This past week, the current Heisman Trophy winner (football’s best player last season) was seen and heard outside on campus shouting obscenities related to a woman’s anatomy.  This was well documented, as most shocking events are, and he was suspended for the first half of the next football game.

A half game suspension.  You might need him the second half.  Football matters.

There is a code of student conduct at this university, and the spokesman assured the media they would investigate to see if the player’s behavior required greater sanctions.

It did.  Two days prior to the game, the player was suspended for the whole game.  Wow. The coach’s name was not part of the signatures on the suspension document, and he had no comment, the significance of such not clear.

The press reported more:

  • At the news conference following the incident, the player said, “I have to tone it down.”  TONE IT DOWN?  To what?  Using proper medical terms?  This is a man in the public eye; a downside of which is having to control one’s speech and behavior better than the rest of us. If I swear loudly in public, I am told to shut up.  If I continue, I get arrested.  I won’t make the news.  This person is one of the best football players in the country, a role model, yet he feels that outrageous, obscene behavior in public needs only to be “toned down”?
  • While playing baseball for the same university, he was suspended 3 games plus community service after stealing $32.72 of crab legs.  This is theft.  Does the university have sanctions about students who steal?  I noted he didn’t steal a textbook.
  • A student complained he assaulted her in 2012.  The state attorney declined to pursue the case, which is not necessarily wrong.  The location, type, and evidence of the assault may or may not be easily prosecuted, and if you were that woman, would you take on a famous football player in court?  It would require immense courage. The university is reported to be still investigating.  Two years later?  Why the delay?  Until the end of football season?
  • He is under investigation for another 2012 incident where he broke 13 windows in a “BB gun battle”.   How long does it take to decide innocence or guilt and bring justice?  Admittedly, my medical background biases me, because I didn’t have two years to figure out what was wrong with a patient.  Sometimes, I had only two minutes.
  • He was held at gunpoint by campus police for shooting squirrels on campus.  The year wasn’t mentioned, but this behavior is not only sociopathic (shooting squirrels on campus is not equal to hunting deer), but animal abuse, which correlates highly with sociopathy and human abuse, bringing me back to his comments about and behavior towards women.  There is a short step between screaming obscenities and assaulting women. Oh, he did allegedly assault a woman, so that step was likely taken, unless the university finally finishes their investigation.  When does he go from abuse of women, BB gun fights, and shooting squirrels to shooting people?  How much warning does the university need to conclude this man is trouble?
  • A Burger King employee called police because the player stole soda. The media did not mention what happened, but I suspect a minimum wage working person’s comment against a Heisman Trophy winner’s behavior was not going to carry much weight.  Crab legs are more expensive than soda, but theft is theft.
  • The university in question was becoming “less tolerant” towards this person’s behavior.  That is encouraging to know:  apparently in this southern state, there are limits: assault, shooting animals, a BB gun fight, theft on two occasions, breaking windows, and screaming obscenities is enough to decrease tolerance.  My mother’s tolerance for my behavior was making me pay and apologize for stealing a 3 cent fireball when I was 8 and washing my mouth out with soap when I swore.  Yeah, nearly 60 years later, I still remember that.

The student-athlete, since that is what the NCAA calls him, was suspended for one game.  The concern has been raised that such behavior will affect his professional career in football.  Wow.  He’s a sociopath with access to firearms.  My concern is that he will some day injure and perhaps kill a woman, a minimum wage worker, companion animals or have his name on another US shooting rampage, and everybody will wonder how this could have happened.  I won’t. I will know that the university considered football; money from it and alumni donors were more important than dealing with an armed sociopath, and I say that term as a 1982 diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

As a neurologist, I have issues with football:  it damages the brain, but people love the game.  There is a tremendous amount of money involved, none goes to the “student athletes” or to scholarships, other than athletic ones.   Far too many alumni still have their lives revolve around the team’s record.  It was sad in Friday Night Lights that many who played high school football felt that was the high point in their lives.

I believe compensation for football-related brain injuries was overdue, if not overdone.  However, I believe if the game is not changed, those who now play it are voluntarily choosing to do something dangerous. I don’t feel I should be taxed to pay for their medical care, should it be related to multiple concussions. Let the NFL, the highly paid players, or the coaches pay.

I admit it: I believe those who make millions playing with a ball should be taxed at a higher rate than the rest of us. I am not jealous.  I live comfortably on far less.  I don’t believe “He who dies with the most toys wins.”  I believe my retirement should be spent volunteering in my community.  America is the land of opportunity, not outright greed and outrageous behavior by stars and willingness by many to buy their apparel, pay big bucks to see games, pay coaches in the glory sports 6,7, or 8 figures, yet pay assistant coaches in other sports (track and field, for example) $20-$40 K.

Let the market decide?  NO.  The markets have not been shown to self-regulate, any more than physicians or any other group.  If we self-regulated ourselves, there would be no litter on the roads, limitation on campaign donations, and those who pass on the right and cut in front of you, when the right lane is closed ahead, would not exist.  You have seen them, I’m sure.

America is the land of opportunity, not unbridled greed or uncontrollable behavior.  It is an opportunity for the university to stand up for what is right, regardless of the cost. Justice for all?  Yes, for those who were harmed by the player’s words and actions, and for those who will be spared harm by removing him from the society until or unless he shows his remorse through appropriate actions.

You see, I don’t listen to what people say.  I watch their feet.

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