The Oakland Raiders today re-signed DT Richard Seymour to solidify the return of their solid defensive tackle tandem that features him and Tommy Kelly. The deal is reportedly for 2 years, $30 million. Late last season, Seymour went as far as to say he saw himself retiring as a Raider – quite the 180 from the guy who seemed hesitant to report to Oakland after being traded 2 seasons ago. Nonetheless, Seymour emerged as a leader in the clubhouse and a force to reckon with on the field. Though I had plenty of doubts when he was first acquired, it was apparent, last season especially, that the improvement shown by the Raiders all stemmed from the dominance of the front four. It’s a lot of money, but if he produces at the same level as last year, I’m on board with this deal.
In other news…… Another thing I’m on board with is Bill Russell being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom today. Most know him for winning 11 titles with the Boston Celtics, along with back to back NCAA titles at USF. Most forget about all the work he put in off the basketball court in the civil rights arena.
Below is the official White House transcript of Obama’s remarks about Russell:
When Bill Russell was in junior high, he was cut from his basketball team. (Laughter.) He got better after that. (Laughter.) He led the University of San Francisco to two championships. In 13 seasons with the Boston Celtics, he won 11 championships — a record unmatched in any sport. Won two while also serving as the team’s coach. And so happens, he also was the first African American ever to hold such a position as a coach in a Major League sports team of any sort. More than any athlete of his era, Bill Russell came to define the word “winner.”
And yet, whenever someone looks up at all 6 feet 9 inches of Bill Russell — I just did — (laughter) — I always feel small next to him — and asks, “Are you a basketball player?” — surprisingly, he gets this more than you think, this question — (laughter) — he says, “No.” He says, “That’s what I do, that’s not what I am. I’m not a basketball player. I am a man who plays basketball.”
Bill Russell, the man, is someone who stood up for the rights and dignity of all men. He marched with King; he stood by Ali. When a restaurant refused to serve the black Celtics, he refused to play in the scheduled game. He endured insults and vandalism, but he kept on focusing on making the teammates who he loved better players, and made possible the success of so many who would follow. And I hope that one day, in the streets of Boston, children will look up at a statue built not only to Bill Russell the player, but Bill Russell the man.