COLUMN: Players' youth should be considered before judgement
With the suspension of LSU’s junior cornerback Tyrann Mathieu last week, college football lost its most polarizing figure.
The Tigers are now without the “Honey Badger,” a Heisman Trophy finalist, a Bednarik Award-winner and one of the most electric players in the game.
But there are greater issues at hand than LSU’s waning national title chances.
On Aug. 10, Mathieu was dismissed from the team for the 2012 season after allegedly testing positive for marijuana on multiple drug tests.
Since then, he has checked into The Right Step drug rehabilitation center in Houston.
With Mathieu’s future uncertain and transfer rumor’s abound, Mathieu’s uncle and adoptive father, Tyrone Mathieu, told ESPN that Tyrann’s college football career is not a priority right now.
It’s about time.
Too often, the ignorance of youth has cost many a promising player. Careers have been ended tragically before they could start.
I say, tragically, in spite of the belief that most college athletes who use drugs recreationally or otherwise are selfish, ignorant individuals who choose getting high over their future.
But let’s be real.
They’re just kids. They’re 18 to 21 year olds with their whole lives ahead of them and not a care in the world.
Honestly, how many college kids have the foresight to realize the impact their decisions will have on their lives 10-20 years down the road?
Hell, how many even think past the current calendar week? I daresay a handful at best.
Ignorant? Yes. But selfish? Hardly.
What’s selfish about throwing away a free education and a lucrative future in athletics? About refusing second chance after second chance for failure to recognize one’s own vulnerability?
When you’re a college kid, you think you’re invincible and the police aren’t real. You’re on top of the world and nothing bad can happen to you.
But reality is waiting at every corner, ready to knock you off your pedestal and welcome you, harshly, back to the real world.
Ask Hunter Wall. Ask Lawrence Dampeer. Brent Rawls. Rhett Bomar. Joshua Jarboe. Kameel Jackson.
All young talents with bright futures ahead of them. All failed to take advantage of the tremendous opportunity they had in front of them. The list goes on and on.
Should you feel sorry for the Tyrann Mathieus of the world?
No. I don’t.
They made their bed; now they have to lie in it. That’s life.
But next time you judge a college kid for a decision he or she made, just think, how many sound decisions did you make at 20 years old?
Dillon Phillips is a journalism junior and assistant sports editor for The Daily. You can follow him on Twitter at @DillonPhillips_.