Tag Archives: Ben Bolton

When something you love is taken away from you

By Ben Bolton

Athens, Ga.— Lauren Mayo grew up in Chicago watching, playing, and loving sports. But in the span of two weeks, she lost her ability to play.

Mayo grew up in a sports-oriented household. Her dad played basketball and football in high school. Her mom played soccer. Her brother and sister both play basketball. In fact, her cousin, Solomon Hill plays for the Indiana Pacers.

“I felt like everyone should play a sport,” Mayo said. “Because everyone in my house played a sport.”

However, she wasn’t very good at basketball. Her family used to joke with her saying she had two left feet.

“I wanted to do something, and I wasn’t good at basketball. So, let me find something I am good at, and I was really good at track.”

Mayo began running track in 5th grade. She dreamed of a track career in college, becoming fond of the LSU track and field team. But during her sophomore year of high school, everything changed.

Mayo and her family moved from Illinois to Marietta, Georgia. She continued running track for Marietta High School. Then during one practice in March, it became difficult to breathe.

“I was having trouble breathing, and I thought it was because of my asthma.”

Mayo was diagnosed with asthma as a child. But Mayo and her mother felt this problem was different. Then, Lauren passed out.

Her mom took her to the doctor. After several test, they sent her to Emory Hospital in Atlanta for further examination. The diagnosis showed it wasn’t her asthma.

“I found out I had a heart murmur, plus asthma. Running is not a good combination, so I couldn’t really run anymore.”

Mayo’s connection to playing sports was gone. Her body just wouldn’t let her do it anymore. She even tried to run despite her doctor’s orders, but she couldn’t pass a physical examination test.

“I felt limited, that I really didn’t know what to do. I felt lost. It was depressing. It was like ‘What do I do now?’”

Mayo could no longer run. But one day in her literature class in high school, she became interested in a different area of sports.

“I remember the next year when I couldn’t run. I was in my literature class. We had to argue whether athletes were overpaid or not. Everybody, of course, said yes. Then, there were three people on my side who said no.”

She had to make the argument for paying players millions of dollars in her writing and through debate. The exercise continued throughout the class, and Mayo realized that she may want to become a sports agent or writer.

“It was a way for me to still enjoy sports. I guess if you can’t play sports, you can write about them.”

She took that passion into college. She is now a junior at the University of Georgia studying public relations, consumer economics, and sports journalism.

She plans to go into either sports marketing or to law school to become a sports agent. Mayo may not be able to run track anyone, but she still wants sports to be a part of her life.

“For me, it was the basis of my family structure,” Mayo said. “Everything we did surrounded sports. I feel like it’s embedded in me.”

A New Era

It was not overlooked. The fact that the man asked to replace a legend had begun his way to doing so.

The Denver Broncos took on the Indianapolis Colts this past Sunday. It was a contest hyped up by every major sports news outlet. Peyton Manning was going to return to Indianapolis, the city where he played professional football for 14 seasons. Colt’s fans loved Manning. He was their first ballot Hall-of-Fame player, the charismatic guy with the funny commercials, the guarantee that every game was worth going to. And then, he was gone.

A sequence of circumstances, including a major neck injury, led to the Colts moving on. The left “The Franchise” behind. Then, Andrew Luck entered the picture. The Stanford quarterback was seen as one of the best prospects since, well, Peyton Manning. The Colts could not resist ten to fifteen years of winning compared to the two to three left with Manning. In a move allegedly endorsed by Manning, the Colts drafted Luck and released the four-time MVP.

Manning found a home in Denver. Luck began his journey in Indianapolis. They both won a lot of games and made the playoffs in 2012. But last weekend, they finally met in the house that Manning built. The match up did not disappoint.

Manning ended up with 386 yards, three touchdown passes, and a costly interception. Luck had 228 yards and three touchdowns. The Colts had a lead most of the game, but Manning brought the Broncos back. And just when you thought he was going to pull it out one last time in Lucas Oil Stadium, Manning’s running back fumbled the ball away at the goal line. It ended the comeback. Luck could finally close the “Book of Manning” and start his own story.

Luck and his teammates brushed off the significance of the victory. It was just another win. Well, that is what they told reporters.

It is hard to believe that the moment was lost on Luck or Manning. Things had changed in Indianapolis. Football is a game players have a tough time giving up. Manning has alluded to the end of his career. If this is the last time he plays in Indianapolis, the loss really will become meaningless. If that was it, then THIS is what will have really mattered.

