Justice Is Served

November 2, 2009 2:31 PM

Ginn Jr. puts his name back in spotlight

The name “Ginn” might be as popular to sports fans on the East Side of Cleveland as any last name since “Brown” – as in Jim Brown.

Unlike the name Brown, the last name Ginn has nothing to do with the Cleveland Browns. The prestige the name carries comes from great high school football. The name is stamped everywhere on perhaps the most successful all-black football program in the Midwest.

The program at Glenville High is the handiwork of one man, a man who played football for the school in the early 1970s. His name is Ted Ginn Sr., and his coaching and mentoring have sent a stream of black players to elite college programs like Ohio State and Michigan.

Coach Ginn has a fistful of talented teens headed to major colleges from his current Tarblooders, a team that’s a legitimate contender for the state title in Ohio’s big school division. You can’t talk about high-school football on this side of the city without hearing Ginn’s name.

What Ginn has done with the Tarblooders is a miracle – if it isn’t, it’ll serve as one until an according-to-Hoyle miracle comes along. He has made a name for himself – and for his football program.

No telling how much bigger his name might be if his most famous alum were to live up to his potential. His name is Ted Ginn, too. He has “junior” at the end of his, and he was the most talented player to ever come out of the Cleveland Public Schools.

Some people might argue that Troy Smith was better. They would be right if they were talking about what Smith did after Glenville. He won the Heisman Trophy at Ohio State in 2007, and he’s earning a living as a backup QB in the NFL.

In high school, Smith was no Ginn. Few in the country were. He was the most electric player this region had ever seen, and his play at Ohio State, where he teamed with Smith, was every bit as high voltage as what he had done in high school.

Ted Ginn Jr. was expected to take that same star power to the pros. He was, after all, No. 1 draft pick. He would do more for the Ginn last name, people said, than have it be remembered for the charter school Ginn Sr. founded. Ginn Academy is a wonderful legacy, but it can never bring the last name the universal fame that comes from starring in the NFL.

Three years into his pro career, Ginn Jr., a fleet wide receiver and kick returner, is far from an NFL star; he has been, as one Dolphins legend has put it, an "embarrassment." He’s been a much maligned talent in Miami – gifted player unable to live up to his pedigree.

His critics have called him soft and undisciplined, likely to drop a pass than catch it. They are right. His contributions to the Dolphins have been so minimal that a person would be hard-put to find his name when combing through game statistics.

He looked as if he was just another in a long line of No. 1 disappointments – until Sunday.

In a 30-25 win over the Jets, Ted Ginn Jr. played like Ted Ginn Jr. was always supposed to play. He returned pair of kickoffs for touchdowns, a feat that earned Ginn more attention in one day than he had gotten in his entire NFL career.

People were talking about Ginn Jr., talking about him the way they talked about him in high school and in college. Ginn Jr., 24, was a highlight on SportsCenter, drawing what he hadn’t been able to: praise.

Glenville alums noticed. His day in the spotlight was where most of them thought he should have been all along. They believed the Ginn name had magic attached to it.

It does, no matter what Ted Ginn Jr. does in Miami. He can never get away from that last name here.

His father’s success will assure that. For Ted Ginn Sr. continues to roll out talent at Glenville, talent that owes its development to a 50-something man whose son tries to carry their last name beyond this city’s East Side.

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