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Tribal Warfare
06-16-2012, 08:33 PM
Robert Poe kept younger brother Dontari off wrong path even as he slid down it into Prison (http://www.kansascity.com/2012/06/16/3661681/inside-outside.html)
By KENT BABB
The Kansas City Star

Dontari Poe walked Thursday with his helmet in his hand. Sweating. Panting. Nothing easy about this.

It was a hot day at Chiefs headquarters, the team’s rookie nose tackle among those working in the heat. Poe was the team’s top draft pick this past April, and even on long afternoons like this, the young man is motivated.

“Not many people have done what I’ve done,” he said later. “But there’s so far to go.”

Poe was a controversial draft choice, an inexperienced defensive tackle at the University of Memphis with few big plays to his name. But he vowed that he will close the gap between raw talent and NFL success. So many others are counting on it. One is a 26-year-old man who taught Poe some of the lessons that led him here; that earned him the chance at finding a way off of Memphis’ dangerous streets and onto an NFL practice field. Anything but Poe’s full effort and focus would be cheating those who offered examples — and others who personified them.

Robert Poe is serving a seven-year federal prison sentence on a drug and burglary conviction. Things aren’t easy for him, either, though he blames no one but himself for his predicament.

“I ain’t gonna lie: It’s been real hard, man, from being on the inside watching my little brother go through what he’s going through,” Robert said from the Memphis Federal Correctional Institution. “I’ve been locked up the whole time.”

Robert admitted that he has made mistakes, and he took a path that served as a warning for Dontari. Years ago, Robert told his brother that there was something exceptional about him; there was too much at stake to risk another life on their hometown’s streets.

Last week, Robert Poe charged his phone card, pressed the inmates’ phone receiver to his ear, and discussed his own journey. Without it, maybe his brother wouldn’t have made it here. Without Dontari’s success, maybe Robert’s situation would feel that much more difficult, the years inside that much longer.

“It could be worse, know what I’m saying?” Robert said. “But really right now, me and my brother, we’re in two different worlds.”

They were the outspoken ones. Sandra Poe could see that in the early years.

Pierre, her eldest son, was quiet and calm. He let things go. But not Robert and Dontari.

“Both no-nonsense: ‘I’m not going to take no crap off nobody,’” Sandra said last week.

Dontari, the youngest, followed his older brothers’ lead, and even so many years later, even Robert’s prison term doesn’t sway him from calling his brothers his “idols.”

Pierre, now 29 and an employee at a Memphis restaurant, taught Dontari to play the drums. Robert taught Dontari to take pride in his appearance. Their father was never in the picture, and while Sandra worked three jobs to get by, Dontari’s brothers helped teach him about manhood. They also taught him that a good brother doesn’t tell Mom about what goes on when she’s not around. Memphis’ Whitehaven area offered temptations and traps; some youngsters slipped and others pressed through.

Robert was arrested as a teen, Sandra said, and sentenced to a six-month term at a youth correctional facility. He had found his way into a bad crowd and began experimenting with drugs. Sandra said she had no idea her middle son had strayed until police caught up with him that first time.

Robert and Dontari also shared a kind of ambition that both impressed and concerned their mother. Whitehaven offers shortcuts, too. Dontari wasn’t yet a teen when Robert began cutting some of those corners, but his eyes saw Robert somehow getting the sneakers and clothes that their mother could never afford.

“All he would think was, ‘Why can’t I have them?” Sandra said. “Or, ‘If my mother can’t get it for me, I’ll get it for myself.’ ”

Pierre had been their high school’s drum major and would later attend college on a music scholarship. Dontari followed, eventually becoming a drummer in Wooddale’s marching band. Robert stayed out late, burning hours in clubs and hanging with a questionable crew. The same temptations presented themselves. The same shortcuts.

But when Dontari’s path began to mirror Robert’s, as it had so many other times, that’s when his older brother decided that it was time to break the tradition.

Dontari was in high school then, and Whitehaven’s streets were beckoning. Robert pulled him aside one day, admitting that his own life was traveling a dangerous route — but it wasn’t the one Dontari should take.

“I always thought my little brother was special. I knew he was going to be something at life,” Robert said. “… The crowd he was around, they would get in fights in the club, and I would tell him: ‘Brother, that ain’t for you.’”

Dontari had always avoided trouble, so the adjustment was easy for him. He shrugged off peer pressure, instead staying home on weekend nights or inviting his mother to join him at the mall. His upbringing and interests had reflected his brothers’ for years, but the big youngster was beginning to forge his own path.

