Jeremiah Short, Feature Columnist
America is in the midst of the “Social-Media” generation. There’s a lot of good and bad that comes with it.
The good: People are able to mobilize at an accelerated rate for the right cause. Donald Sterling lost his team, Ray Rice was suspended from the NFL and the Confederate Flag and its hateful history will soon be a distant memory.
The Bad: People can mobilize at an accelerated rate for the wrong cause. De’Andre Johnson, Florida State’s recently dismissed true freshmen quarterback, is suffering for the bad.
Social-Media coupled with the push to punish athletes for violent acts, particularly those against women, is the reason Johnson’s future sits in limbo.
Granted, Johnson hit a woman. No matter the circumstances…that’s WRONG. But what else is wrong is having a 19-year old’s entire life destroyed by one mistake.
Swift action was demanded by the Social-Media mob. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State’s head coach, gave it to them…releasing Johnson from his scholarship.
Fisher was in position to dismiss Johnson for two reasons, though.
1. He’s A Florida State QB: Not only was Johnson a Florida State football player but he played quarterback, which instantly painted him in a negative light when it came to this incident. Too many fans still have Jameis Winston’s sexual assault case on their minds. It just wasn’t a good look to allow Johnson to continue as a member of the team after two years of that drama.
2. He’s Expendable: While Johnson had a great spring practice, he was expendable. Deondre Francois, another true freshman quarterback, was actually rated higher and the Seminoles have a commitment from Malik Henry, a five-star 2016 quarterback.
Fisher took a commitment from Johnson in 2012. So, he obviously was high on him. But he wasn’t the set-it-stone future of the program at quarterback. Dalvin Cook’s arrest for battery makes Fisher look even smarter for getting rid of Johnson.
But was it the right move? I don’t think so.
If the video of the altercation is evaluated fairly, I think most would agree with me.
Sequence of Events
- Johnson tries to get into an open spot at the bar and brushes the shoulder of the alleged victim.
- Alleged Victim, according to Johnson and several witnesses, says get off me you f****** n*****.
- Johnson holds down her balled up right fist.
- They tussle.
- Alleged Victim punches Johnson with her left hand.
- Johnson punches alleged victim with straight right hand and quickly exits the bar.
Based off the series of events, it’s clear that the woman was the aggressor. From a contextual standpoint, that’s important.
Johnson reacted emotionally in a stressful situation. His reaction wasn’t the right one. But that’s what it was…a reaction. He’s not Ray McDonald, Ray Rice or Greg Hardy, who all fit the classic “woman beater” mold. He’s a kid that made a poor choice, not some violent miscreant.
In the court of public opinion, perception is far more important than reality, though. Second Judicial Circuits state attorney Willie Meggs deciding not to charge the woman and calling anyone who feels he should the “village idiot” doesn’t help with the negative perception of Johnson.
“A person’s entitled to use self-defense if they’re being battered by someone else, and she certainly was entitled to do what she did,” Meggs told the Florida Times-Union. “She didn’t commit a crime is the reason she’s not charged with a crime.”
Meggs reasoning to not charge woman in question is baffling and, to be frank–troubling. His refusal to charge the alleged victim only reinforces a double standard that men can’t hit women but women can hit men.
No one should hit anybody. And if you hit them first, you darn sure should be charged, too.
I understand the growing epidemic of athletes committing physical and sexual assaults–with Florida State athletes being some of the worst perpetrators. The New York Times even wrote a damning expose of their program and how they handle Seminole athlete’s issues off the field.
Florida State needs to clean up their football-first-and-screw-everything-else culture. It shouldn’t start with Johnson, though. His case should be judged on its own merit, not by the transgressions of others.
Where do we go from here?
There’s already a Change.org petition to get Johnson reinstated to Florida State’s football team. It’s a noble gesture. But I doubt it does anything but give Johnson some much needed positive pub.
Realistically, Johnson has two options. He either plays junior college football for a year or transfers to another Division One school.
It will be enticing to Johnson to get on the field as soon as possible. But his best option would be to transfer to another D1 program.
Other programs will take a wait-and-see approach before pursuing Johnson’s services. But he likely gets that second chance to redeem himself.
And he’ll deserve it.
Catch me on the “SportsKrib” on Wednesday’s 8-9 Central and Thursday’s 8-10 Central. Follow me on social media @DaRealJShort or check out my facebook page JShortJournalist or my Google Plus page J.Short- Journalist or follow me on Snapchat:JeremiahShort – See more at: http://www.locker-report.com/2015/06/25/what-is-racism/#sthash.c1mypASt.dpuf – See more at: http://www.locker-report.com/2015/07/07/the-myth-of-d-wades-greatness/#sthash.y3fw41dN.dpuf