With the start of the NFL season, we, as fans, have dug our team apparel out of storage and are rocking those team colors wherever we go.
Around Del Rio, those colors vary as much as the colors of the grass on our lawns (can we have a little rain? Please?). There are tons of different fans - Pittsburgh Steelers fans, Seattle Seahawks fans, New England Patriots fans, Houston Texans fans, the occasional Minnesota Vikings fans (we are few, but easy to find in our purple and gold) and, of course, there are Dallas Cowboys fans.
One of the Cowboys’ fans favorite people this year is defensive star Demarcus Lawrence. Lawrence is a two-time Pro Bowler who just signed a contract worth $105 million as he has slowly made a name for himself as a premier defender.
His career with the Cowboys hasn’t always been great, though. He missed eight games as a rookie due to a broken foot.
He was suspended four games in 2016 after testing positive for the use of amphetamines. But he’s been on the right track ever since, and in Dallas’ win over the New York Giants on Sunday he recorded two tackles, a half sack and forced and recovered a fumble.
However, what happened after the game is what has people talking about Lawrence.
According to a now-viral video, Lawrence was approached by a young football fan in a New York Giants’ Saquon Barkley jersey and was asked for an autograph. Lawrence denied the request, adding insult to injury by saying, “Get the right jersey, son.”
I can already hear Cowboys fans defending Lawrence’s behavior by saying, “The kid was wearing a Giants jersey! What did he expect?!,” or “The kid was probably forced by his dad to get the autograph!” but the reality is this was a kid, star struck as he was, asking for an autograph from a real life NFL player. That chance doesn’t come along very often no matter who you are, and Lawrence took it upon himself to not only deny the fan, which was Lawrence’s choice, but then to insult the young man’s fashion choice.
Look, being a role model isn’t easy, but when you’re part of the public eye, and $105 million means you’re a really big part of that eye, it pays to try and be a decent person especially when you’ve done dumb things in your past. I’ve spoken to Del Rio Rams football players who said they like talking to younger kids and hearing how those little ones hope to be Rams when they grow up. They’ve even signed autographs that couldn’t buy you a stick of gum but meant the world to that person who asked for it.
All Lawrence had to do was tell the kid, “Not right now,” and no one would have batted an eye. Instead, he acted like a macho fool for no greater reason than to hold up some kind of bravado for a team he may not even end his career with.
If you’re a public figure, remember where you are and who you are.
If you have the chance to brighten someone’s day, do it. You never know what kind of impact you’ll have.
Brian Argabright is the sports editor at the Del Rio News-Herald, where he has worked for the last 22 years.