“Dontari was happy just to come home and have a good meal to eat,” Sandra said.

He hadn’t played football until his freshman year at Wooddale. The school’s football coach, Cedric Miller, saw a big stranger in the hallway carrying a snare drum, and Miller told the boy that he expected to see him at practice the next day. Dontari joined the team and, although he was unpolished, his athleticism quickly made him a force.

Heeding his older brother’s warnings, Dontari had left Whitehaven’s dark side behind. His crew now consisted of football teammates, who were as interested in Dontari’s success as his mother.

While Dontari thrived, Robert kept making mistakes. Dontari said last week that he didn’t agree with his brother’s choices, but he understood them.

“That was his way of providing,” he said, adding that his brother now has two children of his own.

Dontari continued.

“I kind of wanted to be like him,” he said, “but the things that he was doing, it wasn’t for me. So I’m trying to follow his every move and his every step, but those weren’t the steps that he wanted me to take.

“He kind of sat me down and told me: ‘I know I’m doing this, and to be honest, it’s not the right thing for me, so it’s definitely not the right thing for you.’ He kind of sent me on another track.”

Robert saw one of Dontari’s high-school games before the police again caught up with him. This time the charges were for cocaine possession and aggravated burglary. Barely in his 20s, Robert was convicted and sentenced to seven years at a prison in Kentucky. He was transferred this year to the facility in Memphis.

“I have to wake up every day in prison and look over my shoulder,” Robert said. “And there’s nothing I can do because they don’t pay you nothing; there’s little jobs, so you know, it’s kind of hard getting by.”

Sandra said the parents of some incarcerated sons have advised her to ignore the son who so disappointed her. That would drive the point home deeper, they told her; showing Robert that his mistakes have consequences beyond the law. But she could never do that. She couldn’t bring herself to disregard one of her sons, and perhaps just as important, she wouldn’t let her other two boys ignore the example sitting inside that prison cell.

The family visited Robert monthly when he was in Kentucky. Since being moved to Memphis, Sandra said she now sees her middle son once a week. She usually took her other two sons with her, allowing Dontari to see during his formative years, through the transition from boy to man, his brother as an example.

Robert said he accepted his role in Dontari’s life.

“His success do mean a lot,” Robert said, “so it’s very important to us because we came from nothing. We ain’t never really had nothing.”

Dontari earned a scholarship to the University of Memphis, where he developed an uncanny combination of size and quickness. He was never a star, but he showed enough flashes that the stories the family told Robert on those visits sometimes sounded incredible. Did Robert know that his younger brother was one of the Tigers’ best defenders? Had he heard that Dontari might be a first-round pick in the NFL draft?

After a breathtaking performance at the combine, in which Dontari showed the athleticism of a player 50 pounds lighter, he confirmed his place as a first-rounder. It was the payoff of a warning issued years earlier, and proof that sometimes the things that drive a man aren’t so much what he wants to be, but what he doesn’t.

“He kind of sent me on another track,” Dontari said, “which is a reason why I am where I am.”

On a Thursday night in April, inmate No. 23041-076 at Memphis FCI watched on television as the remains of a fragmented family gathered at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.

“It’s a blessing and a curse,” Robert said, “because I’ll be thinking about how good of a feeling it is, but I’ll be so sick that I can’t get out there right now. It’ll be kind of wearing down on me. I’m all right, though.”

He watched as the Chiefs selected Dontari with the No. 11 overall pick, and Robert’s younger brother wore a tailored, dark suit with a striped tie and lavender pocket square as he walked onto the stage to hold up his new red jersey. Robert, always a man who appreciated fine clothing, called Dontari later. He told him he looked good.

Now more than two months later, life has changed for Dontari. It has remained the same for Robert. He and Sandra said he’s scheduled to be paroled in three years, ahead of his sentence’s maximum release date, in March 2017.

“He has matured so much since he has actually been incarcerated,” Sandra said. “Now he can see the light. He tells me all the time: ‘Momma, you were right.’”

For years, Robert set an example for Dontari. Now, Robert said, it’s Dontari setting an example for him. He said his brother’s success makes the days and weeks pass more quickly, and instead of thinking about empty time behind locked doors, Robert now thinks about what it’ll be like to see his brother play at Arrowhead Stadium.

“I think about it a lot,” he said, “thinking about how my life is going to be changed and just revolving around him and watching him do great things.”

