The arrest and subsequent dismissal of former Tide defensive lineman Jonathan Taylor following his 2nd domestic abuse charge overnight has left many critics of Nick Saban and the Bama football program hungry for social media zingers and chit chat board one liners. Whenever a program takes a risk on a player whose actions place him on the wrong side of the law, that program becomes an easy target for such Internet fodder. And rightfully so.
For instance, Auburn’s last two starting quarterbacks were dismissed from their respective schools (Florida and Georgia) for similar thuggery, and Bama fans had fun with it. Nick Marshall went on to get a citation for possession of weed, yet was permitted to commandeer the Tigers to their 2014 campaign.
Several undeniable factors come into play when stories like Taylor’s come into the light. First and foremost, most fans have an unhealthy preoccupation with college athletics…their team in particular, followed closely by their rivals. So when a misstep happens, rushing to conclusions (and Twitter) is just too easy. But nobody can blame them. When the only way you can beat your rival is when God intervenes, the game of perception is all you have.
Critics will always say, predictably, that a stellar athlete shouldn’t get a second chance when their school is on the wrong end of the decision. But those same fans would be strangely silent had Taylor chosen their school and recorded three sacks and a fumble recovery in the Iron Bowl.
The 335lb. gorilla in the room is that there is a young man in Tuscaloosa who has a problem at best, and is a potential threat to society at worst. People will always question whether or not a second chance is in order, and in some cases people make good on their opportunities and turn their lives around. But when they can’t learn, it’s time to do the right thing, which is what the University of Alabama did in dismissing Taylor hours after his arrest.
The University released a statement saying Taylor was issued a zero tolerance policy regarding future infractions. If the facts are what they’ve been presented to be, Taylor will now get what he deserved.
But had he turned the corner and made good on the risk Alabama had taken on him, the argument can be made that he would have also gotten what he deserved. After all, we’ve all been young and made mistakes, and for many of us, thank God there was someone there to lead us to the right path. That’s what leadership is for.
Taylor apparently didn’t want to be led, so after just five practices in a Crimson uniform, the Jonathan Taylor experiment is over. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be future experiments, at Alabama and elsewhere. And when there is, the predictable, lazy assumptions will be made. Depending on where that player goes, of course.