Ex-Miami Dolphins DL Jared Odrick blasts ‘puppet’ players who never voice opinions

The Dolphins’ Jared Odrick (98) hits Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in 2014. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Conceding that by speaking out he’s likely ending any chance of playing in the NFL again, former Dolphins first-round draft pick Jared Odrick wrote a critical opinion piece published by the Sporting News on Tuesday in which he says too many professional athletes are “puppets” afraid to speak out on social issues.

Odrick, a free-agent defensive lineman who played for Miami from 2010-14, lauds Colin Kaepernick’s courage but criticizes those who abide by a code of remaining tight-lipped on non-football issues.

“The player who chooses to stand out has already ended his career,” Odrick wrote. “Much like the way I will likely end mine.”

Jared Odrick. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

Odrick criticizes Michael Jordan for being apolitical and LeBron James for not speaking out forcefully enough. He saved his harshest words for retired linebacker Ray Lewis, who both criticized those kneeling during the national anthem and joined them. Odrick wrote that Lewis is too high up on his pedestal to recognize injustice.

“Why face reality when you can have your very own statue in front of a stadium?” Odrick wrote. “Memorializing yourself is the best way to suppress the real history, whether we’re talking about pleading guilty to obstruction of justice after being charged with double homicide or, in a broader sense, genocide and slavery.”

Odrick left the Dolphins for a five-year, $42.5 million contract from Jacksonville, including $22.5 million guaranteed. He was released in February and has not been re-signed.

He painted a grim picture of the hierarchy in pro football.

“It’s a system set up by rich white men to fool young strapping black men into thinking they’re building their own identity, their own purpose, their own moral code,” Odrick wrote. “In reality, that code is written and enforced by the men in suits looking down from their skyboxes.”

The code forced upon players, he wrote, is, “Put your body at risk. Have this surgery. Don’t ask questions. Do your job. Don’t speak on non-football issues unless we approve, because you’re going to make yourself and your organization look bad.”

Odrick recalled a conversation he had during a replay timeout in New England while playing for the Dolphins. Scanning the crowd, Odrick saw cutout faces of Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman, who are white. He walked up to LeGarrette Blount, an African-American, and asked why there was no cutout for him.

“He chuckled, ‘Man, you don’t think I know the score?’ ” Odrick wrote.

Odrick asks fans to “stop idolizing puppets and turning on the ones who reveal themselves as people with formulated opinions. When you invest your money in an athlete, whether you’re watching him in person or wearing his name and number on your back, he does not owe you his silence.”

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