A moment later, he continued.

“I surely can’t wait to get out,” he said, “and be with him.”

Dontari, sitting in the Chiefs’ locker room after another hard day, smiled when he was asked about examples and blessings — and the unusual places they sometimes spring from. He said he realizes the path here was difficult, and the path ahead will be, too. Even on the hot days, the long days and the frustrating days, he said he’ll never take this opportunity for granted. Because he thinks of the day, too, when Robert might see with his own eyes the result his warning paid for. That, he said, will be a good day.

“He’d better come. He’d better come to all my games,” Dontari said. “… He took care of me. I’m going to take care of him now.”

CrazyPhuD
06-16-2012, 10:06 PM
When you're Poe, sometimes the wrong path is the only path.

Phobia
06-16-2012, 10:32 PM
I don't get any of this jumbled mess. On one hand the elder brother is painted as a victim of circumstance and then he takes responsibility and then some other crap... Then his quote says that they don't pay him anything for the work he does inside the joint.... yeah, that's how it works. I appreciate the effort and research that went into this piece but it's all over the place for me.

ghak99
06-17-2012, 12:06 AM
What a cluster **** of an article... Terrible read.

Phobia
06-17-2012, 12:10 AM
What a cluster **** of an article... Terrible read.

That's what I'm trying to say. Joe Posnanski would have had me sobbing at the end. Babb just turned it into a complete disaster.

Chiefaholic
06-17-2012, 12:29 AM
Interesting article, despite Babb screwing it up. Rags to riches stories are always intriguing and makes me root for Poe to have a long and successful career in the NFL.

Hog Farmer
06-17-2012, 01:07 AM
I'd gladly trade places with Robert.

BigRock
06-17-2012, 02:15 AM
Like JoPo, Babb tends to use the "columns that are split into sections with multiple line breaks" style, as opposed to one long uninterrupted piece. The line breaks didn't make the transfer here, so maybe that's why it seems jumbled.

Ace Gunner
06-17-2012, 05:49 AM
Oh no. Chaos.

(I believe that is the point in Babb's writing)


For a guy that has played the DL since high school, Poe doesn't have any of the showboat techniques Dorsey had coming up. That is a good thing imo. I think he is a smooth dude too, a "change by means of moderation" kind of personality which could indicate he appreciates life's finer details. Like rip moves and bull rushing.

Give the guy 4 years. By year four, Poe will become a pro bowler. That's my hunch. But like I said before, he's going to get clobbered the first season. The NFL is going to be too fast, too ferocious for Poe his first season. The staff will move him to DE a lot. Also, expect 43DL with Poe 3tek and Dorsey NT during obvious run downs.

bevischief
06-17-2012, 06:35 AM
Was this translated into English? WTF?

milkman
06-17-2012, 07:08 AM
Was this translated into English? WTF?

English translation.

Brother Bobby said "Do as I say, not as I do".

Dontari is the only kid to ever listen to that.

End of story.

mlyonsd
06-17-2012, 07:26 AM
Was this translated into English? WTF?It made my hair hurt.

bevischief
06-17-2012, 08:08 AM
I went cross eyed from reading this crap.

SNR
06-17-2012, 08:08 AM
Cassel sucks.

So does Babb's writing.

JASONSAUTO
06-17-2012, 09:12 AM
Oh no. Chaos.

(I believe that is the point in Babb's writing)


For a guy that has played the DL since high school, Poe doesn't have any of the showboat techniques Dorsey had coming up. That is a good thing imo. I think he is a smooth dude too, a "change by means of moderation" kind of personality which could indicate he appreciates life's finer details. Like rip moves and bull rushing.

Give the guy 4 years. By year four, Poe will become a pro bowler. That's my hunch. But like I said before, he's going to get clobbered the first season. The NFL is going to be too fast, too ferocious for Poe his first season. The staff will move him to DE a lot. Also, expect 43DL with Poe 3tek and Dorsey NT during obvious run downs. another idiot that can't understand that the team had said they want him to STAY AT NT ONLY.
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Frazod
06-17-2012, 09:15 AM
It made my hair hurt.

Mine too, and I'm bald.

SNR
06-17-2012, 09:19 AM
another idiot that can't understand that the team had said they want him to STAY AT NT ONLY.
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For awhile, at least. But I think eventually he'll play 5-technique, especially if someone like Powe develops into a pretty good 2-down NT. That's how the Ravens use Ngata. It allows them to fully take advantage of all the elite athleticism he has to offer at a position on the line where he can use those skills.

