Because of that choice, Lawson (the 19th pick in last week’s NFL Draft) has himself a big fan in the Big Artistotle 22 years later.
“He was a hell of a player at Clemson,” O’Neal said, per the News. “I think he’s going to do big things in Buffalo, has the potential to come in and dominate early. The sky’s the limit for him. I can’t wait to see him play.”
How did Shaq become a Lawson fan? Simple.
“I have Google alerts any time ‘Shaq’ comes up,” O’Neal said. “The past four or five years — I think I’ve ran into about 150 athletes named Shaq — Shaq Lawson kept coming up. So I’ve known who he was and been a fan of him. I’m most proud of him.”
Shaq is not only a fan of his namesake, though. He’s also an advocate. He’s trying to get Lawson (and all the other Shaqs) an ensorsement deal.
“I told Reebok we should sign up all the Shaqs,” O’Neal said, though he may have been joking. “They said they were going to look into it.”
For what it’s worth, Nike is now the official uniform provider of the NFL. It used to be Reebok. Maybe O’Neal can work some kind of deal to get them back in the game when Nike’s contract is up.
When Dave Caldwell and Gus Bradley were hired by the Jacksonville Jaguars back in 2013, they took over a team that had just finished 30th in the NFL in both yards and points allowed. After three full seasons at the helm, not much has changed for the Jacksonville defense on the stastical surface.
The 2015 Jags finished 24th in yards allowed and 31st in points allowed. In many other defensive metrics, things have largely stayed the same under the new regime as they were the year before they took over.
One thing that has changed drastically, though, is the personnel. Of the 32 players that stepped on the field for the Jaguars defense in 2012, only three remain with the team: linebacker Paul Posluszny and defensive linemen Ryan Davis and Tyson Alualu. The other 29 are all gone. Some, like Brandon Marshall, Terrance Knighton, Darryl Smith, and C.J. Mosley, are thriving to different extents elsewhere. Others are out of the league altogether.
In three offseasons prior to this one, the Jaguars devoted just north of 53 percent of their free agent spending to defensive players, but invested most of their draft capital (determined by the Jimmy Johnson draft value chart) in building out an offense. This offseason, though, the Jags ramped up the devotion to defense, using all but one of their draft picks on defensive players after spending nearly 60 percent of their free agent money on defense as well.
Six of Jacksonville’s seven 2016 draft picks were used on defensive players, the lone exception being Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen. Their first two picks – former Florida State safety Jalen Ramsey and former UCLA linebacker Myles Jack – were considered by some to be the two best defensive players in the draft. After taking those two early, Jacksonville loaded up on defensive linemen in the second half of Day 2 and Day 3. Sheldon Day, Yannick Ngakoue, Tyrone Holmes and Jonathan Woodard can provide depth behind all those expensive free agents the Jags have dropped coin on over the last few years.
But this isn’t an unheard of strategy, actually. Current Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer, then with the Bengals, demanded a trade and said he would retire if Cincy didn’t acquiesce to his demands.
“I have $80 million in the bank. I don’t have to play football for money,” Palmer said in 2011. “I’ll play it for the love of the game but that would have to be elsewhere. I’m prepared to live my life.”
Bengals owner Mike Brown wouldn’t budge on Palmer’s request until the Raiders and Hue Jackson (shortly after Al Davis’ death) swooped in with a godfather offer that involved multiple first-round picks. Palmer was dealt to Oakland and eventually traded again to Arizona.
There’s also precedent for how the Eagles might handle Bradford walking away. Back in 1999, the franchise had a situation involving a not-quite-ready quarterback taken No. 2 overall. Sounds familiar!