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Wednesday, January 25, 2012
'Mommy sixth sense' guides athletes

By Adena Andrews

It was one of the most awkward television moments of the past decade.

All-American high school football player Landon Collins, the top-rated safety prospect in the nation, recently announced his decision to attend Alabama. The announcement, which was made on ESPN during the Under Armour All-America Game, was immediately followed by his mother's blatant disapproval.

"I feel as LSU is a better place for him to be," April Justin exclaimed in her Louisiana drawl. "Go Tigers!"

Two days after Collins made his decision, he still had not spoken to his mom.

I'm here to tell Collins he made a big mistake, and not just because Alabama is losing 16 of its 22 starters in the offseason. He should have listened to his mother.

When it comes to athletics, moms have the uncanny ability to always be right. I don't know why that is. Maybe it's an eerie talent they are blessed with upon giving birth.

Deloris Jordan used her mommy sixth sense to unknowingly change athletes' roles in the athletic apparel industry. Michael Jordan was a fan of adidas, his sneaker of choice throughout college, and he didn't welcome a meeting with a new, strange company called Nike.

In his autobiography, "Driven from Within," his parents told him, "Why don't you try all of [the companies] before you make a choice." However, the night before the meeting, Jordan called Deloris and James to tell them he would not meet with Nike. That's when the mommy sixth sense kicked in.

"Michael, when we pull up to the airport tomorrow, you better be ready to get on the plane," Mama Jordan said. "You are going, and you are going to listen. Whether or not it's your choice, you always need to show respect and listen."

Jordan went to the meeting, and the rest is history.

In Wayne Stewart's book "Alex Rodriguez: A Biography," there is the story of a young A-Rod, who was "drained and defeated" and wanted to leave the Seattle Mariners organization after multiple demotions during his early years. His mother, however, wisely advised against it.

He went on to become a 14-time All-Star, three-time MVP and a World Series champion.

Moms just get it.

Collins is a grown man and is free to do what he wants; after all, it's his future, and he has to put in the hard work on the field.

In a recent "SportsCenter" interview, he said he stuck with his decision because he didn't want to live with any regret or hatred toward his mom if he didn't like LSU. Collins has until Feb. 15 to rescind his decision. National signing day is Feb. 1. Once Collins signs his letter of intent, he has two weeks to change his mind.

But his tone in the "SportsCenter" interview was one of unwavering conviction. I'm glad Collins has a backbone, but he still may regret his decision.

If Collins doesn't fare well at Alabama, he will face another weapon in the mom arsenal: a lifetime of eye rolls and "I told you so." It may also be hard for Collins to play without his mom cheering him on from the crowd. After her flagrant disrespect toward Alabama, I suspect the Crimson Tide faithful will not welcome her with open arms to Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Some of the most successful players in sports are mama's boys, who still receive matriarchal praise from the crowd. Ray Allen's mom rocks a bedazzled version of his jersey at Celtics home games; Allen Iverson's mom was present at each home game, holding a glitter-laden poster reading, "I'm Allen Iverson's mom." Kevin Durant's mother isn't afraid to give her baby a little sugar on television after the game.

Mommy support isn't the main reason these players have been successful, but it sure doesn't seem to hurt. (Collins, on the other hand, may have to imagine what it feels like to blow his mom a kiss after his first big tackle.) In recruiting, the rule is, "If you get the mom, you get the kid." Alabama already has the kid; if coach Nick Saban turns on that Bama charm, Collins' mother could soon be rolling with the Tide.

Until then, Collins will have to roll with the Tide (and the punches), and remember that Mama knew best.