He greets me with a smile, and my first thought is that he’s bigger than he appeared on TV. He’s 6’2 and well built, even now at 6He still has the big doe eyes, the square jaw and an earring in his left lobe. Rashad tells me about the time he found himself in a crowded elevator with his friend Muhammad Ali. This was in 1996, when Ali was in the throes of Parkinson’s and he could barely speak. Ali leaned over and whispered in Rashad’s ear, You know, we two pretty motherf——.
Pick almost any celebrity from the 1970s, ’80s or ’90s, and Rashad has a story. I feel like I know a lot of people, he says. But I must’ve made an impact on them, for them to want to know me, too.
Then the thing expands, Rashad says. You end up knowing who he knows. I never stopped to try to figure that out. It helped that he spent his NFL off-seasons living in Los Angeles. His circle grew to include everyone from Arthur Ashe to Sammy Davis Jr. to Sidney Poitier. They bonded initially over sports, then over life.
Rashad’s friends say he has a wide-eyed curiosity and youthfulness about him, as if he’s forever the little brother, tagging along. He’s sort of a boy, in a funny way, says Murray, one of his closest friends. He looks kind of ageless anyway. And he can giggle. He can just start laughing—he’s got a lot of different laughs, actually—but when you get the big, deep laugh, he really sounds like a kid. Phil Knight, the Nike founder, puts it like this: He never pays and everybody still likes him.
5. I think seeing the efficiency of the World Cup replay system reinforced to me that the NFL really needs to look at what college football does, having replay officials in the booth with the power to make calls. The biggest problem I have, and I think most people have, with the current system is how clunky it can be. Having an official or two dedicated to it would amend that.
The season-ending injury Samuel sustained during the third quarter of South Carolina’s loss to Kentucky last September was, to put it simply, a huge bummer. Samuel appeared on the way toward putting together a sensational redshirt junior campaign; he’d already run back two kicks for touchdowns, recorded 250 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns, and notched one rushing score. If he can recapture the form that made him one of the biggest stories in the SEC last September, Samuel should spend conference play grilling opposing defensive backs and coverage units. An uptick in junior quarterback Jake Bentley’s accuracy—among qualifying passers, he finished seventh in the SEC in efficiency and tossed 12 interceptions last season—would further Samuel’s cause.