Thursday, September 9, 2010

About AJ...and his jersey

Am I mad at the NCAAs ruling? Yes. Does it jive with Marcel Dareus' two games? No. But this is about one person, Adriel Jeremiah Green. My surprise at the ruling yesterday doesn't come close to the depths of my disappointment in AJ.

We thought we knew him. He's the kid that not only makes plays, but then carries himself just as gracefully when he returns to Planet Earth. He's as humble off the field as he is talented on it. But he turned his back on his teammates. He took a calculated risk knowing his coaches trusted his judgment; the same coaches and staff who undoubtedly had warned him of the NCAAs rules. He got caught. And now those players must go on without their 1st string All-SEC wide receiver. Those coaches must gameplan without their greatest weapon.

The fans...? Most are lashing out against the NCAA. Again, I get that. They've made themselves an easy target. As PWD pointed out using Clay Travis' twitter feed, a felony counts as less punishment than something that is legal. But AJ knew the rules. He risked it anyway. He lost. The talented receiver who catches everything thrown his way was caught himself.

We've all made mistakes. God knows I've made plenty. And I've never had mine so publicly played out for the world to digest. But AJs no victim here. I don't feel sorry for him. It was AJ who decided that a few hundred bucks was more important than playing college football. At some point he decided he would defy the rules, and turn his back on the coach who's been there for him for nearly a decade.

Can we win games without AJ Green? Absolutely. We will, in fact. Can we forgive AJ? Certainly, he's still a Dawg. But that doesn't mean he's the one who's been wronged. My point is simply, he's the one who was.


Berryfine said...

Great points Bernie! My biggest complaint with this whole thing has to be the fan response. It varies from lashing out at the NCAA without knowing all the facts to saying we should fire our coach and scrub all the players and start over. The "I'm embarrassed to be a DAWG" commentary really gets me going as well.

I did a lot of dumb things between the ages of 18-22 (and even now a mere 4 years later) and I would hate to think that my family and friends would give up on me as easily as some fans want to give up on AJ. Yes, he made a mistake. Yes, he should be punished. But let's give him a chance to redeem himself afterwards. In my humble opinion, it's not the mistakes that make the man; it's how he conducts himself afterwards and what he learns from it that makes him a man.

JenniferfromLaJolla said...

I agree with what you've written. A.J. knew what he was doing. And as Hamp noted, "The juice wasn't worth the squeeze." When it comes to rule breaking--it rarely is. This is different from making an impulsive, or impared decision (such as hit and run, or driving under the influence) this decision was thought out, was deliberate. A.J. will be forgiven and will have his chance to once again shine, but he also will have a mark on what was a pristine reputation. Consequences, consequences...

Ollllddude said...

I feel compelled to weigh in on some of this, because normally I agree completely with almost everything Bernie posts. And mostly, I agree with him this time - AJ shouldn't have sold the jersey - but the logic seems to be limited to the fact that it is a rule and he should abide by the rule. While true, the fact is also that some rules are stupid, and need to be changed and it is also true that they won't be changed as long as everyone simply follows them.

Now, I doubt that AJ said to himself "This is a dumb rule, I should violate it and work to get it changed" as Herschel might have when he left early, or as Curt Flood might have when he declared himself a free agent, but in each case nothing would have happened without a player breaking a rule.

What makes this so egregious to the NCAA? I don't think it is simply the sale of the jersey. I think it is the sale of the jersey to someone who fits the double secret probation definition of an agent in the NCAA's eyes. Time scale-wise, this grew out of a bigger NCAA investigation into agents throwing parties in Miami for certain prospects which remains ongoing. I don't think it it going too far out on a limb to say that the agents are what the NCAA is concerned about. They have a problem, because they have no control over agents. None. They have some control over schools and athletes, but they also know that most athletes, while grateful for college degrees, also hope to play professionally. Certainly, the star players have that hope. Having players go pro is good for the NCAA because it generates interest in games, teams and the overall product from which the NCAA and member schools derive lots of cash. So, in the end, The NCAA cuts its nose off in spite of its face when it dilutes the product that it relies upon for money. They do that in the name of preserving an amateurism ideal that is more of an ideal than it is a fact. And they are failing miserably in controlling the problem of agents.

The NCAA needs a new tack. One idea might be to allow contact with agents but to regulate it. Our legal system usually supports regulation as being good for fair trade. It does not support absolute bans. Allowing agent contact under reasonable regulation is probably something that actual lawmakers (Congress, state legislatures) could and would support. And it is probably possible to enforce something like that. Ultimately, something will happen to change things: either the NCAA will wither and die because it would not change, or it will change. If it changes, we'll look back on the AJ suspension and say "Man, he (and his team) got screwed, no way that penalty would be handed out today."

Bernie said...

Thanks y'all for the comments. This was a difficult one to post.

@Ollllddude I agree with your assessment of the complete ineptness of the NCAA to deal with this and many other things. But my focus here was simply on one player. Yes, it's a dumb rule. But there's no doubt that AJ knowingly crossed that line and in so doing damaged his team, his own reputation and the reputation of the very school that has afforded him his opportunity to advance his education and ultimately his career.

Hell, UGA is the reason this rule is in place in the first place thanks to RingGate. I love AJ cuz he's a Dawg. Always will. But I just don't get the attitude of some who are painting him as a victim.

And to AJs credit, from his official statement (and his tweets since yesterday) he is taking responsibility, at least publicly. Unfortunately, some fans are too willing to ignore his actions. Regardless of how unfair the rule is, it's still a rule he broke.