Not saying Poe is anything close to Ngata. Thus far in his football playing career Poe has precisely ZERO pass rush moves. He can't even do a decent bull rush yet. If Romeo is the defensive line sensei we all think he is, though, Poe might develop a nifty set of tricks, in which case we'd want him to play end like Ngata.

Kerberos
06-17-2012, 09:19 AM
Cassel sucks.

So does Babb's writing.

The Chiefs are Dooooooomed.

JASONSAUTO
06-17-2012, 09:34 AM
For awhile, at least. But I think eventually he'll play 5-technique, especially if someone like Powe develops into a pretty good 2-down NT. That's how the Ravens use Ngata. It allows them to fully take advantage of all the elite athleticism he has to offer at a position on the line where he can use those skills.

Not saying Poe is anything close to Ngata. Thus far in his football playing career Poe has precisely ZERO pass rush moves. He can't even do a decent bull rush yet. If Romeo is the defensive line sensei we all think he is, though, Poe might develop a nifty set of tricks, in which case we'd want him to play end like Ngata. I'm just going by what they have said and all indications from otas. I'm not going to guess that they will play him at the 5 when they have said they want him to learn one position.

And that idiot was talking about this year.
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scott free
06-17-2012, 09:56 AM
Yeah, this article is a jumbled mess & its surprising to me, character pieces/human interest stories are what Blabb does best imo.

But the messiness of it doesnt change the gist of it, that Poe is incredibly motivated to do well for his family & we so far havent heard a single thing thats puts the lie to that... the kids busting his butt & saying all of the right things.

Its very encouraging.

ChiefsCountry
06-17-2012, 09:57 AM
another idiot that can't understand that the team had said they want him to STAY AT NT ONLY.
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Im liking the new Sauto.
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Okie_Apparition
06-17-2012, 10:22 AM
I've become as numb to these stories
as news stories of murder, robbery & political stump speaches

Coogs
06-17-2012, 10:24 AM
For awhile, at least. But I think eventually he'll play 5-technique, especially if someone like Powe develops into a pretty good 2-down NT. That's how the Ravens use Ngata. It allows them to fully take advantage of all the elite athleticism he has to offer at a position on the line where he can use those skills.

Not saying Poe is anything close to Ngata. Thus far in his football playing career Poe has precisely ZERO pass rush moves. He can't even do a decent bull rush yet. If Romeo is the defensive line sensei we all think he is, though, Poe might develop a nifty set of tricks, in which case we'd want him to play end like Ngata.

Casey Hampton has 9 sacks in his career. Vince Wilfork has 13. If Poe can bring to the table for our team what those two do for their teams, then our defense could become something special as quick as this season.

And it will actually be the type of football I love to watch. Smashmouth/play action passing on offense with an ass kicking defense. My kind of football!

As far as the article goes, it appears Babb is trying to make Poe into the defensive version of Michael Oher growing up in Memphis. Let's just hope when Robert gets out of jail that he doesn't start to influence Dontari in a negative fashion.

Chiefshrink
06-17-2012, 11:37 AM
Let's hope the only destructive path Dontari takes is to the QB;)

Chiefshrink
06-17-2012, 11:42 AM
I've become as numb to these stories
as news stories of murder, robbery & political stump speaches


:thumb:

Micjones
06-17-2012, 12:12 PM
Let's just hope when Robert gets out of jail that he doesn't start to influence Dontari in a negative fashion.

The entire article is how Robert kept his brother out of trouble.
During his most impressionable years in abject poverty.

Why would he suddenly become a negative influence on a 22-year old man who has an real future in the NFL?

rockymtnchief
06-17-2012, 12:23 PM
Props to the single mom working 3 jobs to make ends meet.

Coogs
06-17-2012, 12:38 PM
The entire article is how Robert kept his brother out of trouble.
During his most impressionable years in abject poverty.

Why would he suddenly become a negative influence on a 22-year old man who has an real future in the NFL?

I understood the entire article. But, just sayin'. The company Robert keeps is definately different than what we hope Dontari keeps. Let's just hope Robert can leave his past behind hem when Dontari starts to take care of Robert.

Micjones
06-17-2012, 02:46 PM
I understood the entire article. But, just sayin'. The company Robert keeps is definately different than what we hope Dontari keeps. Let's just hope Robert can leave his past behind hem when Dontari starts to take care of Robert.

I honestly think Dontari will be the one doing the "saving" this time.