Jesse Bongiovi shouldn't give Notre Dame football a bad name.
Stepping out of the shadow of a famous father can be hard to do, but young Jesse seems to be doing quite well in distancing himself from being just "Jon Bon Jovi's son." The 18-year-old made the Fighting Irish football team this summer and was standing on the sideline for their 28-6 win over Temple.
Of course, any time a famous child gets any sort of break in life, it's because their famous parent(s) greased the right wheels to make it happen. Just ask Fox Sports' Ben Maller.
It's a valid concern, especially for anybody who watched Will Smith seemingly make After Earth just to make his son a movie star.
This isn't Hollywood, though. Brian Kelly is not in the business of giving handouts to famous sons because he doesn't want to be out of a job.
In fact, he went on record to emphatically say Jesse Bongiovi had gotten his spot on Notre Dame on merit alone, per For the Win's Dan Uthman:
Jesse has earned his spot on the 105. He’s a tough kid. The kids really like him. They respect him. They don’t look at him as a rockstar’s son. They look at him as a kid that loves Notre Dame and wants to play football and help this team. He’s had a good summer.
That's good to know, because this is the kind of thing that shouldn't become common in any college sport. Sure, you could argue it's harmless, and Bongiovi is only a walk-on. How much impact could he possibly have this season and at any point down the road?
Those are all good points.
The problem is, every single spot on that team should be earned, whether it's the starting quarterback or 105th man.
This is a school that prides itself on being home to one of the bigger underdog narratives in any sport, that of Rudy Ruettiger. Although many parts of his story seem to be romanticized, it doesn't change the fact that Ruettiger worked hard in practice to get on the team and was eventually able to step on the field.
Making the team in any capacity for a school of Notre Dame's caliber should be an honor. You're stepping on the same field and standing in the same locker rooms as the likes of Joe Montana, Johnny Lujack, Paul Hornung, Tim Brown, etc.
It's not something given out to increase awareness about the program and get talked about in entertainment circles.
Notre Dame is not a school that has to go fishing for attention. The Fighting Irish are one of the biggest names across the sporting landscape. Ask almost any sports fan about the school, and he or she will likely have a definite opinion, positive or negative. The team would be perfectly fine without having to rely on getting money from a famous rock star.
With what Kelly said, this seems to be more than a publicity stunt. If Bongiovi did well in practice and worked his way into the team, good for him. It would be easy for somebody like him to feel entitled and coast off of his father's success. Instead, he seems happy to start from the bottom and work his way up.
Now that's a story we can all get behind.