Perhaps the best player on either side of the football last season for Tennessee was Rashaan Gaulden. The 6-1 nickel was the spark-plug for a defensive unit that wasn’t all that bad at times — barring a couple of games.
Gaulden opted to enter the NFL Draft early and is a likely day two selection, but people are still talking about his now infamous middle-finger salute to the Alabama crowd in Tuscaloosa. Gaulden followed Daniel Bituli into the endzone after a pick six was thrown by Tua Tagovailoa.
He then proceeded to give ‘Bama fans the finger, despite being in the middle of a hopeless blowout. Of course this was brought up when Gaulden spoke to the media at Tennessee’s pro day.
Former Tennessee DB Rashaan Gaulden on hand gesture he gave to Alabama fans last season: "I'm a passionate guy when I step on the field. And I hate Alabama."— Noah Taylor (@Noah_TaylorDB) March 19, 2018
“I hate Alabama. That’s just the way it is,” Gaulden told the media.
Gaulden immediately owned up to the gesture and apologized after the game, but it’s hard to place too much blame on the kid. He was in the middle of the worst season of Tennessee football ever, literally. His team was getting taken apart by Alabama. His emotions got the better of him, sure, but I can hardly blame the guy for taking a brief moment to let out some frustrations.
He went on to say that he hopes that he won’t be remembered solely for the gesture alone, saying that he made plenty of plays. He was absolutely one of the best players from a dreadful team, but it’s going to be hard to separate his name from that that image in our head.