Yesterday, I was able to talk some football with Oakland Raiders FB Oren O'Neal. Out of nowhere, I found myself in a conversation with the third-year player out of Arkansas State. It was during Robert Gallery's cruise party, in which Gallery held a fundraiser for the Oakland Police who were killed in the line of duty.
There were old school cars, low riders, you name it. Walking around the event were players such as Gallery, JaMarcus Russell, Zach Miller, Erik Pears, and a few others. I got there towards the end. Someone told me Tom Cable was there, but I didn't see him.
Looking from the outside in, the life of a NFL player has great pros, but there are many cons just as well.
It has to be annoying going to a function, event, mall, or even grocery store, and every 10 seconds a fan is asking for a picture or autograph, or calling your name out with their hand to their mouth.
I understand, and really, to me, it's no big deal. What I care about most is how you perform on the field. What's the point of getting a picture with an athlete if they aren't any good?
I'm a big JaMarcus Russell fan, and yesterday I was able to see him for the first time. Russell's swagger is through the roof. If you have seen those press conferences last season after each game, then you know what I'm talking about.
It's crazy how big and tall he is. It's a wonder how defensive players are able to bring him down. But to be honest, he kind of struck me the wrong way.
I'm not hating on dude, because I really do like his game, even though he's got a long way to go, but I just don't understand this dude. He walks around with an un-lit cigar in his hand, a louie bag over his shoulder, and like 10 pounds of diamonds around his neck and wrist, with a crew of like five guys.
For fans, it's hard to get close enough to even ask for pictures. But when you do ask, he gives off vibes that you are bugging him and he doesn't want to.
As I sat back and watched this, I could understand, picture after picture, why it could take a toll on someone.
But man, you are the face of the franchise for the Oakland Raiders. You are the QB. If you come to an all-Raiders event, then you should take as many pictures and sign as many autographs as you can—or just don't come at all.
I saw JaMarcus reject a few people. It was funny. Even when he rejects he talks in such a smooth, low-key voice. He isn't trying to be rude, but the attitude he gives off is—but hey, what can you do? You can't please everyone.
Either way, it doesn't really matter. There could be 100 fans right in front of you, and if aren't nice to one or reject a photo with them, you are labeled a jerk, rude, and cocky.
Everything about this guy is flashy, thugged out, and straight baller. Dude looks like a BET Uncut music video rapper. It's hard to think this guy is only 24.
End of the day, I just want him to play well and rep the Oakland Raiders correct, meaning wins.
As I walked around, I saw Oren O'Neal standing by himself watching the events unfold. Oren was so casual that he blended in with the Raiders fans—far different than some of the other players.
O'Neal was in a plain white T-shirt, grey shorts, and Jordan slippers. All these Raiders fans walking around, and yet few even recognized Oren. I thought to myself, what are the chances of being able to talk Raiders football with a real life Oakland Raider?
O'Neal is the type of dude you would want to take with you to a fight. 5'11" and 245 pounds, he looks like a bowling ball with dreadlocks.
What I thought was cool about Oren was how down to earth this guy was. I was able to ask anything I wanted as we talked for about 10 minutes. All the questions I asked him were off the top of my head; nothing was pre-planned or written out.
Here are the questions I asked Oren O'Neal of the Oakland Raiders.
SR: What college did you come out of? What conference?
OREN: I went to Arkansas State. (laughs) Not too many people know about Arkansas State. It's in the Sun Belt conference.
SR: How did you come up with the No. 46?
OREN: In college I was No. 47, but when I was picked by Oakland, 47 wasn't open, so I changed to 46. Be on the lookout for 46 this season.
SR: What do you think about Ted Tollner?
OREN: The passing game will be much better this season. You'll see.
SR: Everyone knows about DHB, being the seventh overall pick in the draft. Which under the radar players will have surprise seasons? Who has looked good in the Mini-Camps and OTAs?
OREN: DHB looks good; he is quick. The surprise player will be the guy from Florida, Murphy. Louis Murphy and Chaz Schilens are looking good. He will have a good year far better then last season.
SR: Better fans, Arkansas State or Oakland?
OREN: Oakland. The Black Hole. No question. There is this one guy who always sits right by the tunnel who wears shoulder pads and a jersey with No. 57. That guy is crazy.
SR: Other than the knee issues, what else have you had surgery on?
OREN: See this scar? I had laser eye surgery. It's a trip because you're awake the whole time with your eyes open. They take this black light and flash it and you lose vision for 20 seconds.
SR: So tell me? What's it like on the road? Are there a lot of groupies?
OREN: Naw man, it ain't even like that. I'm married.
SR: What do you think of Lorenzo Neal? I think ya'll will be a great FB duo.
OREN: Neal is a great pro; he is solid. I just can't wait till we put on pads, and for Monday Night Football vs. the Chargers.
After the short talk with Oren O'Neal, I headed back to the bar area for a few beers. I saw Robert Gallery knocking down a few beers as well. Overall, I had a good time. Not a bad day at all.
Oren O'Neal is a real dude. I look forward to seeing him back on the field.