LaVar Ball will say anything.
On Tuesday, Ball told the Really Big Show on ESPN 850 AM Cleveland that he was a better tight end “back in my heyday” than four-time Pro Bowler and three-time first-team All-Pro selection Rob Gronkowski (h/t TMZ Sports).
Ball—who played tight end for the London Monarchs—claimed he was “too fast, too strong” and simply a better athlete than the New England Patriots superstar.
“Once you get into a real good situation, where somebody really believes in you, that’s what you can take off to a whole other level,” he added.
Ball clearly feels he never found that situation in his football days. As B/R’s Natalie Weiner documented in March, Ball had stints on the New York Jets practice squad as a defensive end in 1994 for Pete Carroll and as a tight end for Rich Kotite in 1995.
He was ultimately loaned out to the Monarchs and served as Michael Titley’s backup at tight end.
Titley offered his take on Ball as a tight end, per Weiner:
“‘It was new to him, playing football and playing tight end,’ said Titley, now 48 and living in Houston. ‘I don’t think he had played much in college. I think he was one of the first guys that they were doing that experiment with, trying to move a basketball player to tight end.
Ball ‘at the time could run like a deer’ despite being a ‘real big guy,’ Titley said. ‘If he’d had a couple opportunities and some more time, I think he could have made something of himself football-wise.’
Former Monarchs cornerback Kenny McEntyre had a far different perspective.
“Man, he’s talking all that junk—and he was garbage,” he told Weiner. “Personally, I think the most athletic people in the world are basketball players, and he actually wasn’t a bad athlete, to be honest with you. But he was no comparison to what his kids are—let’s just put it like that.”
Former Jet Marvin Williams offered his take as well.
“I remember Ball very well,” he told Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. “He was a very athletic guy and raw. I remember him very well because he played only one year of college football. I remember a very confident guy and, yes, he voiced his opinion and was cocky, but overall seemed like a great guy.”
It’s hard to imagine that Ball, who never played a game in the NFL and was a backup in Europe, was anywhere near the level of a player like Gronkowski, who has a remarkable 68 career touchdowns in 88 games. And while Ball was a converted basketball player, others in that category—such as Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham—have had wildly successful NFL careers.
But Ball’s brashness is good for business. The more outlandish the commentary, the more his name makes the rounds in social media, in turn keeping him and the Big Baller Brand in the spotlight.
Which is why he will say anything.
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