As certain athletes are vilified in the press for their behavior, and the public is repulsed by the "entitled" attitude perceived from many athletes; we wonder who is responsible?
Certainly, these guys don't arrive to the NFL as humble, well-behaved individuals, only to allow the fame and fortune to go to their heads and develop a feeling of entitlement. Forgetting that they have a responsibility to themselves and to their teams.
That entitlement and feeling of a right to special treatment has to be fostered somewhere along the way.
And it is: In college, at the institutions that are supposed to be providing these young men with educations and helping them expand their world view.
West Virginia's Rich Rodriguez, who has dismissed criticism of his program based on the behavior of former Mountaineers Adam "Pac-Man" Jones and Chris Henry, supports the NFL's new policy and believes it will have a positive effect. "It is ridiculous people are still calling us about a couple of guys who we have no control over," Rodriguez said. "I mean, are people calling USC to ask about O.J. Simpson? How can you blame us for guys who we haven't talked with in years?
We may be wrong, but didn't Pacman have a misunderstanding or two while at WVU? And didn't WVU essentially do nothing about?
Certainly, despite Mr. Rodriguez desire to wash his hands of Pacman because he is no longer a member of the football team at WVU, one can't help but feel that the environment of that team played a key role in the development of Pacman Jones. Is it even arguable that Pacman's sense of self and the attitude of entitlement was stoked in that environment? That is was a learned behavior? That, moving forward with that learned behavior and adding millions of dollars to the equation may have been just the very formula that has led to the situation in which Mr. Jones now finds himself?
Mr. Rodriguez can dismiss the criticism to his heart's content, but he can't escape the effect he and his program had on Mr. Jones. Nor can he escape the fact that his program, as an extension of the university, failed to provide Mr. Jones with the type of education and self awareness experience necessary for Mr. Jones to move into the workforce and society equipped with the tools to succeed.
The gratuitous and completely irrelevant mention of OJ Simpson further fingers Mr. Rodriguez as either being oblivious or completely unconcerned with his own (and the university at which he is employed) responsibility in this. To compare a player that had issues at WVU and was coddled along so he could stay on the field, with a man who was charged with murdering his wife 30 years after a college career without incident is a most heinous juxtaposition.
The only commonality between Pacman and OJ...that neither has been convicted (as yet).
We hear the media and some fans say that players like Jones must be held accountable. That personal responsibility is what these athletes lack.
Well, if the institutions and individuals that unleash these athletes into the NFL prefer to "dismiss criticism", rather than acknowledge the role they played in the personal development of the athletes; how can we even expect the athletes to have any concept of personal responsibility?
We recruit quality kids who are quality students and we go to great lengths to make sure those are the kind of players we recruit and we've had very few problems. "There are bad apples but not nearly as many as some people would have you believe."
This, from the man who is bringing linebacker Pat Lazaar to WVU. Lazaar pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit armed robbery for his role in a robbery of a store and was sentenced to 10 days in jail and a 10-year suspended sentence and three years probation. And previously received 90 days of court supervision for using a stolen credit card to purchase $130 sneakers.
So next time you see a young athlete acting with an air of entitlement and a lack of personal responsibility, consider where he learned the behavior.
Rodriguez should receive the same suspension Pacman has.