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A Journey to a Second Chance

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Throughout our entire lives we make mistakes. No person is void of making mistakes and in most scenarios it can be said that mistakes are great learning tools, assuming the person making the mistake uses the experience to grow as a person.

 

In sports we have seen numerous second chances, particularly in the NFL. You don’t have to look far to see one that has taken shape in Philadelphia with quarterback Michael Vick. Vick is a prime example of someone learning from a mistake and using the experience to better themselves as a person. Vick was indicted in 2007 for operating a dog-fighting ring and breeding pitbulls solely for dog fighting. Vick received punishment, did his time and made his way back to the NFL. He currently actively works with charitable organizations that protect animals from abuse.

 

Vick’s journey is proof positive that we are allotted second chances in life and sometimes in our profession. But more often than not it’s those who truly learn from those mistakes that find lasting success.

 

Back in January 2010 reports surfaced involving Florida Gators’ cornerback Wondy Pierre-Louis who was accused of domestic abuse. Pierre-Louis was originally charged with domestic battery and was eventually arrested and held on five felony counts related to domestic abuse. He later was charged with two misdemeanor counts of criminal mischief.

 

(Harrison Diamond, Alligator Staff)

As the processed developed, the supposed victim Starlett Lazenberry would tell the courts; “I do not fear for my life or anything like that. He’s not a danger to anyone. He couldn’t hurt a frog.” She would add that she had attempted to contact the Gainesville Police Department concerning what she said are “inaccuracies” in their police report but said “I’m still waiting on a (return) phone call.” Lazenberry later asked that the charges against Pierre-Louis be dropped.

 

Pierre-Louis’ charges were reduced to damaging a door and cell phone in his then-girlfriend’s (the accuser) apartment. Pierre-Louis pled guilty to both charges and received a sentence of one year of probation from the judge.

 

An unfortunate situation that has contributed to Pierre-Louis’ tough road to land an NFL roster spot. Nonetheless, Pierre-Louis does not look back at the event with anger or contempt, in fact Pierre-Louis demonstrates the type of resolve and peace that is somewhat admirable:

 

It was a situation that happened and things got a little blown out of proportion with me and the other party. We both overreacted, but we learn from it and move on.

Be that as it may, that wasn’t the only hiccup Pierre-Louis had to endure that year. A few months prior to his legal issues Pierre-Louis , who is a native of Haiti, was directly effected by the earthquake that ravaged Haiti.

I kept calling, and nobody was picking up” Pierre-Louis told the Palm Beach Post’s Ben Volin. “I have family in America that I called, and they said they couldn’t get anyone. I was just sitting there trying to call everybody.”

A native of Port-au-Prince which was ground zero for the earthquake, Pierre-Louis endured a terrifying waiting process to find out if his family back home was safe or not. “The house [where I grew up in] collapsed, but everybody made it out, there’s nothing left. I’ve been trying to find out what I can do. I’m going to send money down there.”

