My “Together We Make Football Essay”

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With 29 minutes left before last night’s deadline, I finished and submitted my essay for Together We Make Football. Feel free to share and comment on it. It is also found in the TWMF website.

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When you see someone with autism, I bet you may see that person as a shy, geeky savant who is more into the sciences and mathematics than hanging out. You probably wouldn’t think twice about seeing the aspie as an avid football fan.

I’m autistic, shy, and nerdy alright…and I’m geeked about American football! It’s the only sport that I follow all year long and watch games. I tweet and post Facebook statuses on about football all the time. I watch many NFL documentaries, such as A Football Life and Super Bowl highlights, repeatedly without tiring myself out. I write about football, take pictures during football games, and play pick-up games. The game is my wife that never lets me down.

I’ve been a football fan all my life, and I thank my godbrother, uncle, and father for introducing me to football. My father always talked football around me. Though I didn’t get to see him as much during my childhood, football bridged the gap between us. My uncle showed me moves to shed blockers and get to the quarterback; he also took me to some of my junior varsity games. My godbrother is an avid fan of football. I used to come over his family’s house to watch Bears and Super Bowl games. We love to debate NFL topics like the greatest running back of all time, which is Walter Jerry “Sweetness” Payton (sorry Barry Sanders fans). In addition, I recalled pretending to be Neal Anderson when I was around five or six, carrying the football and wearing a miniature version of his uniform. And though I didn’t know how they really work until high school, I would emulate formations I saw from the Game Boy game, NFL Football, by putting small toy figures in their places on the floor.

Football is the best sport for me to play, watch, and get involved in. For starters, it’s an exciting game of explosive offenses, innovative strategies, hard hitting, and surprise endings. But that’s not the only reason why I like the game. It have taught me many life lessons, such as teamwork and rising up from adversity. It kept me fit for most of my teenage years; it opened doors for me in writing and event photography. I’ve wrote several feature stories on the Atlanta Falcons during the 2013 season. As a freelance photographer and fan photographer for FanPhotos, I followed the miraculous championship run that Auburn University had that year.

More importantly, football is my favorite sport because it helped me interact with peers and family members and it molded me from a shy kid into respectable man. As mentioned earlier, I have high-functioning autism. I excelled academically throughout my schooling and I lived independently for most of my adult life. In fact, I have just received my MFA from SCAD-Atlanta in this March, and I recently turned 27 in October. However, I have difficulties interacting with people. For instance, I struggle with maintaining friendships or making friends because of my narrow interests and inability to read complex emotions. I’m also sensitive to bright lights and popping noises.

I was a quiet, aloof kid at first. It didn’t stop me from participating in social activities or doing the things I wanted to do as a child. Though I’ve been a sports nut since childhood, starting with basketball, it was football that gave me the most joy. I played kill-the-man on school grounds during recess and impromptu games of football in the backyard after school. I also enjoyed games of flag football and knee football while attending an after-school program at Foster Park. Sports, especially football, were the first activities where I felt like I was just one of the guys instead of an oddball. I can just run around, catch, throw, hit, and be myself on the field. Peers didn’t seem to mind picking me to be on the team. And even when I was just watching or talking about football, I wasn’t greeted with strange looks. I was always welcomed to join in on football conversations, whether it was with my peers or coach Ron Crenshaw, one of my first coaches.
The game of football had the most impact on my life during my high school years. I tried out for the freshman football team when I first entered Hyde Park Academy in summer 2002. I was picked on a lot by the varsity squad, because of my squeaky voice, my tendency to stay to myself, and my inexperience in playing organized ball. But I eventually gained respect of my teammates once I developed a knack for blowing past offensive lines and going after quarterbacks. I played two years with the JV team, as a defense end. By the time I was promoted to varsity, I’ve already made some good friends on the team and gained the respect of coaches. I played in significant amount of games during my junior year. When I was a senior, I was given more responsibilities. By the end of the 2005 season, I started most of the games as a defensive tackle and played on special teams as well. I was also becoming a fan favorite and one of the most academically sound players on the team. Overall, football transformed me into a more confident person who can be depended on, and thanks to the sport, I have learned how to interact with more people.

