By Dan Bernstein–
CBSChicago.com senior columnist
(CBS) The latest salvo of truth grenades from UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen is only making news because one of them referenced the Alabama football team. There was nothing else particularly new from the outspoken NFL prospect, who has gone out of his way to use his unique position to pull back the curtain on major college football.
Rosen doesn’t need to care about what people think of him, and he knows it. Not only is he about to make millions as a pro, he could quit football tomorrow and be fine pursuing something else, knowing that his affluent upbringing has set him up for opportunity and success. He’s exploiting the system as he can and is calling out those it exploits while doing so.
Addressing those arguing for higher SAT requirements, he recently told Bleacher Report: “OK, raise the SAT requirement at Alabama and see what kind of team they have. You lose athletes, and then the product on the field suffers.”
But the feigned indignation rained down anyway from the rah-rah southern strongholds, with media gatekeepers of the plantation paradigm tsk-tsking the uppity lad about a potential red flag on his draft stock for the high crime of outspokenness. But Rosen’s arm will cash any checks his mind and mouth want to write.
Anyone making a big deal out of these thoughts of his — from the juicy pull-quotes like “football and school don’t go together” and “they don’t realize they’re getting screwed until it’s too late” and “there are guys who have no business being in school” — apparently missed the extended interview Rosen did with Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com that was published in September 2016.
He then called out the myth of the student-athlete, the inherent conflict between major sports and academics and pledged further activism.
“I have connections that will do me well in life,” Rosen said. “I will be OK without football. I want to fight for the people who won’t be OK. I’m going to actively fight for players’ rights. I want to incite change.
“I don’t give a s—t if I’m going to be taken care of with money that comes into college football,” Rosen added. “The whole idea (is) leaving a place better than you found it.”
A more informed and aware place could certainly qualify as better, as far as many of us are concerned. Rosen continues in the same way other notable players have, like Robert Smith and Cardale Jones — both of Ohio State — and former Northwestern player Kain Colter, but with even more swagger. He’s right up in the face of the game, issuing direct challenges to those invested in a one-sided power structure that he describes correctly as “indentured servitude,” specifically for those underprivileged players being used by others and receiving nothing of real value in return.
Rosen envisions an end to the entire model, as many of us do, with the veil of amateurism going away in favor of minor-league pro teams with school affiliations. It won’t be easy to get there, due to the billions of dollars being made on the backs of free labor. But if and when it happens, it will be driven by those in a position of influence shining a light on all the inherent lies and injustices.
Rosen clearly feels a responsibility to do his part and has been speaking out as loudly and passionately as possible since arriving on campus. You can bet he isn’t done.