Tired of pompous Authentic Pernell McPhee Jersey , entitled athletes who don't seem to realize how good they have it?
Fed up with all the scandals and cheats and scoundrels mucking things up for the rest of us?
Meet Ricardo Allen.
He'll give you a reason to cheer.
Allen plays for the Atlanta Falcons, a 26-year-old free safety who will readily admit he's not the fastest, not the strongest, not the biggest guy in the room.
"I won't be anybody's first pick," said Allen, who at 5-foot-9 comes up 3 inches shy of this aging sports scribe.
He's so much more than that.
This is a guy who hasn't forgotten what it's like to be told you're not good enough 鈥?on HBO's "Hard Knocks" no less, for the whole world to see.
This is a guy who remembers what it's like to spend a year on the practice squad, putting in as much work as the next guy but knowing he won't get a chance to shine on Sundays.
So, when word came that Allen had agreed to a contract extension with the Falcons, one that should set him up nicely for the rest of his life if he manages his money right, he didn't exactly celebrate.
That's not his style.
Instead, he watched that "Hard Knocks" episode all over again, the one where then-Atlanta coach Mike Smith doles out the pink slip .
"You can kind of see I smiled a little bit," Allen recalled. "I knew that wasn't going to be my last straw. I've been turned down plenty of times in life, man. That wasn't the first time I've been told I wasn't good enough."
Allen's new contract 鈥?$19.5 million for three more seasons 鈥?pales in comparison to, say, teammate Matt Ryan, who agreed to a massive deal that averages $30 million a year and guarantees the star quarterback at least $100 million.
But Allen is grateful for his $5.5 million signing bonus. He knows that's a massive amount of money to just about anyone else. He hopes it sends just the right message to anyone scuffling on the fringes of a roster.
"This wasn't just a deal for myself," Allen said. "This was a deal for everybody who has to struggle, who has to fight from the bottom. It's possible to make it to the top."
Even now Youth Washington Redskins Jerseys , he has a soft spot for all those guys going through the same struggles.
"When I was in college, I used to work out with the walk-ons," Allen said. "I was always attracted to hard workers. I was always attracted to the bottom feeders."
After Dan Quinn took over as Atlanta's coach in 2015, he was impressed by Allen's tackling skills but felt he was out of place at cornerback, his position at Purdue and what he started out playing with the Falcons.
Allen was moved to safety. Suddenly, he blossomed. One training camp after being waived, he surged to the top row of the depth chart, going on start 14 games as a de facto rookie in 2015.
But he never got comfortable.
Not even now, when he's so clearly a part of Atlanta's long-term plans.
"That ain't in my blood," Allen said, chuckling at the mere suggestion.
Zealously guarding against those thoughts ever creeping into his head, Allen is always looking for ways to make things harder on himself.
Right down to the smallest details.
If his eggs are too runny, he's not sending them back. If it gets cold in his room, he'll turn down the thermostat even more.
"This world is so used to being comfortable all the time," Allen said. "It's weird, man, I know. But it's just something I do so I don't get complacent, so I never feel like what I've done is enough."
Allen has always worn his emotions on his sleeve, which was never more evident that when I talked with him less than an hour after the Falcons squandered a 25-point lead in the Super Bowl.
While most everyone else did their best to cover up the overwhelming pain, Allen made it clear exactly how he was feeling.
"I'm broken inside http://www.coltsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-kemoko-turay-jersey ," he said that night in the bowels of Houston's NRG Stadium . "I'm not a guy that forgets very easy. I'll probably never forget this. It will always be haunting."
But, like every setback in Allen's life, pain served a purpose.
He put together another strong season in 2017, though the Falcons were knocked out of the playoffs in the divisional round. He's one of the leaders on a young, speedy defense, doling out and advice and mentoring anyone who wants to know how to do things the right way.
When the Falcons announced Allen's new contract, there wasn't a hint of jealousy from his teammates.
Quite the opposite.
That day, during a meeting with the entire team, Quinn asked, "If you've ever been supported or encouraged by Ricardo Allen, please stand up."
Everyone rose from their seats, from the biggest stars on the team to those who will likely be cut in a week or two.
