Asante Samuel Jr. has trouble learning from a former NFL player: his father

They share many things. Both of them backs defenders, both 5.10 tall, both known as playmakers.

The two of them even share his name, Asante Samuel – Sr. and Jr.

But there is one thing that neither of you is particularly comfortable sharing with the other:

His style of play.

When the Chargers drafted Samuel Jr. in the second round in April, it was assumed that the father had helped train his son, that two players so similar in style, so similar in technique, had to be very similar.

Turns out that assumption was wrong.

“People say, ‘Oh, he’s Asante Samuel’s son, so of course he should play like him,’” Samuel Jr. noted. “That’s like giving his legacy and taking mine … For some people, it’s like he’s trying to live off his name. “

Said Samuel Sr .: “It is regrettable that I continue to think like this. You are making it difficult. He’s going to go crazy. I should accept it. “

The two have a relationship, one that Samuel Jr. characterized as “long distance.” In separate interviews, they expressed their love for each other.

But they haven’t spoken in months, each saying the other is trying to communicate.

Asante Samuel Sr. looks on over the field

Asante Samuel Sr. looks on during training camp for the Philadelphia Eagles in July 2009. Samuel played 11 seasons in the NFL.

(Matt Rourke / Associated Press)

Samuel Sr. said that at this time he has no plans to attend any Chargers games.

“I don’t know if he wants me there or not,” said Samuel senior. “It seems that it is not what he wants because of the energy that he puts out.”

The Chargers have 11 players who use a name suffix. There is one II and two III. Samuel is one of eight who wear Jr.

However, none of the others are named after a man who, according to some observers, should be in the Professional Football Hall of Fame, a father who played the cornerback the seal of the family and transmitted the office to his only son.

Samuel Sr., now 40, was 18 when he and his then-girlfriend Candice Doe had their only child together. They called him AJ

The couple did not stay together and since then both have formed families with other couples.

When AJ was a child, Samuel Sr.’s mother, Christine, helped raise him. In fact, she was the one who made him start playing football.

Asante Samuel Jr. with the coach

Asante Samuel Jr. with New England coach Bill Belichik when Samuel Sr. was a member of the Patriots in the mid-2000s.

(Courtesy of Samuel family)

While Samuel Jr. was attending St. Thomas Aquinas School in Fort Lauderdale, Grandma Chris died.

She meant so much to Samuel Jr. that, a few years later, he delayed filing his letter of intent with Florida State to honor her by signing it on the anniversary of her death.

“She was the piece that sustained the family,” said Samuel Jr. “It was hard for everyone who was close to her.”

At that point, Samuel Sr. explained, he and his son began to grow even further apart. He said he remembers Samuel Jr. telling him not to attend the St. Thomas Aquinas football games.

They already had a strained relationship that dates back to when, as a child, Samuel Jr. refused to agree with everything his father said.

“He had a ton of people saying ‘yes’ to everything around him,” said Samuel Jr. “I was the only one saying, ‘You could have done better.’ He was mad at me for that. I think it pushed me away a bit because of it. “

A telling incident occurred in 2010, when Samuel Sr. and the Philadelphia Eagles played Minnesota. On a pass down the wing, Samuel Sr. was defending Sidney Rice and the two came up for the ball. Rice caught the ball, but it fell out of bounds. Later, Samuel Sr. recalled that this was the play his son mentioned before any other.

“I thought, ‘What are you talking about? That doesn’t even count, ‘”he said. “The point is, I’m still waiting for some positivity from my son.”

Samuel Jr. commented that he does not remember being a critic of his father, just someone who did not always agree with him.

“You can ask any of this team,” he said. “When they ask me about my father, I say good things to them. I have no disagreement with him. I don’t know why he makes it seem like I have a problem with him. “

There is confusion between father and son, no doubt. Both argue that the real problem is the other. During training camp, Samuel Jr. pointed out that his father had not visited him. Samuel Sr. said he remembers appearing at his son’s events in the past and receiving strange looks. Their differences have been carried over to social media, and family members have been blocked and unfollowed.

Asante Samuel Sr. and Asante Jr. have fun in a parking lot in an undated photo.

Asante Samuel Sr. and Asante Jr. have fun in a parking lot in an undated photo.

(Courtesy of Samuel family)

There is consensus that the disconnect does not seem to improve, and Samuel Jr. admits: “We both could have done better.”

On Sunday, he will jog on an NFL field for the first time in the regular season. The Chargers have expectations for the player they selected at No. 47.

There will also be expectations based on the name on the back of the number 26 jersey: “Samuel Jr.”, those last two letters are the heaviest of all.

“It’s kind of disrespectful of the hard work I’ve put in,” Samuel Jr. said. “People try to take that away from me just because my father was in the NFL. But my father is not here with me every day practicing and making plays. My father is not here lifting weights, running. I did a lot on my own and with other people ”.

Samuel Jr. said he has heard the narrative for years, from “my peers, the journalists, everyone.” He wouldn’t have become a school star, he wouldn’t have made it to Florida State without his name.

But during the peak of the quarantine last year, when there was so much talk of isolation, they came together. They exercised in a Florida field, sometimes climbing through a closed door to do so.

Samuel Sr. said that the sessions took place every day for at least a month; Samuel Jr. commented that they were much less frequent than that.

Uncle Terrell Samuel, left, with Asante Samuel Jr., center, and Asante Sr.

Uncle Terrell Samuel, left, with Asante Samuel Jr., center, and Asante Sr.

(Courtesy of Samuel family)

But they did agree on what happened one morning when they focused on Samuel Jr.’s speed, running laps. sprints. At one point, Samuel Jr. fell to his knees and felt bad.

“He was looking at me in disbelief,” Samuel senior recounted. “I couldn’t believe that was happening to him. He said, ‘Dad, if you did this with any of my teammates at Florida State, they’d be throwing up just like me right now.’

Samuel Jr. initially resisted the story to admit it was true, saying, “Okay, I grant you.” He was also reluctant to talk about his father at first. Unlike Samuel Sr., he prefers to remain quiet, reserved.

Samuel senior talks about almost everything, and he talks a lot about AJ

“Will I go to a game this year?” He said. “I don’t know. What am I supposed to do, show up? If he invites me, I’ll be there. My son knows I’ll be there wherever, anyway, if it happens. some problem or need me ”.

A relationship “at a distance”, without a doubt. However, Samuel Jr. offers words that suggest little distance at all.

“That’s my father,” he says. “You only have one father. I love him to death ”.

To read this note in Spanish, click here.