By Alex Norman
Last week I dropped some serious knowledge on you good people with an article titled “Still Some Good Guys in Sports.”
This week I’m back with an article titled “Still Some Bad Guys in Sports.”
I’m nothing if not consistent…
Recently Urban Meyer made it a mission to find ways to absolve himself of any blame with regards to Aaron Hernandez.
Hernandez, a former Florida standout that left the Gators and was a fourth round draft pick of the New England Patriots in 2010, has been charged with murder.
No one in their right mind believes that Meyer holds responsibility for that alleged crime. But Meyer’s discipline record when it comes to the three years was Hernandez’s coach has been criticized. And I think it is a fair question to ask…
Had Meyer been more effective with Hernandez while he was in charge, could Hernandez’s life turned out differently?
Meyer might get the benefit of the doubt if he had a track record of being a disciplinarian. But the numbers prove that during his six years in Gainesville, Meyer was the ultimate “players coach.”
According to The New York Times, at least 31 Gators players were arrested when Meyer was at Florida (2005-2010). These weren’t just your every day “player gets caught stealing a candy bar” arrests. Running back Chris Rainey was arrested for threatening to kill his girlfriend. Safety Jamar Hornsby made fraudulent charges on a credit card of a woman that died in a motorcycle crash. Lineman Ronnie Wilson opened fire outside a nightclub with an AK-47. And many more.
Quarterback Tim Tebow did more than win football games. His personality helped distract fans and media from the numerous off the field issues of the Florida football program.
Meyer originally chose to ignore the criticism, or at least not to comment. He certainly would have been at least partially excused for not commenting about Hernandez while this case was being formed.
But he just couldn’t handle it.
Meyer chose reach out to The Columbus Dispatch. This isn’t a surprise considering that Meyer is now the head coach at Ohio State University.
“Prayers and thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim,” Meyer texted to the local paper. “Relating or blaming these serious charges to the University of Florida, myself or our staff is wrong and irresponsible…. I just received an email from a friend where there is an accusation of multiple failed drug tests by (Aaron) Hernandez covered up by University of Florida or the coaching staff. This is absolutely not true. Hernandez was held to the same drug testing policy as every other player.”
Hernandez himself told NFL teams that he had failed multiple drug tests.
Meyer also said in his correspondence with the paper that in terms of his brushes with the law, “Relatively speaking, he had very minor stuff.”
Seriously? Hernandez was questioned in a double shooting while in Gainesville. He also allegedly punched a restaurant employee so hard during an argument he broke the man’s ear drum.
Apparently at Florida this kind of thing is considered “minor.”
Despite all of these problems, Meyer’s suspension of Hernandez was for one game, the 2008 season opener against Hawaii. And even then Meyer wasn’t truthful, saying it was injury related instead of the real reason… for a failed drug test.
No college football program is without its faults, and rare is the college football coach that hasn’t had to deal with players of loose moral standing.
The question is… how do you deal with it?
It is obvious that while at Florida, Meyer dealt with his players with kid gloves. It paid off with wins, and two national championships. That’s something that even the great Steve Spurrier couldn’t do.
Urban Meyer isn’t to blame for what Aaron Hernandez became…
But when you read about Meyer’s history, and then read his responses to criticism, you can see why winning at all costs comes with a price…