Belichick Shows Emotion: Second Day Story

The story actually has to do with the controversial call at the end of the Patriots and Jets game. It caused a reaction from Bill Belichick that doesn’t happen all that often. In addition, he actually talked about it after the game. That is why it is a good second day story. It isn’t long or an in-depth article. But, it describes the play very well, and gives the reaction from a coach who normally doesn’t react. In a weekend full of controversial penalties, it just seemed fitting to pick this as a good second day story.

A New Breed of Quarterback

The AFC presents an interesting contrast in quarterbacks. There are the veterans. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are the stoic pocket passers, both winners, and both still putting up big numbers. Then, you have the new wave. Geno Smith, Andrew Luck, E.J. Manuel, and Terrelle Pryor all have remarkable athleticism that allow them to make plays with their feet. It is a recent trend in what many consider the most important position in sports, and it is changing the game.

Week five of the 2013 NFL season was pretty much a preview of what the future of the league will look like. Pryor is coming off an impressive win against the San Diego Chargers where he spent most of the time extending plays with his legs to give receivers more time to get open. Luck knocked off an undefeated Seattle Seahawks team mostly on the run. Manuel, before he got hurt, did much of the same. Smith beat the Falcons by extending plays as well.

It doesn’t always show up in the box score either. With the immense value of a good quarterback, coaches don’t want to see an arm wasted because a passer’s knee gets taken out on a run. It’s about missing tackles, running sideways, and occasionally picking up an important first down when the defensive secondary is playing back. Where it has been showing up is in the NFL Draft Combine, and it is starting to show in the win column.

The 40 yard dash times are impressive. Manuel ran a 4.59. Luck ran a 4.67. Pryor ran a 4.38. Smith ran a 4.56. To put it in perspective, out of the 33 running backs that ran the 40 yard dash in last year’s combine, only four of them ran faster than a 4.50.  These are just some of the NFL’s quarterbacks. It gets even more impressive when you add guys like Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson in the NFC.

This type of mobility isn’t going away either. The trend will continue. If you take a look at CBS’s current projections for the 2014 NFL Draft, the mobility of the upcoming quarterbacks just gets better. Teddy Bridgewater, Marcus Mariota, Brett Hundley, Tajh Boyd, and Johnny Manziel are the top 5. Every single one of these players is known for their ability to run. Their throwing abilities may differ, but each has the ability to extend plays or get that extra first down Peyton Manning can’t get. Nothing can replace precision passing, but in an age when rookie quarterbacks are expected to start game one, being able to jog a little faster can go a long way.

Throwing in the Towel

Three weeks into the NFL season, some fans may already have a bleak feeling about their team’s year. There are two teams without a win in the AFC, and two with only a single win that recently lost an important player. It may look bad for each of these teams, but the good thing is that Jadeveon Clowney will most likely be in the NFL Draft this year. Joking aside, each team has considerable issues that may make them start thinking about the 2014 draft very soon.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are last in points scored so far this season. In addition, they are one of the worst teams on defense statistically as well. They don’t have any wins this year, and an article in USA Today is already speculating that the Jaguars may be 0-16 this year. Their normal starting quarterback, Blaine Gabbert, has been injured to start the year. But even when he plays, he has one of the lowest QBR ratings in the NFL. The recent influx of top draft picks has built some talent in the offensive and defensive lines. However, the less-than-inspirational play so far has already had some fans cheering to get Tim Tebow on the team.

The Oakland Raiders have one victory to their name so far. They have had one bright spot in the quarterback play of Terrelle Pryor. He has a middle-of-the-pack quarterback rating, but does lead his team in rushing. The problem is that he suffered a concussion during the last Monday Night Football game and is now questionable. They also have a roster loaded with young players, however many of them aren’t first round picks. There has been a lot of turnover with a new coach and general manager in Oakland, and the product on the field has suffered.

The Pittsburgh Steelers don’t have a win this year either. They are dealing with injuries and with a struggling offensive line. They will get one of their early draft picks back this week with running back Le’Veon Bell. They could use him in order to improve their third worst ranked scoring offense. The defense remains full of linebacker talent and several former Pro-Bowl players. However, the advancing age of players like Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor have raised concerns about the Steelers’ stability at these positions in the future.

The Cleveland Browns are coming off a 31-27 victory over the Minnesota Vikings that showed they still have some talent on their team. However, the trade of starting running back and former top-5 draft pick Trent Richardson had many fans speculating that they were giving in this season. The trade gave the Browns another first round pick next year. In addition, there were more trade rumors surrounding other top players on the team. The team fought hard enough last Sunday to get a win, but with a new coach and a new system, there is always a possibility for turnover.