Michael Rosenberg profiled Trevor Lawrence for Sports Illustrated and the resulting picture was a supremely talented young man who realizes there's more to life than identifying the Mike linebacker or establishing the run in order to set up play-action to take the lid off of a defense. The former Clemson standout and expected top overall pick in the NFL Draft was infinitely refreshing in not affecting the sneer of a person with a manufactured chip on his shoulder who eats, breathes, and sleeps football.
"It's not like I need [football] for my life to be O.K. I want to do it because I want to be the best I can be. I want to maximize my potential. Who wouldn't want to? You kind of waste it if you don't."
"It's hard to explain that because I want people to know that I'm passionate about what I do and it's really important to me, but ... I don't have this huge chip on my shoulder, that everyone's out to get me and I'm trying to prove everybody wrong. I just don't have that. I can't manufacture that. I don't want to."
Because no level-headed deed goes unassailed, the absolute dumbest knuckle-draggers in the world attempted to turn this is a red flag for Lawrence. Whether he needed to or not, Lawrence offered further thoughts on his previous thoughts with a three-tweet thread that, once again, highlighted his maturity, curiosity, and humor.
Reading comprehension has always been and will continue to be a problem. What's newish, though, is people who surely know better concern-trolling over things in the name of content. And yes, The Big Lead is part and parcel of that larger ecosystem. We all have our faults. We're working on them.
But when Lawrence, who has done everything anyone would ever want him to do on the football field and off it and who has handled himself with professional composure since he was in his mid-teens feels the need to explain why he hasn't invented a Boogeyman or developed a persecution complex, it might be time to reexamine what type of first-person player narratives are rewarded. It is overly simplistic to to say the simplistic is always elevated over the complex perspective. And yet that's an extremely fair assessment of the situation.
Part of the problem is endemic. Reporters and pundits covering a certain sport are loathe to highlight just how trivial it all is because it makes their jobs appear even more trivial. Part of the problem is lack of imagination. Chip on the Shoulder Player is well-trod ground because the public can understand it after decades of repetition. The last part of the problem is that conflict, and the nail that sticks out, both sell.
Rationally recognizing that Lawrence seems to have his head screwed on straight is bad content. No one gets mad about it. No one clicks that link. There's precious little to argue about. So when these windows of normalcy appear, they need to be quickly closed by those who don't really know what to do with their hands in such a segment.
The worst part about it is that otherwise sane people on your television feel the pressure to create the rift, or invent the chip for Lawrence. It's what they've been conditioned to do through decades of sports radio and television built upon the faulty premise that the listener or viewer care more than the actual athlete.
The simple truth is that many people in this world don't need people constantly trying to pour sugar in their gas tank to make their engine run.
Here's hoping Lawrence remains true to himself and doesn't get beaten down into conforming to old tropes or keeping his true thoughts closely guarded. That would be a loss for us all.