Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Rashaan Evans Firestorm: Quotables

Have y'all lost your damn minds?

I'm not talking to all Auburn fans—I'm not even talking to most Auburn fans. But too many Auburn fans apparently need to have another talk about fan civility. So here it is: harassing athletes you don't like doesn't make you a better fan. It just makes you an asshole.

The local villain du jour in Auburn, Alabama is not a murderer, not a criminal of any sort, nor a man of deep moral turpitude. No, the target of local scorn is Rashaan Evans, a consensus five-star outside linebackerfrom Auburn High School who chose to go to the best football school in the nation, instead of to the closest. It was a surprise choice, but it was his choice.

For that grave insult, Evans reports that he and his family have been the subject of persistent harassment from some of the townspeople who wanted to see him in navy blue and burnt orange.

* * *

"I understand that people in this state take football very seriously and that's part of what makes it exciting, but when you start trying to hurt other people because of this game, you need to take a step back and think about what's going on. I guess the thing I would ask most of the people writing these hurtful things is how would you feel if this were your child? Why do you feel the need to heap all this negativity onto a young man who is just beginning his life? I think if people asked themselves those questions, they might think twice before writing some of these things they've written. You can do a lot of harm with the words you put out there and I hope people think about that."

Evans said the silver lining of the situation has been the outpouring of support from the Alabama community.

"I'm so glad that where thousands of Auburn fans have thrown my family away and ridiculed and scandalized our name, called us everything but a child of God, thousands of Alabama fans have embraced us and welcomed us to the Capstone," he said. "They have called us and let us know personally that they stand behind Rashaan and his family and awaiting his arrival to the University of Alabama."

* * *

"It's getting worse," Evans said on Monday evening. "Someone actually put out an article about my family's business telling all Auburn fans not to go there. We are going to eventually start losing money. People are telling restaurants in the town not to serve us.

"It's hard for me to go out and chill with my friends like I have always done because people keep coming up to me telling me I made a bad decision. It's grown men. They are asking me why I did this to them. I told them I had to do what is best for me.

"You know I knew this would happen. I knew people would be mad and say stuff. I didn't think it would be like this. It wasn't a complete shock to me, but I guess that's just how fans are.

"It's just crazy right now. What's getting crazy is people are going to the board at my school trying to get me in trouble. They are telling my teachers I am a bad kid and all this stuff. It's just bad right now.”  

* * *

The recruitment of Evans was a hotly contested one up until signing day. Both Auburn and Alabama coaches were in attendance at his grandfather's 80th birthday, and to many, his commitment to the Tide was a coup for coach Nick Saban.

And the process Evans went through is another example of recruiting in 2014. The e-accessibility of recruits makes it incredibly easy to tweet dumb messages to those teenagers deciding on a future school. Add in the hometown angle in the football-crazed south and it's quite ridiculous.

* * *

Taking aim specifically at the Wild West that is Internet message boards as well as social media in an interview with, Alan Evans boiled down the treatment of his son specifically and his family in general to one simple question: “how would you feel if this were your child?” Of course, in a perfect world those responsible for such juvenile behavior toward Evans’ son would be incapable of procreating, but his overall point is understood.

The elder Evans also called it “shocking and hurtful” that some in the community in which he lives would encourage a boycott of his business, an act that threatens to have “a negative impact on our livelihood.”

While understanding “that people in this state take football very seriously and that’s part of what makes it exciting,” the level of backlash against his son’s decision and the viciousness involved has taken the father by surprise.

* * *

Exit question: If the roles had been reversed, would the result have been similar?


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