Mark Edwards' In My Opinion: Fluker doesn't seem like the bad guy in this story
by Mark Edwards
Sep 12, 2013 | 2369 views |  0 comments | 41 41 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The national fallout from the Yahoo! Sports story alleging former Alabama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker and four other SEC stars accepted "improper" benefits from sports agents seems curious.

It's hard to find anyone who wants to bash Fluker on this one.

That wasn't always the case in the past for college athletes under fire. Former Alabama stars Gene Jelks and Antonio Langham struggled with a bit of backlash in the 1990s when they were at the center of scandals that led to NCAA sanctions for the Crimson Tide football program.

But Fluker seems the poster child for the arrogance and basic unfairness of NCAA rules regarding what athletes are allowed and not allowed to receive.

Fluker played football at Alabama, which generated $125 million in athletic revenue. His coach, Nick Saban, receives more than $5 million a year in salary. Fans paid as much as $2,000 (or more) for tickets to see Fluker and his teammates beat Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship Game this past January.

Fluker, of course, wasn't allowed to receive even a sliver of that money, because of NCAA rules.

According a facinating profile published by the San Diego Union Tribune in August, Fluker was homeless as a child, living out of a car with his mother, younger brother and two younger sisters. And then Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.

Running from the hurricane, he and his family arrived in Mobile in a car almost empty with gas, a $25 store gift card and $2.75 in loose change. Alabama generated enough revenue for 5 million of those gift cards in 2012.

And according to NCAA rules, voted upon and approved by NCAA schools, we're supposed to be up in arms about Fluker possibly taking some money before he received his big contract from the San Diego Chargers, who signed him this summer to a multi-million dollar deal?

Sorry, we understand the value in everyone following the rules, even the ones that don't appear just. But don't expect all that many folks to lead the cheers on this one.

Contact Sports Editor Mark Edwards at medwards@annistonstar.com. Twitter: @MarkSportsStar.
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