Let’s talk about flags. Flags are important and very useful. I guess when it comes to myself, I usually think of flags as markers. You place a flag on a piece of land to mark your territory. You’re at work and a storm of emails come through your inbox. You flag the ones that might be important to revisit later. But as for this post, let’s discuss character flags.

Let’s cap off the past two weeks in sports, it’s been very eventful: Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook got their “bonus night” capped off with a lob of love. My favorite guy in the world, Vivek Ranadive (blog post coming soon) traded away his franchise guy for next to nothing — no offense to Buddy Heild who has a chance to prove us all wrong. Kyrie thinks the earth is flat, with Draymond Green endorsing Kyrie’s opinion (blog post about this also coming soon). Surely we keep all these antics to the media, sports, and fun, and whatever happens will stay in sports media history. Yet, compared to what other athletes have done recently, it doesn’t even warrant a flag in my opinion.

Let’s talk about real flags on athletes. A Day without a Woman is coming up, and as someone who believes in equality across the board, I truly believe that in order for people to truly be equal, large platforms have to take a stance and be extremely vocal. As an NFL fan, I know there are a ton of great athletes that share the same views and values for equality as me, but when one or two (or three or four…) incidents come up in the spotlight and screams to audiences beyond sports, it shines a bad light on the league and the rest of its good athletes and fans.

Let’s start with the first guy with flags. Most recently, Jameis Winston gave a speech at an elementary school. I’d give him the benefit of the doubt, and say he doesn’t have much experience speaking to young children, so he was a little out of his zone. He gave a speech to encourage the kids by saying:

“All my young boys, stand up. The ladies, sit down…But all my boys, stand up. We strong, right? We strong! We strong, right? All my boys, tell me one time: I can do anything I put my mind to. Now, a lot of boys aren’t supposed to be soft-spoken. You know what I’m saying? One day y’all are going to have a very deep voice like this [in deep voice]. One day, you’ll have a very, very deep voice.

“But the ladies, they’re supposed to be silent, polite, gentle. My men, my men [are] supposed to be strong. I want y’all to tell me what the third rule of life is: I can do anything I put my mind to.”

Normally, if any random athlete does this, we will definitely notice it, but we might give the person the benefit of the doubt, because it might be their first time, or whatever. But let’s talk about flags. Jameis Winston has a shit ton of flags. I’m not saying he’s guilty of anything he’s been accused of, but if you keep finding yourself in shit situations, you’re probably not just a victim. He had rape allegations (again, not saying he’s guilty), was liable for stealing crab legs (yes, crab legs) from a supermarket, and now this. We live in a country of second chances and since he has not been convicted of any crimes, he has my benefit of the doubt. But really I would not be surprised if something comes up later where he finds himself in another pile of media vomit. I would seriously suggest being more of an advocate to truly win over the other half of the population. Maybe convince the ladies that they can do anything they put their mind to, and not just for positive press, but because you actually believe it.

The next person I want to talk about with flags, that really truly hits home for me. I thought he was going to be the next dominant defensive superstar in the NFL. In his first 3 seasons, I believe he averaged about a sack a game, which is unheard of. First sports jersey I ever purchased in my life— Aldon Smith. At this point, I don’t even want to consider them flags anymore, I just know that every time he’s in the news, he’s done some shit. Throw a house party, get stabbed by a guest, and caught for illegal firearm modifications? Average Saturday night. Driving white boy wasted and falling asleep on the wheel and smashing into a tree near a school? I was such a huge fan I defended him. Joking about bombs at an airport and getting detained? Fuck it, it’s just a joke, he’s not the brightest guy. Suspension and rehabs had changed him, and he was finally going to reach his potential as an athlete and a nationwide superstar, so I foolishly thought. The front office extended him, he got into another DUI, the Niners released him.

At this point, like the rest of my exhausted fanbase, I was done. I gave up on him. He kept posting on social media for fans to keep believing in him, insisting that he was just a victim with a string of bad luck.

If it smells like shit wherever you walk, maybe it’s time to check your own shoes.

After his release, the Raiders signed him. They’re basically the kid in in college who starts dating the hot girl from high school who was secretly a meth addict. I can change her!! No you can’t. He made the most idiotic posts on periscope of all time while smoking a blunt (they will never know it’s him, not like he put his username as Aldon Smith, genius). This extended his suspension so he basically doesn’t contribute to his team this year. Most recently he finds himself facing a domestic violence investigation.

Again, I’m one to give people the benefit of the doubt, or second chances, yadda yadda. But seriously, what is up with these people who know the consequences of their actions, but keep doing them? This extends way beyond what Jameis Winston. IF found guilty, I don’t think that Aldon Smith should ever play another snap in the NFL ever again.

So I guess this post goes to all the GMs, scouts, and armchair GMs. Athletes represent your organization, beyond the field/court/arena. Know that flags are based on patterns of behavior that carry a lot of weight and if you have a wife, girlfriend, daughter, mother, or sister that you really care about, be proactive and show them that you care.

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