I guess you could write this column every day. Athlete does something stupid, gets caught, pays a penalty, claims he didn’t realize it was a mistake, apologizes and moves on. I guess that’s accepted in today’s world and even expected. But I think fans have had just about enough. I know they have here in Jacksonville.
Marcus Stroud isn’t a rookie and isn’t a stupid guy either, but his use of a substance that contained a banned element is stupid because that doesn’t have to happen.
“The resources are there,” Rashean Mathis told me last week. “Anything you have that you want to take, you can ask the doctors or the trainer or you can get something from them.”
What did Marcus take? Who knows! He’s not saying except to give it the tired, “Must have been something tainted in the supplement,” answer. So he lets down his teammates and everybody in the organization and won’t play for the next four weeks. That’s Tennessee and Indianapolis, both division games and San Diego and Buffalo, both conference games.
He’s out ¼ of his salary because of the suspension and will have the specter of cheating over his career for as long as it lasts. Maybe he was taking something for his ankle. Maybe he was trying to put on/lose weight. Whatever it was, it’s a stupid decision when it comes to being a professional athlete and the fans aren’t taking it so well.
People ask me every day, “Why, aren’t they smarter than that?” So what’s the answer? I’d like to say they are, but their actions seem to prove the contrary.
Justin Durant and Richard Collier were both arrested last Friday night after leaving a nightclub near Bay meadows and Rte. 1. Alcohol was involved in both cases begging the question, “Why not just get a ride home?” I’m sure anybody who’s been charged with DUI has said that to themselves, but you’d figure with the resources at the player’s disposal as far as money or free rides, it should make that decision easier.
I remember being 22 and bulletproof and invisible and I’ve driven plenty of times when I shouldn’t have been behind the wheel, but at the time I didn’t have the resources in front of me that the players do. Nor the standing in the community or the support of a bunch of teammates. I often wonder why Brittany Spears doesn’t have a driver either!
Anyway, the Jaguars are playing with the emotions of the fans with their off-field actions and how they got beat by New Orleans. The rumors about the number of players at that nightclub in Baymeadows have spread around town and chip away at the credibility of the team and the players.
People really want to believe in professional athletes who represent their town, but they’re now to the point where bad behavior is kind of expected. Expected but not tolerated. The league and the Jaguars realize this and have taken the first steps to trying to fix that.
Wayne Weaver said he was “disgusted” with the players’ lack of discipline and knowing Wayne, he won’t put up with it. But who are the team “enforcers” on the Jaguars? Which guys in the locker room are the ones the other players are accountable to?
Jack Del Rio and James Harris have gotten rid of the middle year veteran players, perhaps because of money and the salary cap but it seems that those players are the ones who set the tone. Look at New England. The Patriots have a bunch of guys who don’t put up with anything and even said so when Randy Moss was on the horizon. That’s where the personal responsibility and accountability come into play. I don’t think it’s a goose that can lay golden eggs forever.
If the league and the Jaguars don’t get a firm handle on it, they’ll be fewer people watching on television and in person no matter how many blackouts there are.