The Su’a Cravens news was a real kick to the nuts to Redskins fans this weekend. On the one hand, I have absolutely zero problem with a young man, just 22, deciding that this body-demolishing blood sport we love so much, just isn’t worth the millions. God bless, go in peace. But at the same time, I am piecing together some troubling maturity issues that are not unique to Cravens, but rather a sign of the times.
And forgive me if this sounds a little like “Old Man Yells: These Damn Kids Today!” because it really isn’t. I’m more sad for Cravens. He seems to be a millennial prototype of a digital world that is stunting growth and personal responsibility. Cravens was granted a highly unusual, non-injury-related, “Left Team/Exempt List” status when he abruptly went into Bruce Allen’s office and tried to “retire” on Sunday. That gives him a solid 4 weeks to “sort some things out” as it was described by sources.
Okay, I’m fine so far.
But then what’s the next thing I see? Cravens on Snapchat, talking about how he doesn’t feel he needs to “explain himself” and that he just wants to do “what makes him happy.” To me, this is the modern curse of the millennial: in constant need of attention, and completely unaware of the concept of accountability to others. Said Cravens: “You can hate me, you can love me, but there will be no grey area or in-between. I don’t prefer it any other way.”
That’s what social media does: it makes you OBSESS about what people THINK about YOU. I know this. I feel it all the time while using stupid-ass Twitter. It’s evil. I hate it. I wish my job didn’t keep score via social media the way it now does. I’d leave in a second. It’s fundamentally UN-healthy to be buffeted by the highs and lows of the opinions of some Chewbaca avatar named “Chewdog99” with 37 followers.
At the very least, Cravens should have told the Redskins BEFORE cutdown day, not after. Furthermore, not everything in life, makes us “happy.” As Al Swearengen once famously said: “That’s what life is, one vile fucking task after another.” Cravens has(d) a promising career ahead of him. He was switched to safety this season (a move he requested), and despite one concussion last year, a knee injury, and a biceps injury, it’s not like he had been carted off the field in an immobilizer. There’s a little bit of hey “let’s just gut it out” that goes into playing this sport.
Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic caught an amazing exchange between Cravens and the Skins LB alpha-dog Will Compton this summer in training camp. In light of what we know now, it’s rather ominous.
Some are also reporting that he has been “homesick” for his family in Southern California, adding to his 2nd year angst with the team. Okay, fine. Maybe he’s a quiet homebody, I think. But wait… no.. not exactly. Here’s the same Su’a Cravens bitching about a local car dealership on Twitter, over a vehicle dispute. And it was a team sponsor! Again, not even a social misdemeanor, but it reveals a certain immaturity. Didn’t he first think: “Hey, maybe I should talk to the team’s PR director about this… first?” At his 2nd round salary, he could buy a full price BMW from any dealer in town, and be treated like royalty I would assume.
I went to school in Santa Barbara, and oh boy did I get homesick bad around the holidays. But it never made me want to drop out of school. I still enjoyed it too much, had things I wanted to accomplish, and in the end it made going home even sweeter. I guess I just have a hard time with hearing “homesick” from athletes these days, when we have service members sitting in a donkey infested stone-age dustbowl dodging RPG’s for 2, 3 years at a time.
But I’m not mad and will never be mad at this young man no matter what he chooses. This sport, is surely not for everybody. He owes nobody anything. Not even an explanation. (Well, he might owe the Redskins some signing bonus money, but that’s for the accountants if and when the time comes). But for a guy who has been given 4 precious weeks of a newborn NFL season to “figure things out” I know one goddamn place that is NOT going to help. At all.
And that’s social media. And yet, that’s the only world millennials seem to live in now. It’s a damn shame.