Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Curious Case Of Evan Mathis, Or God, I Am So Glad I Was Never Large Enough To Play Football

Damn, Mrs. Mathis
So someone put a microphone in front of Evan Mathis, and the ex-Eagle Pro Bowl guard made the unpardonable sin of speaking his truth about Nero Kelly's reign in Philadelphia.

Mathis, whose choice of team (Denver) and play this season (in all likelihood, middling; the Denver running game or pass protection levels weren't the reason that team has a ring) was good enough to get him the trophy lift that people who stay in Philadelphia never get.

Not surprisingly, he feels that Kelly was unable to manage strong personalities, and ran his squad just to avoid the uppity, rather than, well, people who could play. Mathis also buried the offensive play-calling as too vanilla to stay ahead of the NFL curve. That one's obvious to anyone who watched the games *or* looked at the numbers.

Finally, all of this is likely to replicate itself in San Francisco, given that Nero didn't exactly seem like the learning type during his three years doing the same thing over and over again, and cocky middle-aged white guys who make millions of dollars a year don't generally overwhelm you with their learning ability, flexibility, and willingness to get better from their mistakes.

Now, all of this is mostly besides the point, as well as being spot-on accurate. Mathis was right, Kelly was wrong, and finding anyone who argues otherwise (still) requires a good deal of hunting. Or the ability to look back on their prior bloviations. Kelly had a lot of geishes around town.) But I digress.

Rather, I want to bring this back to Mathis. Here's a guy who won the lottery early in life by growing to 6'-5" and 300+ pounds while still keeping footspeed, then doubled down on the win by staying healthy enough in youth, despite playing, well, football, to get the scholarship ride at Alabama.

He was drafted in the third round in the 2005 draft by Carolina, which means some cash... but not a lot, especially when he washed out after three years there. Cincy and Miami followed, and just when it looked like he was destined to be an NFL vagabond, Andy Reid grabbed him, and 3.5 highly profitable years in Philly as a starter and football nerd loved player ensued. Add in the year in Denver, and he's now eked out a 12-year career in a game where the average lifespan is a third of that.

So when you add up the numbers, he's probably taken home $30 million before taxes, agent and lifestyle dings to his wallet. Even if he's only banked a third of that, he's sitting on more money than anyone you likely know, and assuming his brains aren't too trashed by decades of physical abuse, he's got a good long run ahead of him to do what he pleases.

Plus, he's got the eternal satisfaction of knowing he was right, getting to prove it, and having a wife that's hot enough to cosplay as a wrestling valet when he goes to Halloween parties.

Damn, Mrs. Mathis. Well done.

So here's a guy that we safely state has won at football, right?

Well, maybe... but he's still had to ply his trade in five different cities, and uproot his life on multiple occasions. He still gets to be the target of random character assassinations, and to know that Nero's gotten another gig despite his best efforts to ruin his career for no really good reason.

If he comes back to Philly now that Howie Roseman seems to be doing everything short of signing Vince Young to get the band back together, he'll be trashed by the meatheads in the area for a money grab at whatever level he comes in at, and for being too old the moment that someone who lines up against him wins a play.

Because that's life on the best paid plantation in the world. You may be right, you may be great, and you may be employed for as long as someone can put up with you... but you'll likely pay for the privilege of speaking your truth, and will also be dropped even faster than they drop everyone else, because of that whole truth telling thing.

Short of a dramatic change in our respective fortunes, I'll never be as wealthy as Mathis, or as famous. I'll likely work until old age and beyond, and while I might eventually get past serious stress about making my nut if a paycheck doesn't hit the account every few weeks, I'm not really counting on it. I have daughters, and they have to get through college and weddings, in all likelihood, and cars and the killing zone that is the youth job market. Even if they somehow become self-sufficient at startlingly young ages, and my wife and I remain employed and healthy and lucky, we are not likely to be too much further than where we are now.

And I wouldn't trade my life for Mathis, not for a second, and not just because I love/need to write more than anything, and the idea that my brain might stop working at any time due to my choice of employment is just repugnant on every level.

Rather, it's this.

I'm employed, currently, and have been so in the past, to tell people true things. To learn from these things, then figure out better ways to do these things, because, well, that's the gig.

I don't need to keep my mouth shut and endure untrue things because it would hurt my manager's feelings. I'm not told to go along with poor practices or decisions because my lack of belief is going to make Tinkerbell die, given my lapse of clapping. I've never had to have my job performance torn apart by mouth breathers on talk radio, had my social media feeds cross-examined for signs of subversion, or live with the knowledge that there were literally thousands of quasi-bloodthirsty men who were trying to take my job at pretty much every hour of the day.

And remember, Mathis is one of the guys that's pretty much won this sucker bet.

Hope Rosemen gets him back cheap!

After all, dude's pretty much just a stopgap now.

As are we all...

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