The destruction of the earthquakes in Haiti

Eventually Pierre-Louis would learn that his parents, siblings and extended family survived. Unfortunately his 26-year old cousin perished in another building hit by the quake. Pierre-Louis would later state that finding out his family was safe was “Better than winning a national championship.”
Easily the roughest year of his life, Pierre-Louis had persevered and is now trying to find a path to the NFL field. Despite being a solid corner for the Florida Gators and putting on an impressive performance in the 2007 BCS Title Game Pierre-Louis, who was projected to be a 5th round selection in the NFL Draft, went undrafted.
Many would speculate that the legal matter involving Pierre-Louis may have hindered him from getting a spot in the NFL. But while some may find that to be unfortunate and unfair, Pierre-Louis again demonstrates the maturity and peace that a man of strength possesses.
I believe that’s fair, because when something happens to somebody that’s being evaluated, You obviously cant just overlook the situation. But I keep my head up and have a positive mind and take everything as it come day by day.
It was a situation that was blown out of proportion. All the charges was dropped. I put that behind me and I’m ready to move forward with my football Career.
And Pierre-Louis certainly has been working at doing so. He has been training almost every single day and even tried out for the Baltimore Ravens and the New York Giants with hopes of landing a roster spot.
I have been approached by a couple UFL, CFL and AFL team during this process. And I’m very open minded when it come to football because of my passion for the game. At the end of the day I will go with the best opportunity that’s being presented.
I been back home in Naples training at Velocity Sport with Derek Touchette. The same trainer that trained guys like Hakeem Nicks with the Giants, Phil Taylor with the Cleveland Browns  and Braylon Edwards with the San Francisco 49ers. I have been training hard. I feel like I’m in my the best shape I’ve ever been in.
Sometimes it’s easy for us to see a news headline and immediately pass judgement, we are almost bred to be reactionary at an immediate-pace. But in some cases, this one in particular, it’s important to see the whole story. Pierre-Louis deserves a second chance and a clean slate as he works towards a career in the NFL. It is clear the man is not void of the talent necessary of being productive at the NFL level (Check his scouting report here).
I also believe that Pierre-Louis, despite the opinions of his legal matter, has shown the resiliency and character that demonstrates strong will. The type of will that should help shine some sunlight through any dark cloud that some teams may see as hanging over the former Florida Gator. The same will that locker room leaders have coursing through their veins. The type of resolve and maturity that should be taken into account during any evaluation process.
Regardless of how anyone views his past, I for one would be proud to have a player with that makeup donning my team’s jersey. As I stated, we all make mistakes. But it’s those who learn from and grow from those mistakes that should be clearly separated from those who do not.
As Pierre-Louis embarks on his journey to an NFL roster Wondy Pierre-Louis would like every potential team to know one thing:
I like to let all the teams know, I played at a big time program in a big time conference. I’m a tall athletic corner. I’m hungry. I’m ready to show everyone in the NFL what I’m capable of.
Maybe that will lead Pierre-Louis to Denver where he can reunite with former teammate Tim Tebow:
I believe Tebow is an amazing football player with a lot of heart that really cares about his team. I can’t wait to watch him play next year. But I’m more looking to play against him (laughs)

(courtesy of tampabay.com)

A competitive fire that still burns deep despite his trials and tribulations. I would also venture to say Pierre-Louis is an example of a man who has overcome, conquered and bettered himself both on and off the field.
With this being NFL Draft season all of us watching the process will discuss 40 times, vertical jumps and bench presses. But sometimes it’s the intangibles and the things that cannot be measured by a stop watch or weight bench that prove to be more valuable than the things that are.
We are a society that embraces a good story, a underdog and a happy ending. Wondy Pierre-Louis may very well give us our next great sports story.
Catch my radio interview with Wondy Pierre-Louis right here
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Anthony DiMoro is the creator of Sports Rants and the CEO of Elite Rank Media and DiMoro Enterprises LLC. He is a former Contributor for Forbes and the Huffington Post where he covered sports, social media, and SEO. Anthony hosts the Anthony DiMoro Show podcast, and formerly hosted the 'Forbes SportsMoney Podcast'.

NEWS

NFLPA Partners with Twitch and Epic Games for Twitch Rivals Streamer Bowl Series

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twitch rivals streamer bowl

Twitch, Epic Games, and the NFL Player’s Association (NFLPA) have teamed up for a the Twitch Rivals Streamer Bowl, which is a three-part series with both NFL players and twitch streamers who are paired with one another in Fortnite competitions for charity, according to the Esports Observer.

The series will take place live from Miami, Florida during Super Bowl LIV week, and will see streamers draft a partner from a pool of NFL players, and once they all have partners, the will play a Fortnite duos tournament for $500K of charity prize pool money.

Additionally, all active NFL players are to be invited to participate in the NFLPA Open, where players can play Fortnite for a chance to be named the “Best Fortnite Player in the League.”

