Media should lay off of Nuk

Ben Robinson

Ben Robinson

All About Ben

By Ben Robinson

Last week I was listening to a sports-talk radio show, and the announcer spent a good amount of time complaining about a Clemson player who completed a pro day session for the NFL and after the session did not take time to talk with the media.

The announcer complained about DeAndre Hopkins, nicknamed “Nuk,” who apparently had family members waiting for him outside of the Clemson practice facility, and felt their concerns were more important than the media’s.

Well, good for you, Nuk.

Coming from a Southern family like Nuk’s, I know you don’t keep people waiting for you to take care of personal business.

Some said that that the family waiting for him included his mother and grandmother. If that’s true, you sure don’t keep them waiting. I can just hear my mother saying, “You tell those NFL scouts that your mama is waiting on you, and you’ve got to go.”

Nuk was simply doing what any Southern kid would do — listening to his mother.

And honestly, these occasions in which Nuk can give special attention to his family are limited at this point. Soon, he will be under contract, earning more money in an afternoon than a lot of people make in a year. And when people pay you that kind of money, they expect you to listen to them, not your mama, your daddy or even your grandma.

Right now, Nuk has finished his time at Clemson for now, so he owes the university nothing. He has yet to be signed by a professional team, so he owes them nothing. If he wants to spent as much time as possible with his family, more power to him.

The reason I am so quick to defend him is because Terry Smith, Nuk’s uncle, was very similar to Nuk.

I remember interviewing Terry after his Daniel football team fell just a few points short of winning the state AAA title. He was a well-mannered kid, who spoke very respectfully and kindly after the game.

Like Nuk, Terry went on to Clemson for an impressive career as a wide receiver.

Terry eventually signed with the Atlanta Falcons, serving on their scout team until a spot opened on the roster. Those familiar with Terry knew he was destined for greatness in the NFL.

But it did not happen.

In a domestic incident near Atlanta, Terry had some kind of weapon when police officers arrived. They shot him to end the incident, ending Terry Smith’s life far too soon.

My association with Terry was brief, but I knew the guy who was shot wasn’t the kid who thrilled fans at Daniel High School. I wrote a column about how I knew there was more to him than that. I later had the pleasure of speaking with his father — who had once led Easley to play — unsucceessfully — for the state title in high school football. He agreed that there was more to his son than what happened that night near Atlanta.

So when Nuk signed with Clemson, I pulled for him to be a success. I hoped someday he would enjoy the career that Terry was not able to.

Somehow I knew that on some level, Terry was pulling for Nuk.

So when I heard a radio announcer complaining because Nuke did not give him a chance to interview him, I said to the radio — because I’m an idiot who talks to the radio — “Hold on. There more important things in this kid’s life than talking to the media.”