Tuesday morning, the NFL community lost a beloved figure when former Oakland Raiders linebacker Neiron Ball passed away at the age of 27. The cause of death was complications from brain arteriovenous malformation (AVM), which was a condition he had been battling for some time.
Despite only registering 94 tackles in college and playing very briefly with the Oakland Raiders, Ball certainly made an impact on fans of both teams. Following his passing, social media was filled with posts about certain moments from his career, as well as his overall outlook on life. This defender is one that was well-liked by those around him, and they wanted to honor his memory properly.
In fact, one of the biggest outcomes from this untimely passing is that the Gators fans are calling for the athletic department to honor Ball's memory any way possible. Whether it is a moment of silence before an upcoming game or special decals for the helmets, the fans simply want to prove to Ball's family that playing at the University of Florida makes you a Gator for life.
Similarly, the Oakland Raiders fans have fond memories of Ball and want to honor his memory if at all possible. Once a Raider, Always a Raider is the mantra of the team, and it certainly holds true in this instance. Ball only spent six games with the team, but he loved his time in the Bay Area and earned his spot as a member of the Raiders.
The Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders may be fierce rivals, but that doesn't mean that the fans of both teams can't put aside their differences when necessary. In fact, those that adore Patrick Mahomes and Big Red (Andy Reid) are feeling the heartache of Neiron Ball passing away. The AFC West is a big family, albeit a contentious one, and these teams don't want to see tragedy strike.
In peace you will rest prayers from the AFC West— Joe Gravino (@JoeGravino) September 10, 2019
Neiron Ball was no stranger to adversity during his life. He lost both of his parents prior to the age of 10, and he underwent brain surgery in 2011. Still, he continued fighting and enjoyed a successful career at the University of Florida before landing with the Oakland Raiders as a fifth-round pick in 2015. Ball's life was defined by battles, but now he will be resting.
He is resting peacefully now. Such a devastating thing. Prayers and thoughts are with his sisters, brothers and entire family. “Life”we take it for granted, while some are struggling and fighting just to get a chance daily. Puts things in prospective. Thanks for sharing. 🙏😢— Juka Ceesay (@jukacares) September 10, 2019
During his collegiate career, Ball was a beloved figure on the Florida Gators defense. Number 11 spent four seasons with the team and registered 94 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, and three sacks. Ball also forced a fumble during his senior season. These weren't eye-popping stats, but that doesn't mean that the Gators did not understand or appreciate the impact that Ball made during his time at The Swamp.
Our condolences to the family and friends of Neiron Ball. Great athlete and an even a better person. An extremely respectful man with a great attitude towards life. Rest In Peace 11. pic.twitter.com/rjU1E77cTk— GatorsEquipment (@GatorsEquipment) September 10, 2019
Fans of the Florida Gators were big supporters of Neiron Ball during his collegiate career and were devastated to learn of his passing at such a young age. Honoring his memory on Twitter with supportive messages to the family was the natural reaction to the news, but the Gator fans also want to know if there will be something else done in the coming weeks. Will the team honor Ball during upcoming games?
Tell me there will be a decal on the helmets?— Seth Jones (@sethjones17) September 10, 2019
A very common theme after news broke about Neiron Ball passing away was that sometimes, rivalries need to be pushed aside for the greater good. The Kansas City Chiefs fans showed this when they sent their condolences to the Oakland Raiders. Now, the college football fans are following suit. The SEC is a very fierce conference in the NCAA, and fans of the Gators, the Crimson Tide, the Volunteers, and the other heavy hitters despise each other. Still, that doesn't mean that the fans of these rival teams are happy to see tragedy strike. They want Ball's family to find peace.
Rivalries aside never wanna see a young person gone to soon. Prayers and condolences to his family, friends, and Gator fans!!!’— Demo81 (@blueandgold81) September 10, 2019
The Florida Gators fans love the members of their favorite team, and as such, they want to honor their memories in any possible way. With the game against Kentucky quickly approaching, they believe that the only fitting response to Ball's passing is to stick number 11 decals on the sides of the helmet and to have a moment of silence for the player and his family. They have even begun sending messages to the Gators athletic director, Scott Stricklin, in an effort to make this tribute a reality.
Decal on the players helmets and a moment if silence for him and his family saturday— Chelsie Hanna (@Chelsieg1) September 10, 2019
Former offensive tackle for the Florida Gators, Xavier Nixon, did not spend his entire collegiate career with Nieron Ball, but he certainly felt the impact nonetheless. Nixon responded to the news of his former teammate's passing by pointing out the very positive traits that Ball showcased every single day of his life.
Neiron Ball. Always smiling. Always happy. Always positive. Absolutely one of the best teammates and humans I was fortunate enough to be around. Thank you for being my friend and brother in that orange and blue. RIP brother!!! pic.twitter.com/vip5zzxGCs— Gator Made (@XavierNixon) September 10, 2019
The drama surrounding wide receiver Antonio Brown and his much-publicized departure from the Oakland Raiders led the majority of news cycles over the weekend. However, fans of the Silver and Black feel that too much is being made about a player that didn't actually want to be a member of the team. They would prefer if the media would actually focus on Ball, someone that loved playing in Oakland.
So much this week has been about someone who has no respect for anything or anyone. Meanwhile we lost someone who seemed to love being a Raider Rest in Power Neiron Ball. Always a Raider— Villain Raider (@grmraider) September 10, 2019
Vic Tafur is a Raiders beat writer for The Athletic and has spent much of the past summer discussing the drama surrounding Antonio Brown and his potential impact on the current Raiders. As it turns out, Tafur has experience with Neiron Ball after covering him during practice. Ball's battles with adversity are well documented, but Tafur's comment on social media makes it appear that the linebacker was not affected.
Former Raiders LB Neiron Ball always had a smile on his face. RIP— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) September 10, 2019
As someone that dealt with so much adversity throughout his life, it would be easy for Neiron Ball to feel sorry for himself and use the pain as a crutch. However, that certainly was not the case for the former Gators and Raiders defender. By all reports, he never once felt sorry for himself while succeeding in college and making his way to the NFL. Achieving both of these goals is one of the most difficult things on the planet to do, but Ball did both while battling adversity.
RIP Neiron Ball. Mom & dad fief before he was 10: While battling cancer, mom suffered a heart attack on Mother’s Day when he was six years old. When he was nine, dad diagnosed w/ lung cancer; passed away shortly after.— Fred From Plano (@FredFromPlano) September 10, 2019
Neiron never felt sorry for himself. Honor him.#GatorsAlways pic.twitter.com/LfkSgqQlFa