De’Andre Johnson and the Spin Machine

Let me start out by being crystal clear in regard to my position on FSU releasing Freshman QB De’Andre Johnson.

Throwing the PunchThe first point is that in my opinion FSU did the right thing. I know that some die-hard fans are actually blaming the woman for getting punched in the face; some are suggesting that Johnson is taking the fall for the past sins of one Jameis Winston. Both arguments are as weak as the cheap beer on tap in a college bar.

The second point: you don’t hit women. I too have seen the video; several times. There were many responses that might have been appropriate, but punching the woman in the face was not one of them. Let me repeat this point: you don’t hit women.

The third point: I have many friends in public relations and many in the law. Virtually every story that has been released on this case, and every statement, has been put through the PR spin machine. The spin doctors should get out of this young man’s way and let him see what needs to be seen.

What has not been stated and what has not been examined is how a lack of sports ethics training led to this outcome. Diehard fans don’t want to hear it. Athletes and coaches may not want to hear it – but they should. University football programs must hear it.

I-do-not-wish-De’Andre Johnson anything bad. I do believe in second chances. I am hopeful that he is given another chance somewhere, but only after fully understanding the consequences of his actions and where these actions led. I don’t know if he will get a shot at the NFL. For now, he is parked on the sidelines along with Ray Rice and several other athletes who made poor choices.

To the woman: I don’t know if she was drunk (I wasn’t there). I don’t know if she used racial epithets (I wasn’t there). I don’t know if she was “physical.” (Give me a break, even if she was, what could she have done?).

Before we move on, and mention the young man’s name only once again in this post, I would have two questions of you diehards who want to blame the woman for getting punched:

  1. Would you have the same attitude if it was your daughter/sister/wife/girlfriend or mom?
  2. Do you believe that a D-1 player with De’Andre Johnson’s incredible talent playing for a school that is pre-season #21 (ESPN), is like every other freshman at the university?

The Candy Store

A 19 year-old athlete with gold-chip credentials is a celebrity on campuses such as FSU. He/she is not like everyone else. Is this wrong? The easy, politically-correct answer is: “Oh yes, it’s terrible. The kid who is the genius in cell physiology with the 165 IQ should be the one getting adulation.”

Newsflash: When the genius leaves the university, he or she will get showered with huge offers, scholarships and prizes, he or she will speak all over the world and will bask in the glory of science. For now, he or she will probably go to football games, get wasted from time to time, and cheer the school team onto victory.

The athlete, if he or she is lucky, gets a five year stint in professional sports after college graduation and then it is over. If luck really shines down, maybe he or she has 10 years and then they could become an analyst or a sideline reporter. If they invest wisely and treat their money wisely (there’s that ethics thing again), they might have a comfortable life. I will tell you now, the odds are usually against that because of unethical influences and poor choices (there’s that ethics thing again).

The 19 year-old athlete is a star but the window of opportunity is extremely narrow. The Candy store of social fun and games is overwhelming. It is Disneyland for young adult’s times one thousand. It can also be a trap so deep that there is no climbing out.

What may have helped

Solid and continuing ethical training should be required of all athletes. It should not be an option and it should not be dismissed. In this case, and in my opinion, a sports ethics program could have been a difference maker and a huge game changer.

The athlete could have been strengthened by a supportive ethical training program. Is it fool-proof? No, nothing in life is ever fool-proof. However, I have to believe that something might have taken over in a brief instance in the bar and said, “Get away from this fool. It can do me no good.”

Ultimately, it is far better to have advice that you need to hear rather than what you want to hear. When the lights are turned off and the crowds stop cheering, the “die-hard fans” and “spin doctors” will be long gone. Good ethics and good decisions will remain.










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