Carmen Gordon is proud of her son. If your offspring was Melvin Gordon III, you would be, too. Although a mother’s love only goes so far.
That goes for Melvin, even if he’s the savior for the Chargers’ tepid running game.
“I’m nervous because the expectations are high,” Carmen said after Monday’s practice. “So I’m just nervous, but I’ll be nervous until next year, or maybe the third year, then I’ll get comfortable. Because I told him I won’t wear the jersey. You’ve got to earn me to wear the jersey.”
Gordon rushed for the second-most yards in FBS history last year at Wisconsin. He was an All-America, a Heisman Trophy finalist and the 15th overall pick in the draft.
But if looking for Carmen at the preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys, don’t expect a No. 28 jersey.
“You’ve got to show me a little something, but it won’t be this year,” Carmen stressed. “So you might see me in the stands, but I won’t have the jersey on. I did the same thing in college because I just want to hear what people are saying.”
Gordon was the talk of the college game in 2014 — finally Carmen relented.
“I said, ‘Let me put it on,'” she admitted.
While Melvin wrestles with the NFL’s nuances, it’s under Carmen’s watchful eye. It’s like that now that he’s a pro; it was the same way when he was a pipsqueak.
“It’s good to have that family support, someone in your corner,” Melvin said after a run-heavy practice, the team’s third straight in pads. “My mom has been watching me for a long time now and it’s always good to have that support.”
Even if it comes with jabs.
“She thinks she is a coach,” Melvin said, with a wide grin. “But she has been around long enough to see some things.”
Mother does know best: what you did in college means squat in the NFL. That’s why she’s hesitate to give Melvin a pat on the back.
“It’s a job now, that’s how I look at it,” Carmen said. With it comes a big payday and expectations.
“There’s nothing wrong with that; it makes him better,” Carmen said. “I just know he’s got to get focused. It’s a learning curve, and I get that. You want him to do so well, but I think he expects so much so fast. But he’ll get it, I know he will.”
For every Melvin misstep there is a high-stepping run through the hole. For every missed assignment, Melvin makes a wanna-be tackler whiff. Carmen spots it and knows what she’ll tell Melvin.
“Be patient,” she said, while twirling a sky blue umbrella. “This is a new game, and he’s got to learn it. This is what they do for a living, so you either have to sink or swim.”
Melvin’s head is swimming with all that is on his plate. But every practice Carmen attends comes with the knowledge her son is on Cloud 9.
“This is a dream for him,” she said. “I can imagine the pressure that is on all of these guys. But this is what he chose to do, so you have to do it well. So I’m just here to support him.”
With much affection and a dose of tough love, too.
What will be difficult for some is accepting Carmen’s No. 1 quarterback: No. 18 for the Denver Broncos.
“I’ve been watching football since I was a kid, but I never had a favorite team,” Carmen said. “But Peyton Manning is my favorite. I used to like (Philip) Rivers, but then I started liking Peyton Manning. Now (Manning) is getting a little older, but he was a bad boy back in the day. Philip Rivers was too when L.T. was here, you know I watched him a little more back then. But now I’m going to watch him even more because Melvin is on the team.”
If that includes breaking down film on No. 17, so be it.
“Yep,” she said. “I don’t know if I’m going to be right, but I’m going to look at what he’s got now. I’m going to look at him a little more closely now. But I like him. He’s a big, strong quarterback.”
With running back next to him that’s been coached-up well.
Just ask Carmen Gordon.