For those of you who are hung up on why I blather so much about player compensation, here’s a little story that should hit close to home.
As Gurley helped lift Tarboro to the heights it has sustained through today, life outside of football posed the kind of challenges shared by many of Tarboro’s residents. He lived in Lone Pine mobile home park (now Pine Valley) and, according to reports, didn’t have cable TV. Babb, the offensive coordinator and then-JV coach, remembers sometimes getting a call from Gurley asking for a ride on school days because he overslept.
“He didn’t have an alarm,” Babb says. “He didn’t have any lights on in the house. His mom worked and was doing the best she could. I think that’s what’s made him who he is. That’s why he’s humble and appreciative and gives God the credit.”
Once, with his youngest son in the car, Craddock gave Gurley a ride home. His son, like many kids in Tarboro, adored Gurley. When they got to Gurley’s trailer, the first-grader had a tough time processing why the star football player didn’t live in a larger home.
“In time,” Craddock told his son, “Todd will have a house that our house will fit into.”
[As an aside: During Gurley’s junior year in college at Georgia, the NCAA suspended him for four games after determining he had accepted $3,000 over two years for signing memorabilia. Imagine what three grand over two years for signing your name to some gear would mean to someone with Gurley’s background. Then consider how fair a system is that not only disallows such a thing but strips the player of a quarter of his season’s games as that player is auditioning for a profession that could give him and his family generational wealth.]
It’s even fairer when you consider McGarity’s gutless behavior regarding the suspension. But, hey, Gurley’s the selfish one, amirite?