Golden’s nuggets: Elliot’s tweet an unwelcome distraction for Tom Herman

July 18, 2018
UT Head Football Coach Tom Herman during spring football practice at Frank Denius football practice fields.Tuesday, March 20, 2018. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

There are no winners in this DeShon Elliott-Tom Herman story.

Elliott, now a safety with the Baltimore Ravens, is obviously perturbed from what he apparently believes to be backstabbing coming from some members of the Texas coaching staff because he and others declared early for the NFL draft.

“If you really ‘loved’ your players the way you portray (them) you wouldn’t continually talk bad about them behind closed doors,” Elliott tweeted Wednesday. “Bad mouthing us to our brothers who we played for and cried and sweat for way before you stepped on campus.”

With the season opener just over a month away, Herman now has a perception problem on his hands. No coach wants his players speaking out about conversations that go on behind closed doors and if Elliott is to believed, it sounds as if one or more of his former teammates have relayed those conversations to him. Hey, kids talk. Coaches know that, but it’s what they say that can damage a coach’s reputation.

It should be noted that Herman and his assistants have never publicly ripped a player unfairly. From my dealings with him, Elliott has always been a low-key guy who preferred to let his play on the field speak for him rather than hold court in front of a gaggle of reporters.

For him to speak out against Herman and for Connor Williams — who also sat out the Texas Bowl — to tweet “I hear you brother” in response to one of Elliott’s post — is the last thing Herman needs. He’s smart enough to know that responding in anger will only feed the fire. Expect him to wish Elliott well and get back to the business of trying to win football games.

UT athletic director Chris Del Conte and Herman told reporters they were proud of wideout Lil’Jordan Humphrey after he posted a poem about his view of the black condition in America this past week.

Whether you agree with his take or not, Humphrey’s decision to post his thoughts was his to make. While some think it wasn’t his place to be so opinionated as a scholarship player on one of the most revered programs in America, understand that football isn’t forever. His political beliefs are personal truths and might not jibe with everyone’s, but that’s the beauty of being American — the freedom of speech.

If Dylan Haines can speak out on political and social issues while wearing burnt orange — and he did a lot of that on Twitter during a 2016 season that led to some back-and-forth in the media with some of his younger teammates — then why can’t Humphrey?

The San Antonio Spurs traded Kawhi Leonard to Canada because there isn’t an NBA team in Russia.

Coach Gregg Popovich spoke respectfully of Leonard Wednesday after the Spurs shipped their disgruntled superstar and Danny Green to the Toronto Raptors for all-star guard DeMar DeRozan, center Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first-round draft pick.

“Kawhi conducted himself wonderfully while he was here,” Popovich told reporters. “He helped us win a fifth championship and was a hard worker all the time. We wish him well, but at this point, it’s time to move on.”

Toronto would be smart to try and ship Leonard before the February trade deadline because he could leave for the team of his choice after next season and the Raptors would be left with nothing to show for it. They can offer him a five-year, $190 million contract next summer, but I don’t see him taking it.

When you read stories about Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell turning down a five-year, $70 million contract, don’t forget to check the number that matters: The guaranteed money.

Bell, 25, would have pocketed a guaranteed $30 million over the first two years of the deal but the Steelers held all the cards for the next three, which means they could have released him without owing one red cent or an explanation.

While some in the Twitterazi are calling him greedy, Bell, who averaged 105 yards per game from scrimmage, is right to hold out because his workload and his value to the Steelers at this point in his career is nearly as important as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who’s slated to pull in $17 million this year. Bell wants similar money and I don’t blame him. Shoot, Rams receiver Brandin Cooks will make $16 million this season and he doesn’t take the pounding that Bell does. And a case can be made that Bell is a much better receiver.

Yes, I know a running back’s prime is very short, but that’s why Bell is right to demand more money. He’s not just the top running back, but a top-five player overall.