NASHVILLE — It had been a tough week for San Diego Chargers rookie offensive tackle D.J. Fluker long before he was scratched from Sunday's road game at Tennessee due to concussion symptoms.
One of the biggest keys to Alabama successfully defending its national championship last season, Fluker became a major part of a Yahoo! Sports story detailing possible payments to him from sports agents while still a member of the Crimson Tide last season. If proven true, that violation of NCAA rules could be enough to jeopardize Bama's 2012 national title.
It didn't help Fluker's deniability that the following Tweet appeared from him last April, though his agent said someone had hacked into his account and planted it there.
Read the Tweet: "Yea. I took $ in college so wat. I did wat I had to do. Agents was tryin to pimp me so I pimped them. Cast da 1st stone."
But come late Sunday afternoon atop LP Field -- despite the Chargers falling 20-17 to the Titans on a 34-yard touchdown catch by former Tennessee wideout Justin Hunter with 15 seconds to go -- Fluker was all smiles as he hugged former Tide teammate and Titans rookie offensive guard Chance Warmack at the close of the game.
"He's my best friend, my best friend for life," said Warmack. "I hadn't talked to him in a long time. I was really happy to see him."
That huddle at midfield also included former Crimson Tide player and assistant coach Sylvester Croom, who was later the first African-American head coach in Southeastern Conference history at Mississippi State. He now coaches running backs for the Titans.
But reportedly due to his being scratched, Fluker was off-limits to the media.
"I can't," he replied when asked by the Times Free Press for a comment. "They won't let me. I'm sorry."
Bama fans can take some solace in Fluker's post-game attire for the long return flight to the West Coast. He wore a crimson blazer over the white dress shirt he left unbuttoned at the collar and khakis.
Warmack also seemed uncomfortable discussing the Yahoo! report.
"We didn't even talk about it," he said, but soon added, "I just wanted to let him know I'm here for him."
Contact Mark Wiedmer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark Wiedmer started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press on Valentine’s Day of 1983. At the time, he had to get an advance from his boss to buy a Valentine gift for his wife. Mark was hired as a graphic artist but quickly moved to sports, where he oversaw prep football for a time, won the “Pick’ em” box in 1985 and took over the UTC basketball beat the following year. By 1990, he was ...