(Opinion) Damn, bro. What’s good? I hope this letter finds you in a peaceful state of mind, though that wish is something of a wisp considering your current circumstances. A top-flight NFL prospect, Heisman trophy-winning quarterback on the current No. 2 ranked Florida State Seminoles football team, your Cheshire Cat grin has proliferated the television sports news networks ever since your first year at that vaunted powerhouse in Tallahassee. A handsome kid by any measure and the epitome of the term ‘Young, Gifted and Black”.
The world is laid out for you.
This is why it pains me to see the allegations that are constantly levied against you on a seemingly consistent basis every month. This is not an accusatory letter or one of admonishment by any stretch; however, one cannot imagine how an individual who, accused of the things that you have been accused of, continues to make the same mistakes over and over again.
First, there were the accusations of sexual assault levied against you in 2013. Though no charges were filed, the controversial shockwave that ensued is still reverberating throughout the ACC and you’re still dealing with that unfortunate affair as Florida State ramps up to defend itself against a Title IX investigation into whether any rules were broken on your part. Worse case scenario could see you expelled. That affair was followed by the sad, yet comical, crab heist at Publix back in April. Then there was the puerile stunt in which you stood on top of a table in a crowded cafeteria and yelled out an Internet inspired, obscenity-laced sentence last month. Now you find yourself tied up in yet another affair that shines a negative light on FSU and all of bigtime college football. Like former Heisman Trophy winner and current Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, your name has been tied to over 300 authenticated autographs on footballs, baseballs and other memorabilia.
To reiterate, this is not a letter meant to besmirch your morality. As it stands, law enforcement has exonerated you for the serious charge of sexual assault. While there are some questions regarding the effectiveness of the investigation fielded by the Tallahassee police department, the bottom line is that you were cleared. Legally, there’s no such thing as double jeopardy, so that’s really blowing in the wind as far as you’re concerned. The crab incident? Well, I cannot believe that you would be so dense as to walk out of a supermarket with a bucket of crabs without being assured by someone at that store that it was okay for you to do so. I just refuse to believe that a Heisman trophy-winning quarterback on a national championship team would do such a thing in broad daylight, risking being videotaped by security cameras, unless someone in that supermarket told him it was okay for him to do so. I believe that was just a “hook up” gone wrong.
Truth is that when you’re a celebrity, public opinion can flow in your favor and can flow against you as well. Last week, University of Georgia running back Todd Gurley was suspended indefinitely by UGA due to NCAA violations that pertain to Gurley allegedly signing autographs for cash. Additionally, the company that he is alleged to have taken money from is the very same company you are alleged to have been dealing with. Personally I believe the NCAA is one of the biggest scams in the history of the United States and that its insistence upon denying players from making money off their own images while it is allowed to do so is a travesty. However, in light of your prior circumstances, one would have thought you would be smart enough to keep a low profile.
The NFL draft is within reach and you’re still considered a first round lock, despite the fact that draft prognosticators like ESPN’s Mel Kiper lowered you on his vaunted Big Board. A big payday is in the very near future. NFL scouts are watching and, despite your talents, are looking for reasons NOT to draft you more than they’re looking for reasons to do so. Why not just chill out and play football?
Okay, we get it. You’re a college student who is having a good time. The litany of absolutely asinine things that I did in college might result in some kind of criminal charges being filed against me more than 20 years after the fact. However, I’m not a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback looking to take his team to a second National Championship.
Now you’ve got people doubting both your mental stability and your moral standing. As a Black man, I know that the ultimate insult is for someone to doubt your home training because, in essence, they’re dissing your parent’s ability to raise a child. It goes without saying that all sorts of former FSU players turned NFL greats have been blowing up your phone, email and Twitter accounts ever since all of these non-sensical circumstances have come to light, and, so far, it doesn’t seem like you’ve listened to them in the least bit.
If you get to read this letter, you will likely show great consternation that some distant, keyboard-bound scrub would dare weigh in on your situation, and I would understand that consternation. However, this is less about your playing career and more about fear. Fear that the whole world is going to see another brother throw away something that could make his legacy eternal for short term stupidity. Don't fall prey to that which will drag you down. Lead off the field as you lead on it.
Stay easy, young man.