Drunks and Punches at FSU

Last month, FSU running back Dalvin Cook was arrested on charges that he (allegedly) repeatedly punched a woman outside of a bar in Tallahassee, Florida. The release of this story came within days of fourth-string FSU quarterback De’Andre Johnson being suspended by the team for punching a woman inside another bar in Tallahassee, Florida.

Dalvin CookI will concede upfront that I agree with what Cook’s lawyers are telling us. The two cases are different. One case was clear-cut (Johnson’s) and one case is a “he-said, she said.” In Cook’s case, his accuser was inebriated and allegedly could not positively identify him. Before going any further, I cannot say that Cook is a poster child for goodness and virtue while Johnson is a bum. Dalvin Cook was charged with a misdemeanor in 2014 for abusing three puppies by tying them together with a heavy chain and in the same year he was involved with shooting up someone’s property with a BB gun. Cook’s lawyer (in regard to the animal incident) said we shouldn’t turn the young man into a Michael Vick. I am not; I am turning him into another athlete who has not been given enough ethics training.

The Push-back

Articles, talk-radio conversations and even recent comments by Buffalo Bills draft pick (ex-FSU) Ronald Darby came to De’Andre’s defense. The defense was completely expected. The sum of the comments was that the woman had some blame in this; that she was getting ready to give him a beat-down or some such nonsense.

Men and women do stupid things when they’ve been drinking and especially when they’re young. Yes, I saw the De’Andre Johnson video a dozen times. It always turns out the same. She puts up her hands and he throws a right and just about knocks her out. She checks her teeth to make sure they’re all there. He works out 100 hours a day and she does whatever she does. My point is that the confrontation was like two drunken soldiers with slingshots from the Latvian National Guard taking on Seal Team 6 with air support. He should not have put himself in that position and the team should have given him ethics training as well.

I feel “badly” for Jimbo Fisher. Months before the season starts and he’s dealing with young athletes who are making stupid choices. He’s losing good players. Almost as bad, he is having to contend with fans and ex-players who are angry at him for doing what he needed to do. In addition, even if Dalvin Cook is completely innocent, the atmosphere that has been hovering over FSU’s football program is so charged right now, that any suspicious or negative behavior is going to result in swift action. It will be guilt by association. I agree with Fisher as well when he says that the majority of his athletes are decent kids. Yes, but so what? It doesn’t take an entire team to mess up a program.

Jimbo Fisher also doesn’t need me to say this but I will anyway. FSU is not the only campus where student athletes are making idiotic choices this pre-season. There is little or no meaningful sports ethics teaching on most campuses, and very few voices that are instructing athletes that their bad choices will lead them to negative consequences.

I am sure that FSU has an entire staff of consultants, trainers, psychologists and recycled HR people who stand at podiums or pound the table and plead with the athletes to mend their ways. I don’t plead, I don’t read from a textbook and I sure as heck don’t show them idiotic HR training videos. I give them real life. I give them the benefit of years of talking thousands of people out of making bone-headed mistakes. Many years ago I made some bad choices for myself as well; I am no saint either. I pulled myself out, but not before I experienced what bad choices could do.

For a D-1 athlete playing for a consensus pre-season top 25 team, the windows of opportunity are incredibly narrow. This is most certainly true for those wanting to go professional. One bad mistake can shut that career window forever.

 

Chuck Gallagher, President, Sports Ethics, LLC

(828) 244-1400

www.Sportsethics.com

 

 

 

 

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