Rashard Anderson’s two-year ordeal is now over: the NFL reinstated DB Anderson after he petitioned the league for reinstatement for over 15 months.
Rashard, Todd Pinkston, and I all share a common bond: time spent at Forest High in Forest, Miss. Rashard and Todd graduated in 1995; after that year, I transferred to MSMS and got the hell out of Dodge. I hated Forest, and a large part of me still does in many ways. However, it was—and probably still is, in many ways—home for Rashard and Todd. I always felt a sense of quiet desperation for those who lived there and thought that they had the talent to get out. I was just passing through, and I had no qualms about burning rubber as I left town.
Many of us had a feeling that Todd, a star wideout for the Bearcats, would make it out–even if he was skinny as a rail. Rashard, on the other hand, was someone that I never expected to see drafted into the NFL. When he went to JSU and then redshirted, I realized that they’d recruited an athlete that they’d make into a football player. I didn’t figure that he’d start, much less be a star.
Rashard dropped off of my radar screen when we left town; Todd was far easier to track, especially since he’d been recruited to play football for my brother‘s alma matter, USM. Doug kept me in the loop with how Todd was doing, and when draft day came, I expected that he’d be drafted–and he was, in the second round, to the Eagles.
I didn’t realize until I read some pre-draft coverage that Rashard was going to be drafted, too. It probably didn’t help that I’d known him as Rashard Burgess back in high school; he’d changed his surname to Anderson at JSU to honor his grandmother, who’d raised him nearly from birth. I was happy to hear that he’d made it out and made something of himself.
I was highly disappointed to hear that he’d gotten wrapped up in drugs and had been suspended by the NFL. I don’t know where Rashard’s spent his last two years; maybe it’s been back in Forest, facing all the people who had cheered him in high school and at Jax State but now were left to wonder, “Where had he gone wrong?” We all err, though; few of us do so by drugs, sure, but err we do.
Make it out and stay out, Rashard. You made yourself into a football player. Make yourself into a drug-free man, brother.