Al Blades Jr never asked for his name. Al Blades Jr never asked for the pedestal. Al Blades Jr never asked for his platform.
To address those that disagree, you obviously have never truly aspired and sacrificed for something that drove you sleepless.
To address those that don’t understand, that think things only exist from the perspective of the observer, there is so much more than meets eye.
Al Blades Jr is a legacy. His father Al Blades Sr., played at the University of Miami from 1996-2000. Uncles Bennie and Brian starred for the Canes in the 1980s. We all know that. The extended reality features an individual who has circumstances and obstacles to tackle that many of us never will have or will understand.
What we DO understand is what the name Blades means to the University of Miami. What we DO understand is what the Blades of the past meant to our parents, or grandparents. We know that appreciation of the past was passed down to us in order to remember that past and appreciate what we have now.
Some of us can be reminded of that, and NEED to be on a fairly regular basis.
For someone like Blades, every morning is a reminder. Every time he puts on a practice Jersey, or walks through the same halls as his predecessors, it’s a reminder.
More than that, it’s a challenge. To be a great player is one thing. Working as a child to create love for an activity. Patiently growing to love something enough to spend hours daily working at it, to be good enough to get noticed, enough to feed ones sense of accomplishment. When you have a name in front of you like Gore, Taylor, Blades, more than a goal to reach or bar to jump over, it’s a weighted vest that makes everything that much more difficult. It’s a requirement to make sure every cut, every curl, every rep is meaningful.
Why? Is it a soft thing? Nope. That thought is frankly disrespectful. Is it a privilege thing? Nope. Some think heritage is strictly a blessing, but it frequently adds more expectation and criticism. For someone like Blades, every bad rep, curl and cut gets put under a microscope by people that have no idea what it’s like. Even worse, by people that do but refuse to give you the benefit of the doubt because of your name.
I hear it now:
Don’t make excuses for him!
Football is tough, man up!
What is this drivel!!!
What is this? It’s a view into reality. We are fans. We are not college athletes. We are not NCAA athletes. We are not people held to a historical standard. We are not held to scrutiny created by every sports outlet to cover Miami since the 80’s.
Many people say athletes sign up for the good and the bad, the wins and the losses.
That can’t be farther from the truth. Players sign up to PLAY. To pursue dreams. To be the best version of themselves.
Just because fans or analysts feel it’s a right of passage or a work place hazard to face criticism doesn’t mean it’s deserved or rightfully placed.
At the end of the day, these young men are people. Bias rolls in and we see the colors, green and orange. It rolls deeper, and we see the name, and we assume the right to hold them to standards.
It’s time we did the same for ourselves. What’s the standard for fans? Support your team and it’s players. Just the way we assume players deserve good and bad it goes both ways. There is an ebb and flow to being a fan, and much like being a human, celebrating the victories and rolling with the punches is something we have to understand.
Also, we have to remember, these are humans. More so than any year, the human race has been tackled hard. It’s a year that has so much loss, and created so much fear and anxiousness.
There is a Cane, truly a group of Canes, putting it on the line to keep things normal for themselves, and normal for us.
It should be expected, that for the simple luxury these young men provide, that none of us deserve, and for the love they show us, and our university, that we give love to them, and spread love on their behalf.
On behalf of those that get it, and for those that may not, we salute you Al Blades Jr. Here is to your swift recovery, and the return of normalcy to what has become a time that is anything but normal.
God Bless, and Go Canes