The question for my report is, What impact has Eddie George had on sports. Eddie George played a big role in the world of football. He and Steve McNair led the Tennessee Titans to the Superbowl, but they lost. Eddie George was 8, just another young kid on the neighborhood playground who fantasized about winning the Heisman Trophy, when his mother, Donna, began to get his life in the order she wants him to grow up in. “Eddie would never stop,” said Donna’s mother, Jean McCarthy, whose yard in suburban Abington Township, served as one of her grandson’s playgrounds. “His friends would be saying, come on, Eddie, we gotta rest, we gotta rest, but Eddie would say, no, no, we gotta play, we gotta play. “He was always running,” Jean McCarthy said. “No surprise to me he turned out to be a running back.”(7)
As Eddie was growing up, he put team goals before his. He wanted to play football, he wanted to go to college by playing football, he wanted to win the Heisman Trophy, and he wanted to play in the pros. His mother Donna said, ” to fulfill those goals, you have to build up your character.” She was the “architect” in the family. Eddie, 22, and his sister Leslie, 25, who works for an insurance company in suburban Philadelphia, grew up in a single parent household, after their mother separated in 1980 from their largely absentee father, also named Eddie. They were later divorced, and Donna said that Eddie’s relationship with his father remains distant. (5)
However, “the single- parent” is misleading for despite the circumstances, Eddie and his sister were reared in a structured, loving and religious environment, not only by their mother, but by her parents Fred and Jean. Jean usually was there to help during the years that Donna worked two and sometimes three jobs. She was determined to do more than make ends meat. Their mother was a very busy woman; for the first nine years of Eddie’s life, she was a production manager at Ford Aerospace during the day and a fashion model during the night. Later that year, she joined TWA to be a flight attendant and she left Ford Aerospace. In later years as her children became more expensive, she also took on extra work as a product importer and banquet caterer. Donna didn’t do the fashion shows every night, but when she did, she used to take Eddie and Leslie to work with her and have them finish their homework until it was time to go. She also took them to show them that what ever they wanted in life, they had to work hard for, sitting on their tails and praying to God wasn’t going to get it.
Eddie attended Catholic grade schools for six years and like most other boys that age, he loved sports. But his mother also made sure he was exposed to many other things. Ballet, theater, playing the drums, and scouting were just some of the things that he did. Eddie was a boy who never wanted to lose, after his friends would get tired of running and go inside, he would go inside and challenge his grandmother to an Atari game. He was close to being the perfect kid, involved, respectful to his elders, conscientious and caring. He was doing the right things, then he turned 15. “That’s the year he shot up,” Donna said. “He was looking down on all of us. She meant how much taller he grew that year, but there was a figurative meaning in her words as well.
Donna had slowly been loosening the apron strings. When Eddie turned thirteen, she took him along to London on a flight she was working. There she let him sight see on his own one afternoon while she flew to Frankfort, Germany, and back. Then, when he was fourteen, she let him fly on his own to Penn State’s football camp in central Pennsylvania. Eddie celebrated his growing independence in the strangest ways. The day his mother took him to the airport to go up to Penn State, she gave him some money to get his hair cut before they left. When they got to the airport he was wearing a hat and his mom never let him wear hats inside anyplace, so she told him to take it off. He fiddled with for a moment but finally took it off. When he did, his mother just stared at him, then she asked who named him zerro, because he had a big Z in the back of his head. Eddie said it was what all the other guys were doing, getting initials cut in their hair. His mom said when he got back from camp; he would work to earn the money to get another haircut, and this time there wouldn’t be a Z, or an E, or an G in it.
It’s the kind of thing most parents would smile about later in private. One year later what Donna saw happening wasn’t funny at all. Eddie was a sophomore at Abington High School that year and a hotshot- jock in the making. He got out of every club he was in. the only thing he wanted to do was play football. His respect for his schoolwork was starting to diminish because of peer pressure. He went from getting all A’s and B’s in junior high to C’s, D’s, E’s, F’s and I’s. When Donna’s brother Derek came to visit them, he stopped by his old school. While he was there, he peered into Eddie’s room and saw him acting up. Derek told Donna that Eddie was not behaving in class and mentioned to her that he should go to Fork Union Military Academy.
Donna rejected the idea the first time, because she thought that Eddie would feel he was being abandoned by his other parent. Then came the straw hat broke the camel’s back. Eddie asked his mother to pay $55 dollars so he could go to summer school to improve his math skills. A few days later, Eddie’s teacher told Donna the real reason he wanted to go to summer school. Eddie had to take the class to be eligible for football in the fall. “My 15 year old son was starting to lie to me,” Donna said. “I got on the phone to Fork Union and told them to send me an application.” One week later, she sent it back with the $400 deposit. On June 15, 1989, Eddie was off to Fork Union. After Eddie got back from Fork Union, he said he was a new man.