"You see the impact that a guy like him has on a team," Quinn marveled.
It doesn't matter if you're a Falcons fan.
No. 37 is a guy we can all root for.
Paul Newberry is a sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at email@example.com or at pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at s://apnews/search/paul%20newberry
Terrell Owens should have had a better excuse for blowing off his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
You know, like maybe he was going bowling.
That, at least, might have been understood in the tiny universe of T.O., the one the former wide receiver lives in and no one else seems to penetrate. Owens was so into bowling after his football career was over that he tried to go pro, only to be undone by slippery lane conditions.
Owens was a lot more successful in football, where his numbers were so good he arguably 鈥?and Owens argues this most 鈥?should have been inducted in Canton in his first year of eligibility. It wasn't until his third year that Owens was voted in, part of a class that includes Jonathan Allen Color Rush Jersey , among others, Jerry Kramer, Ray Lewis and fellow wide receiver Randy Moss.
They'll all be there, slipping on the gold jackets for the first time that signify they're the best of the best.
Owens probably will get his in the mail.
That's entirely on T.O., and it's not entirely surprising. His great numbers always came with great problems, and he's never been one to forget a slight, perceived or otherwise.
That's why he's still engaged in a mostly one-way feud with Donovan McNabb, 13 years after the Philadelphia Eagles lost the 2005 Super Bowl to New England and Owens famously said he "wasn't the guy who got tired" in the game.
It's also why he's spending the day he should be getting his gold jacket at a ceremony of his own at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he went to college.
Hard to say exactly, but it seems T.O. is not happy with the way the media covered him over his 15-year career. He believes he got a bad rap as a bad teammate, and didn't get the credit for the things he did on the field for his teams.
And he's really not happy with being skipped over two years before finally being voted into the hall.
Just T.O. being T.O., a familiar scene to anyone who followed his career. Now Owens can claim a first that may hold a long time 鈥?the only living player of the 318 elected to the Hall of Fame who refused to attend his own induction.
"It wasn't like he had to wait that long," said Paul Domowitch of the Philadelphia Daily News, who championed Owens cause to his 47 fellow Hall of Fame voters. "A lot of people have waited a lot longer than three years."
Owens may not be there to get his jacket, but he'll still be a Hall of Famer. There will be a T.O. bust, and provisions have been made to send him a jacket.
But he won't be inducted individually like the others in his class in what should be one of the greatest moments of his life.
His call, yes. But if Owens is trying to make a point, it's likely to get lost in the fuss being made over those actually in Canton for their inductions.
Then again, this is a player who held a bizarre press conference while working out in his driveway after being suspended for arguing with Eagles coach Andy Reid prior to the 2005 season. Shirtless and doing sit-ups, Owens mostly answered "no comment" before exasperated writers asked him if he was trying to set a record for offering no comment.
"No comment Saints Rick Leonard Jersey ," he said.
Wide receivers tend to be a strange breed, even if Owens took it to a new level. Moss, after all, once famously walked off the field with 2 seconds left in a game and his Minnesota Vikings lined up for an onside kick attempt.
Moss will be in Canton on Saturday for his induction, and maybe Owens didn't want to share the stage with him. Unlike Owens, Moss got in in his first year of eligibility.
A look at the numbers makes the case for Owens, who had a great career playing in San Francisco, Philadelphia, Dallas, Buffalo and Cincinnati. Moss is second only to Jerry Rice in receiving yards, and third in touchdown catches behind Rice and Moss. He was a six-time Pro Bowl pick, and his touchdown celebrations live on in NFL lore.
Yes, he once questioned the sexuality of one of his quarterbacks. Yes, he threw quarterbacks and coaches under the bus whenever it suited his fancy.
But he deserves to be in Canton. He should be in Canton.
"I don't understand what he's trying to accomplish here, but he's a tough guy to understand," Domowitch said. I think he's going to regret it later on because a lot of the Hall of Famers are going to hold it against him. Part of the joy of being one of those guys is not just getting inducted but all the things you go to together in the future. When the other Hall of Famers get together, he won't really be welcomed."
No he won't, though to Owens it doesn't seem to matter.
It's just T.O. being T.O.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or ://timdahlberg