With the high school football season climbing into its fourth month, nerds and dads everywhere are glued to their computers, attempting to promote and evaluate the country’s premier football talent. On Last week, a new prospect came to our attention – Big Sean. We examine his highlight tape, “I Don’t Fuck With You,” to see for ourselves whether he’s worth the hype.
From the beginning, Big Sean seems like a divisive prospect. Big Sean is looking to win a playoff game on the road and head to the state championship, so we’ve already got some issues. Games this deep in the playoffs are played at neutral fields, so it’s pretty clear that the school’s leadership has burned a few bridges heading into this one. A newscaster comments in the pregame that he is the “number one high school prospect in the nation” while also hoping that his poor play doesn’t cause him to lose any scholarship offers, which is weird, because damn near any program in the country will forgive just about any offense and let you come to their college for free if you’re in the top 150 prospects. The reporter indicates that Sean hasn’t been playing very well as of late, but this guy is also inexplicably holding a newspaper in front of him while he does the news, so fuck him. Our evaluations begins…Things aren’t going well. It’s rare that you see the top QB prospect in the country held to 14 points in a game, but that’s where we are with 4 minutes remaining in the game and no timeouts left. We get our first glimpse of Sean – he’s wearing #88, a pretty unusual number unless this is 1945 (and it’s still pretty unusual). It could be a Devon Gardner-esque nod to someone we’re unaware of, but he’s also not giving us a lot that indicates he knows what the hell is going on. For an elite QB prospect, he doesn’t even know how to put his chinstrap on right, and the manner in which he wears it is neither Aaron Rodgers’ single-strap, old man minimalism or Deion Sanders’s over-here-just-swangin’ style. He just looks like a 6th grader who doesn’t know how to put it on correctly, and it makes me worried for his safety.This is, however, a team under the leadership of Coach Kanye, a man unafraid to engage with the gridiron avant-garde. With 4 minutes left and no way to stop the clock, they’re understandably throwing the ball. As Big drops back to pass, we see that there are several offensive linemen wearing numbers in the 30s and 40s and several skill players wearing numbers in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Is Coach Kanye attempting to shift the football paradigm by employing smaller, quicker players up front to create numbers advantages and leverage with quickness and pad level, while putting giant goons outside who are just flat out impossible to tackle? Only time will tell, but the offense has struggled up to this point. It’s possible that Coach Kanye is a Chip Kelly of sorts, unwilling to compromise in the unflinching artistic vision he has for his team. It’s not a strategy that I’m familiar with, so I’m eagerly anticipating the results.Our heroic #88 does not get off to a good start. Coach Kanye dials up a seam play that looks like it’ll be coming wide open at any second. As both offensive and defensive coaches say, when the defensive back is still in his backpedal as the receiver is in a full sprint, “if he’s even, he’s leavin’.” All Big has to do is get it behind the defender and we’ve got an easy score. Unfortunately, he gets distracted by one of the opponents’ fans showing him her tits and woefully under-throws directly to the defender. These types of distractions are understandable, but the recent criticisms of the top-ranked prospect are valid – his throwing mechanics are a mess, and his vision has to be called into question if he’s looking in the stands during the middle of a pass play (the possibility that he has a sonar-like sense for detecting visible breasts in his immediate vicinity not withstanding). Coach Kanye appears visibly distraught. These are not the fundamental breakdowns you expect from an elite player.The next minute or so gives us a window into the mind of our star – he attempts to conquer the demons he harbors towards one of the opposing teams’ female students, whom he used to date and had his heart broken by. He, indeed, does not fuck with her. Coach Kanye is less animated, searching his mind for a solution to his star player’s mental and emotional woes. Teyana Taylor seems similarly dismayed. But Big shows grit and leadership – he rallies both his teammates andhimself in a sideline speech. While his doubt remains, Coach Kanye comes correct with the wisdom; “Focus.” Big’s reply is unspoken but palpable: “Ha ha, okay.”
Big, Coach Kanye, and the Lions find their way back with the ball. It isn’t explained how, but we can only assume that it’s due to Coach Kanye’s impenetrable defense. Big completes a post to #77, once again testing Kanye’s unorthodox personnel groupings. The throw is a complete duck and his ball flight is soft as hell, but these defensive backs are terrible and it works out okay. E-40 provides colorful commentary from the press box, immediately cementing himself as the greatest football commentator of all time. During a timeout, Coach Kanye signals the crown jewel of his high-concept offense, as a running back wearing #50 and weighing at least 300 pudding-filled pounds has his number called and attempts to put his team on the back. Okay, I just realized that it’s actually DJ Mustard, so I love my life. Anyway. It’s an impossibly ballsy call when down two scores and with no timeouts, but Mustard runs over everyone, despite a mechanically train-wrecked exchange from Big. If I can offer any critique for Coach Kanye it’s that his teams, while innovative, lack fundamentals. We’ll return to this later.
Mustard’s run over two puny and visibly-afraid tacklers ends in a touchdown that brings the score to 24-21. Still down three, I’m assuming they onside kick or something. But who cares, because they get it back with 10 seconds left and our guy has a shot to take his team to the state championship. This is where Coach Kanye’s genius appears to takes hold. The Pirates’ middle linebacker screams at Big that he doesn’t fuck with him. Their defensive line is absolutely jammed inside (ostensibly to stop DJ Mustard). They have a 1-and-3 technique on one side and a 2-and-4 technique on the other, which basically means that every single interior offensive lineman is covered up while leaving the outside (or the secondary, depending on where the hell everybody else is) comically vulnerable.
Our hero takes advantage of this, avoiding the rush and beginning to scramble. In addition to the fact that he has quite a ways to go in terms of throwing mechanics, he also holds the ball like a toddler. You’re really killing me here, Sean. The end of the ball points upward, the back end is uncovered, and worst of all, his ball security is both swaggerless and fundamentally unsound. It’s not as if he’s one-handing it like Walter Payton; instead, it looks like a bad Peewee game. Nonetheless, he puts a spin move on a couple defenders (as the aforementioned linebacker that doesn’t fuck with him runs completely in the opposite direction), and scores the game-winning touchdown. He dives once he’s already about 4 yards deep into the end zone, which is risky, as a lot of hyper-conservative, no-fun-having-ass referees will flag you for such displays of celebratory humanity.
All is well, as our protagonist gets to deny the lover who jilted him and walk off into the sunset with a newfound sense of self-love that requires no outside affirmation. The newspaper declares him “the most recruited player in history,” which comes off as a little suspect since he sucks something awful as a football player. Although visibly bad at everything, Big has shown the ability to rise of above his own demons, rally himself and his teammates in the process, and find a way to win when all seems lost. While there are clear doubts about his ability to be successful at the next level, Big’s odes to pettiness are a good fit at the high school level, where he is unquestionably one of the greatest of his time.
Nate James is a graphic artist and writer from Toledo, OH. View his art here.