Via Tom Keegan of the Lawrence Journal-World, we get the best detail of Jadeveon Clowney's life yet: He was nicknamed "Doo-Doo" as a child for taking a shit in a swimming pool. It's humanizing, funny, and another reminder that Clowney is not Sidd Finch.
Mythmaking is a habit fans and media have when it comes to great players, and it's been more true for Clowney than anyone else in sports this year, save maybe Yasiel Puig. Clowney's not just a great football player, he's so strong that he can flip a blocking sled, as you can see 23 seconds in!
Did another player help him? Do blocking sleds get flipped fairly commonly, and often get stationed so as to avoid flipping them? DOESN'T MATTER, CLOWNEY SMASH.
Clowney's hit on Vincent Smith in January wasn't just a tremendous hit made possible by a terrible blown assignment; it's the greatest hit in football history, and beyond understanding! He's not just the best player in college football, which was what Mark Richt was trying to say—he's the best football player in the world! And he's a physical specimen who gets the benefit of the doubt on always-kinda-bullshit 40 times (repeatedly!) because ... it's really important to certify that Clowney is The Best Ever, I guess.
Drew Magary wrote one of the smarter things ever written about this urge to be part of history back in 2008 in the context of Tiger Woods winning the U.S. Open on one leg and Barack Obama running America's first successful presidential campaign by a non-white dude, and it remains salient, because the amplification of every voice through social media has only made the fear of missing out stronger and more far-reaching.
It's way less fun to contextualize Jadeveon Clowney as the latest evolution of the freakish defensive end/rush linebacker, a figure that has terrorized offenses from Deacon Jones to Lawrence Taylor to Reggie White to Jevon Kearse to Aldon Smith to Clowney. It's "contrarian," or, worse, "hating" to note that Clowney's inability to beat Florida's Xavier Nixon in a couple of one-on-one situations near the goal line helped give the Gators a win over his South Carolina team, while Georgia's Jarvis Jones—who led college football in sacks last year, not Clowney—abused Nixon on the way to a Georgia win over Florida.
I love Clowney and have since his high school tape, which is absurd.
He looks like every unfair Create-A-Player brought to life and put on a field, bursting past his peers for sacks and touchdown runs. He's more or less done the same as a college player. He's yet to be in a league where the majority of his competition is older, stronger, smarter players, but he's been very impressive to date.
But we don't know how good he's going to be in 2013, much less in the NFL, and too many things—the ever-looming specter of injury, mostly—could happen to derail him, and that would be a damn shame both for the limiting of his potential and the completely asinine "He's not living up to the hype!" narrative that would develop alongside it.
Let Jadeveon Clowney be Jadeveon Clowney, and appreciate him for that, rather than trying to make him what your dreams want him to be. He's good enough to be one of the best ever, at least in theory, and that should deserve the best from us, even if it means digging up stuff like "Doo-Doo" that helps us understand him instead of creating a myth that doesn't exist.
Photo: Dave Martin/Associated Press