When the NFLPA Open wraps up on January 15th, four participants will be selected to participate in the Twitch Rivals Streamer Bowl.

It’s another partnership in a growing relationship between Twitch and the NFL, which has brought Thursday Night Football to the platform. Additionally, Twitch was announced as the official streaming partner for the Raiders upon their move to Las Vegas in 2020.

Streaming has elevated to astronomical heights in the past year alone, in popularity and financially. Some of the best twitch streamers can make some serious money by becoming a popular streamer, but Twitch is not alone. Mixer has poached a number of high profile streamers from Twitch and positioned them as the best Mixer streamers on the platform, bringing a boost in visibility and popularity as well.

Streaming has also boosted awareness for esports teams as well, and have given gamers a source of entertainment that is directly in their wheelhouse. Streaming has also gone beyond just gaming, as it has introduced a platform for ASMR and cosplay as well as live sports and entertainment.

 

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NEWS

Steelers’ Juju Smith-Schuster Received $100K to Watch NFL on Twitch

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Juju Smith-Schuster

Pittsburgh Steelers’ wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster is no stranger to twitch streams and being one of the best twitch channels from professional athletes on the platform, and he spends a big part of his free time playing video games, but he is also raking in some serious coin for being active on Amazon’s platform.

According to CBS Sports’ Chris Bengel, Smith-Schuster appeared on popular streamer THump’s channel during the Week 14 matchup between the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys, playing Fortnite, and admitted that he had received $100,000 for participating in the Thursday Night Football stream.

“I did a stream yesterday, with TimTheTatMan, or like two days ago, we watched the Cowboys game and I got paid $100K for that,” Smith-Schuster said.

“Oh, I don’t know if you’re supposed to say that but it’s all good, it’s all good,” THump said.

Smith-Schuster has missed the past 3 games as he has been dealing with a knee injury, and it will be interesting to see if any punishment and/or penalties will come down on him due to receiving money from Twitch.

 

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New York Jets

Jets’ Le’Veon Bell Discusses Bowling Trip Distraction

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Le'Veon Bell

New York Jets’ running back Le’Veon Bell has been under heavy criticism for going bowling on Saturday night despite having the flu, which caused him to miss Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins because he was too sick.

The bowling trip has been a topic of discussion, and Jets’ head coach Adam Gase said that the incident was a bad optic for Bell and the organization.

For his part, Bell has no regrets, joking that he bowled a career-high 251 “coming off the flu.”

“I don’t feel bad about what I did,” Bell said, according to ESPN’s Rich Cimini. “I didn’t break any rules. I wasn’t a distraction until now.”

But Bell didn’t just discuss the bowling trip, he also aired out his frustrations with the Jets offense, saying that he feels underutilized and saying this wasn’t the first time he had voiced his feelings on the offense. Bell was then asked if he felt he had been given the opportunity to thrive.

“Honestly, no. I think that’s just being in a new system, with new guys up front, a new coaching staff. I’m with a new organization. Everything kind of takes time. I understand that. That’s why I’ve always been patient.

“But to be honest with you, no. I feel like when I do, I’ll be back to what people are used to seeing.”

“I don’t like to keep harping on the same thing,” Bell said. “I said what I said. We had the conversation. That was that. I’m not about to have the same conversations over and over. We both understand each other. As time goes on, things will get better.”

Bell and Gase discussed the incident, with Gase opting not to punish Bell for bowling.

“They weren’t sure about my energy and hydration, so they held me out of the game,” Bell said. “But they advised me to get out of the house and move a little bit. I had a lot of family and friends there because they were expecting me to play. Everybody was at my house, just kind of looking at me. I felt better, I felt a lot better, so we went out bowling and had fun.”

Bell may be one-and-done with the Jets after signing a four-year, $52.5 million contract in March to join the team in free agency.

 

 

 

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