A day after the football season began for the University of Oregon, it ended for star running back LeGarrette Blount.
If you missed it, after the Ducks got beat by Boise St in the season opener, Blount dished a right hook to Boise St player, Bryan Hout, after Hout spat some trash talking Blounts way. Coaches had to essentially drag Blount off the field, where he even tried to go after some fans in his uncontrollable rage. As a native Oregonian, I was certainly embarrassed and ashamed of Blounts behavior… it was absurdly uncalled for.
- Blount dealing a blunt blow
The next day, first year coach Chip Kelly announced that Blount was suspended for the rest of the football season. This was quite a shock to most people who believed the punishment was too severe.
I think I was in the minority. I liked the sentence. I felt the actions were severe enough to warrant a no non-sense consequence. Some people fall victim to the “make-an-example-out-of-’em” situation, and this might have been one of them, but I still felt it was a good decision.
Notice I said “good” decision, not “right” decision. I don’t think there was a right or wrong decision in this, or other like, situations. There are so many factors that play in to scenarios like this, and we the public are only privy to a small sliver. I feel it’s a little naive to think there is a “right” or “wrong” way to handle this, as though it’s a simple math formula you can just work out.
And now, Chip Kelly has come out and announced that they’re working on a plan that might allow Blount to be reinstated the first of November for the final 4 games of the season.
And again, I think I’m in the minority because I think that this too is also a “good” decision. And again, I think we do a disservice to the story and the people involved by assuming there is a “right and wrong” way to handle this. Rather maybe we should think in terms of good, better, best, and bad, worse, worse still.
I like the fact that originally they came out and said, “look, you screwed up… bad. And as such, you’re done. You can practice with us, but you will not play with us. Focus on your studies and hope that some pro team might gamble on you in the draft.” And now, as time has progressed, they have had a chance to process it further and treat it as a dynamic scenario rather than a static one. Blout has made many apologies, and has tried his best to make things right (all within the context of it not really mattering, because he was done for the season. It wasn’t like he was trying to get off early for good behavior. As far as he was concerned it didn’t matter what he did. And yet, he chose to be remorseful and commit to change.) I think that the University of Oregon was able to assess Blount’s behavior, and assess their original decision, and come to a point where they can say, “hey, you know what? Maybe he does deserve a second chance. Maybe the whole season was a bit extreme. Let’s talk about this.” And that, I think, is a “good” thing.
I’m not worried at all about it “sending a wrong message” to athletes from UofO. In fact, I think if anything it could send a good message: we’re not incapable of changing our minds if you demonstrate remorse and work towards change.
One could argue that a “better” thing would have been for Oregon to suspend him indefinitely. That way they could move forward with several options open. But even then I might take issue…
I liken it to disciplining a child. Sometimes you might say to your son, “you are grounded. What you did was wrong, and now you’re grounded.” “For how long?” your son might ask. “Forever.” (Obviously your being hyperbolic, so maybe the metaphor breaks down at this point). Now, maybe, just maybe, if you tell him, “for two weeks,” he just sorta sits back and waits… figuring, “allright, it’s only two weeks, no big deal. I don’t REALLY need to be remorseful or work towards change.” And I think that might have been the case with Blount. If they would’ve just said he’s suspended for 3 games, where’s the motivation to change, to work towards being a healthier person who makes better choices?
All this to say, I think that Oregon’s initial punishment was good, and I also think it’s very good that they may create conditions by which he could be reinstated. I applaud both decisions.
What do you think? Was the initial suspension good or bad? And what about the new decision to possibly let him come back for the final 4 games?