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The Jimmy Johns situation is bad on so may fronts that it’s hard to get a hold of and the least of these is the end result of football games. Shock is probably the best word to describe what the feelings are right now; I just don’t believe that this has happened. It’s just so bad on so many levels. A good bit of the day yesterday was spent reading as information became available, reading comments and the inevitable shots and attempts at humor on other sites and blogs, and listening to sports talk radio which I rarely do. When information overload was reached I went and hit some golf balls at the range and took my wife out to dinner where we discussed, you guessed it, the Jimmy John situation. After a little time away from it I’ve been able to collect my thoughts. Here they are:
I feel bad for Jimmy. He has screwed his life up and not to say that he can never overcome and be a responsible citizen one day but his road to doing that is much tougher. I played golf last week with a former player who was in town for the Bridge Builders Golf Tournament. This guy had it all together. He had played ball and then gone on to get a graduate degree and is a, seemingly, successful businessman now. He had is life together and was here to support a good cause and offer advice and guidance to other young people and on top of that he was a lot of fun to be around. I admire that. Then to see someone with so much talent waste so much of his life. For lack of a better word it’s just sad.
I place blame solely on Jimmy Johns. It is easy to see where Saban might have had clues or heard rumors but I in no way believe he knew this was going on. You can say what you want about Saban but I believe that he cares for these players. He wouldn’t be where if he didn’t. You can talk about the money all you want but Saban would have never made it this far if he were in it for the money. There are a lot easier ways to earn that much money than to work through the ranks of coaching. He obviously cares about these kids. Like most parents who have kids that are on or get involved with drugs there was probably very little he could have done. He can’t kick him off the team for rumors and he can’t search his room for drugs. I’m sure that if Saban ever asked Johns about anything it would have been denied.
I don’t blame Shula either. He had nothing to do with this and to say so is just a cop out. I will say though that the seriousness of this does make me want an explanation from Saban. I believe that we have a right to know how someone that was doing something this bad could be associated with the team and what is being done to make sure that it never happens again.
One aspect of this is the disapointment from the realization that things are still not completely right on the team. Johns’ actions are very selfish. They were all about his benefit and his risk was greater than just him. Maybe not as far as jail, but he has damaged the team none-the-less. He might have thought he was protecting his team mates by keeping this to himself and not including them, as reports have indicated, but that it s cop out too. His actions have affected not only his team but also our university and its public image. I would hope that at this point in Saban’s tenure that all of that selfish attitude would be gone. I guess now I will have to hope that this is the last desperate act in cleansing bad elements from the program, but I’m much more skeptical about it.
This incident is a huge black eye on the image of our school. From this point on and for quite some time we’re going to be known as the Cocaine School. You might as well get ready for it because it’s coming. And I don’t mind the teasing as much as the fact that there are people now who will see this incident and believe that this was an accurate reflection of our program. We’ve just gone from Bear Bryant worshipers to Coke heads. I don’t mind being called a Bear Bryant worshiper but for someone that has never seen cocaine, much less used it, that is going to sting. I’m not a prude or a goody-two-shoes either. I have drank way too much way too many times amoungst many other bad decisions I’ve made, but I’ve stayed away from hard drugs, thank heavens. The association with a hard drug is something that shames me. The last ten years have been tough to bear. I was hoping that we were moving past that. This is a big fat reminder that we aren’t out of the woods yet. In fact, I’m not sure I can even see the light.
The real troubling thing is that there is probably some truth to the drug thing. While I’ve never done coke, or seen it, I know that I’ve been close to it. It used to be a deal with some of the musicians and some of that crowd, which isn’t surprising. However, within the last year and a half I was personally aware that it was in at least some of the frat houses. And I think it’s tolerated because it basically stayed there. Those kids are spending their parents money on it and if they keep it close to the house and don’t bother other folks with it then no one really says anything. I am sure there are incidents where kids are in the open with it but they are few and far between. I don’t think I’m being naive here when I say that unless you’re moving in certain circles you aren’t going to see it. Sure every once in a while a kid gets hurt or killed but it’s just dismissed as one bad seed. The sad fact is that there are a lot of bad seeds.
I don’t believe that that kind of problem is exclusive to the University of Alabama but I also believe that the elitist attitude of privileged 18 to 22-year old kids is a little bit stronger here than most schools and that has been and will continue to be a problem. There has to be an element here that says cocaine use it OK. Really more so that using cocaine is cool. As long as that attitude persists the problem will not go away. I don’t beleive that for one instance that we can clean up campus and make it a lilly-white home for teatotallers and virgins, nor would I want it to be, but a place where cocaine use is not cool shouldn’t be that much to ask for. Let’s face it, Jimmy Johns didn’t bring coke dealing to Tuscaloosa. It was here before him and I can guaran-damn-tee you that he didn’t go out looking to get kids hooked on coke to earn extra money. It probably started as a conversation with him and a kid with long bangs wearing a long-sleeved shirt with shorts with boat shoes, who said, “Hey Jimmy, you know where I can get some coke?”
That’s the point Jimmy should have thought about the NFL money in a couple of years and said, “hell no.”
But he didn’t and know he’s going to have to serve hard time while Johnny Frat-Boy’s dad gets him out of any problems he might get into while at school and then he’ll get a sweet job from a friend of the family when he get his degree six years from now.
Jimmy was at fault for his actions. There is just a lot of others out there that don’t have to answer for theirs. That’s not right. And that is not representative of this university. Except that now it is. Jimmy Johns assoctiation with this school might have been brief but his legacy will last a long, long time.
My emotions, my wife noted, are very similar to what I go through after a loss. I believe that’s accurate. I feel like my pride has been wounded. Usually the answer to that is more football – Let’s also take a minute and not act like this isn’t about football- sure, it’s bigger on the scheme of things but were it not for football this would be another nameless drug arrest that we would never hear about. Obviously, this will sting a little bit longer because there is no football for two more months. Sure, starting practice will ease the pain and a win will be a big distraction, especially over a big rival, but no matter how good this season turns out, no matter how many games this team wins, after every win you’re going to hear someone make a comment about cocaine, and while that isn’t us, it’s at least some of us, and that will make every win, at least for me, a little bit hollow.