I don’t know what my love of football would take me next. It may open doors to inspire autistic athletes to try their hands in college and professional football. Alternatively, that passion may lead to me debating football on “First Take” or “Numbers Never Lie“.

Nevertheless, I’m glad to have football as my buffer to the social world.

Hidden Layers to Bullygate: Mental Health in the NFL

Folks, Bullygate is worst than I expected. It’s not about bullying, being black, and the hazing culture anymore. The alarming issue that I took away is the teams’ and the league’s ability to handle mental health maladies among players.

Feel free to read the full Wells report and make your own judgments afterwards. From what I read, however, I don’t think teammates were prepared to handle Jonathan Martin’s mental health issues, especially since some of the players constantly taunt J-Mart. The front office and coaching staff seemed to turn the other way as well. Even an assistant coach joined in on taunting the assistant trainer, and who knows, he might have picked on J-Mart behind his back too.

Today, when we have have issues, we are recommended to go seek professional help. We talk to somebody about our problems. We do yoga or exercises or meditation sessions to clear our minds. We pray to high powers.

At least that’s what the workplace is teaching us to do for the most part. We may live in the 21st century, but the way NFL players deal with mental health issues is as archaic as how we used to travel 150 years ago. I never played a down in the NFL and college, but I played organized sports before. In some locker rooms, crying to people about your problems is a “bitch ass move.” It’s socially unacceptable to break down and cry. Either you toughen up and keep your problems to yourself or quit. To the Miami Dolphins, Martin is a punk because he chose to leave instead of confronting the situation head-on. Also, if you’re picked on, the unwritten locker room rule is: defend yourself, or else, quit.

I don’t know if that’s an healthy environment for players who prefer seeking help and alternative means of handling mental issues. No wonder why some players are beginning to dislike the NFL. You can feel alone, even in a team setting, if you’re different from the “typical, social” player and don’t respond as well to certain situations as other players.

I would love to dig in the matter further, because it’s intertwined with other societal topics, such as racism and classism. But even as write this brief blog, I think the report itself convinced me to speak out.

And this have even more scary possibilities. If NFL teams are inadequate in dealing with mental health issues, then how they will handle players with developmental disabilities, such as autism and Down’s Syndrome? I would like like to write about Bullygate’s potential impact on autistic people seeking to play college or professional sports.

Let’s hope the Wells report will open professional sports teams’ eyes to mental health topics more seriously.

Green Dreads

It’s been more than the week since the historic butt-kicking that the Seahawks gave to the Broncos. They just came in and ran roughshod over the poor Denver squad.

As a result, I lost a bet against the friend that I made a month ago during the NFC Championship Game. Since the Seahawks won both the NFC Championship and Super Bowl, I must dye my hair green.

I’m a man of my word, even if I hate losing. So there:

As much I disliked the bet initially, I turned out to be an inspirational moment. Why? Because I finally have ideas for cosplaying at either MomoCon or Anime Weekend Atlanta. With the temporary hair color spray, I can dye my hair to the color I want and rinse it out a day later.  I can finally either cosplay as corporate Trunks or human form of Knuckles.

For more adventures of the green hair, check out my random video:

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Welcoming our 2013 #AuburnTigers #Football Team home (1-7-2014)




Via Flickr:
Proud Auburn fans, despite the freezing temperatures, thanking the team for a remarkable seasons. The sky is the limit next year! #WDE

Photos can also be found on Timotheus “Pharaoh” Gordon FB like page: www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.588682301187177.1073741…

Why the Bears Should Draft Te’o (by Timotheus Gordon; 4/5/2013)

English: Photo of Notre Dame linebacker Manti ...

English: Photo of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o taken in 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chicago Bears fans, let the Manti Te’o watch begin!

According to CBSSports.com, the former Heisman candidate from Notre Dame is the second best inside linebacker prospect in this year’s NFL draft. Since the first round will be all about linemen, we may see him get drafted as high as 19th overall. The Giants might try to draft an offensive lineman first to improve their run blocking, which gives the Bears (with the 20th overall pick) a better shot at drafting Te’o. LSU inside linebacker Kevin Minter may be the most explosive and athletic ILB in this year’s draft, but Te’o is the best fit for the Bears’ defensive scheme.

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