Eddie was also the number one draft pick of the Houston Oilers, who are know known as the Tennessee Titans. A potential life saving occasion for his mother occurred when he signed with the team. As you know, Donna is a TWA flight attendant, and she was scheduled to work on the ill- fated flight 800 from New York to Paris on July 17th. But Eddie’s agent, Lamont Smith, persuaded her to change her schedule so she could fly into San Antonio on July 19th to watch her son sign his contract. (3)
With a bowl game to go, Eddie George already has run for 1,826 yards at Ohio State this season, the most in one year at a school whose runners have won five Heismans. He has a chance to collect the sixth Saturday night in New York, where college football’s most coveted individual prize is expected to be awarded to either George, Nebraska quarterback Tommie Frazier or Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel. Eddie, the Heisman Trophy winning running back out of Ohio State, signed a five year, $6.9 million deal, including a $2.9 million signing bonus. As Eddie looks back on this, he is thankful that his mother was not one of the 230 passengers and crew who died in the fiery crash.
In an NFL season where anything goes, the Tennessee Titans have emerged as a bonafide Super Bowl contender. The league coach, Floyd Reese, has been working here for 25 years, he has coached for 17, and if there’s one player he would have to trust the most, he would put his money on Eddie George. He would do every single thing in his power to get the Titans where they’ve got to get. The thing about George is he can do it, too. He can carry a team on his muscled back like few other backs in the league can, even if people tend to forget it. It has been George, who has kept the offense chugging along while quarterback Steve McNair has slowly matured. (6)
George has started every game in his four-year career, all 64 of them. “Eddie brings us a little something,” says Reese. “He brings us that toughness. In his mind, he can go out and gain 200 yards every week, if you give him the ball. And I’m not so sure he’s wrong.” George may not be considered the best back in the NFL, but there are plenty of arguments to be made why he should be. He’s one of only four backs to run for at least 1,200 yards in each of his first four seasons.
The 6-foot-3, 240-pound George is among the strongest and most durable backs in the league, a punishing runner who has averaged more than 300 carries a season every year he’s been in the league. “I don’t like tackling him,” Saints cornerback Ashley Ambrose said. “I’m trying to bring that guy down by myself and it’s tough.” Still, people wonder about George. He has been criticized for wearing down, even with his fanatical attention to fitness. In the second half of each of his first three seasons, his average per carry dropped significantly. Eddie George has had troubles in the second half of seasons, until this year. He’ll rip off a 199-yard game, as he did against Oakland earlier this year, then follow it with a 55-yarder, as he did against Atlanta. He looks like the real deal sometimes, but he hasn’t come close to the running back’s Holy Grail, a 2,000-yard season.
He had one string, from late last season into the early part of this one, where he went 12 straight games without gaining 100 yards. In his first three seasons, only five of his 18 100-yard games came in the second half of the season. And you know what? George hears all the criticism. He even agrees with much of it. “I haven’t had that big year yet, but I’ve been consistent,” says George, his voice trailing off. “I’m not going to sit up here and say I don’t strive for that. It can happen in due time. But, right now, it’s like ‘Why should I be mentioned along those lines?'”
Still, it’s what George has brought to the Titans that makes this team one of the biggest threats in these playoffs. He is what makes the offense run, he is why McNair gets his opportunities to create. Opponents know, simply, that to stop Tennessee, they have to first stop George. And the Titans know that to win, they have to get George in a groove. They are 13-0 when he carries at least 27 times. “I’m not a Jerome Bettis-type runner,” George says. “I’m quick enough and strong enough to miss hits, too. My style is not getting a lot of punishment. When the situation is right, I do what I can do.”
This season, George’s critics have been silenced, mostly. He has upped his yards-per-carry almost a full yard in the second half. Four of his five 100-yarders came in the final eight games. He is as fresh as he’s ever been at this point of the season. So when he walks out on the Adelphia Colisuem field this weekend for the Titans’ first playoff game since 1993, with the chants of 67,000 Tennessee fans ringing in his ears, Eddie George will be expected to do what he has done for this franchise for the past four years. Carry them as far as he can.
In conclusion, I think Eddie George has had a major impact on sports. Because when he pushed his team during the Superbowl, other players might have been thinking of how they can push their team during the next season.
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