Why I can’t be mad at A.J. Green

I’ll be honest. My first reaction when I heard of A.J. Green’s four-game suspension was one of anger.

And it wasn’t because Green owes any of us anything. I want to see the guy play because he’s a great player. And when there is a big game like Saturday’s between Georgia and South Carolina I want both teams to have all of their weapons. I love college football and I want to see great players play. And we’ve got too many guys who are not playing right now because of NCAA rules violations.

No, I was angry at A.J. because it seems so unnecessary. Early next year A.J. Green is going to be a very wealthy man because he is going to turn pro. So the money was coming. A.J. is a smart kid and he knew that there is no level where selling his jersey for a lousy $1,000 bucks was not a rules violation. The risk/reward/punishment equation for doing this just didn’t add up.

If this NCAA ruling stands (three more games on suspension), and it shouldn’t because it’s excessive, what should be an unforgettable junior season for Green will be forever tainted with “Yeah, he was good but he missed four games.” That made me sad and, at first, angry.

But I learned a long time ago that it’s easy for us adults to wag our fingers and say “Hey, those are the rules. You gotta follow them.” We’re not in the kid’s shoes. We don’t have to watch while the schools fill the stadiums, accept millions from television and make more millions from selling his jersey (with his name on it) while the system pats us on the head and assures us that our day is coming if we’ll only be patient. We really only learn that kind of patience as an adult. Youth, by its very defintion, is not patient.

Understand that the NCAA makes these rules not to regulate what actually happens, like one kid selling a jersey for $1,000. The rules are in place to control what COULD happen–like a kid selling 500 jerseys (provided to him by an agent) for $1,000 each. The NCAA punishes the nickle and dime stuff in hopes of preventing something really big and bad from happening.

When Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant lied to investigators about his relationship with Deion Sanders, the NCAA banned him for the rest of his junior season. Bryant was not truthful but was his lie REALLY that bad? Well, no but the move sent a chilling message to other athletes: Lie to NCAA investigators and you’re done. That message was received and understood. Now before every interview with the NCAA the kid has the fear of God put in him. That was by design.

Yes, the financial end of college athletics is certainly to the benefit of the schools. It’s all one big double standard, we know that. But certain things are just a blatant slap in the face to these guys. The fact that A.J. Green may lose a third of his junior season for selling a jersey while the University Bookstore sells a bunch of them is a double slap. It’s the establishment telling these kids: We can make money off your talent and fame in every damn way we please. If you try it, though, we’ll use the rules to take you out and to keep you in line.

The NCAA enforcement people have been working overtime this summer trying to keep a lid on a bunch of these issues from Agent Gate to Hotel Gate. At the core of all of them is a system where the athletes realize on a daily basis that they are getting a raw deal. They get to the point where they don’t care any more. It’s “hey, if they catch me they catch me but I’m not taking this any more.”

  We as fans wonder where the loyalty is to the institution. But through the eyes of a young kid from modest or poor circumstances, that loyalty street seems to only run one way.

I don’t have a lot of answers for you this morning but I would suggest this: A school like Georgia should be able to sell all of the No. 8 jerseys it wants. The jersey and the number belong to the school.

But when some schools–and I am told that Georgia is not one of them–start putting name on the back on the jersey then you have crossed an ethical line. What the kid did on the field made that jersey more valuable than a generic one. He created that extra value and cannot share in it. So the school shouldn’t share in it either.

So let’s just end that practice. Is it a little thing in the grand scheme of things? Absolutely. But it would be one less slap in the face to a group of people who are getting tired of being pushed around.

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847 comments Add your comment

From 11-3 to 14-0

September 9th, 2010
7:25 am

Go Jackets !

sportsguru95

September 9th, 2010
7:30 am

tony's a homer

September 9th, 2010
7:30 am

You are the ultimate homer. Aj got what he deserved. He’s lucky its only 4 games. Ritch has lost control of his team. This is the third year in a row thUGA has major off field problems. Get it together UGA. You are embarrassing the SEC.

Palladin

September 9th, 2010
7:31 am

The punishment wouldn’t have been so severe had he not sold the jersey to a sports agent. You know that — why did you not mention it?

In Decatur

September 9th, 2010
7:32 am

Ethically wrong to put the name on the back of the jersey? Perhaps. What is really creepy is that grown men would purchase and wear the name of a 20 year old on their back. Just buy a t-shirt or a polo shirt.

banders1

September 9th, 2010
7:33 am

When will sportswriters grow up. How is NCAA football players any different from an apprenticeship that a blue collar worker has to do? First few years of a welder’s life may stink because they have to learn the ropes before they make real money. Then when they pay their dues they get their money. Same with NCAA football (and bb) players. Pay your dues then get paid. Love your work TB, but please stop promoting that tired argument that it’s a double standard because the NCAA makes money off the athletes. Sure they do – welcome to capitalism. Works that way outside sports too.

Frank Lane

September 9th, 2010
7:34 am

That is actually a good idea Tony. In fact a class action lawsuit against the NCAA and the Universities for using their names without their permission would probably win. I am not a lawyer, but I am a marketing person and I agree. The athlete owns their name.

Bill

September 9th, 2010
7:34 am

Michael

September 9th, 2010
7:37 am

Why do I think that if this was another player on a rival team (FL, TN, Bama), this article would be different and the reaction would be one of “cheaters”, etc? Just a gut feeling…

sportsguru95

September 9th, 2010
7:38 am

Love ur show on790! U r on point with this article. The NCAA needs a overhaul of these rules,ppl think these athletes don’t want for nothing. During football season this may b true, but what r u suppose 2 do when ur parents can’t afford 2 send u money. In a perfect world yes a athlete will not take money, because he he knows da rule.. n da real world $1000 dollars spends real good when ur n college BROKE.

Gator229

September 9th, 2010
7:39 am

wahhhhh wahhhh wahhhhh cry me a river. Do what you’re supposed to do and everything will be okay.

Water Girl Wants To Know

September 9th, 2010
7:39 am

Coach

Who will be suspended or arrested next week?

What is that dog licking?

September 9th, 2010
7:39 am

UGA will win in Columbia without Green, and will destroy Mallett and the piggies. Mallett does not have the feet to escape the pressure that is coming, and South Carolina can not imitate that kind of pressure in practice, so both QB’s are in for a long day.

Gator229

September 9th, 2010
7:40 am

I wonder how far $1000 went at KFC

Dawg_Mike

September 9th, 2010
7:41 am

Lets be realistic. The jersey wasn’t worth $1000. The person he sold it to gave him a grand in hopes he would make him part of his camp next year when he goes pro. Just a little cash up front, that’s all.

SickandTired

September 9th, 2010
7:43 am

They don’t sell the jerseys with the names on the back. They just don’t. Stores will put the name on the back but you can’t police that. The jersey he sold was an actual game jersey he used in the freaking independence bow. Now that baby had a lot of value didn’t it? $1000 to even the most casual observer would tell you that this wasn’t about buying something that was worth that much money but more about getting cash in the kids hands. He knew it was wrong period. Saint Mark of Bowden is running a cess pool of a program and keeping his teflon coated self floating above it in his overpriced yacht.
Georgia: The Wisconsin of the SEC
Georgia deserves better.

travy

September 9th, 2010
7:45 am

they should put these kids on work study and pay them like they pay thousands of other students. it’s not much but it would help many kids and kill at least some of the temptations that are driven by actual financial need.

Roaddawg80

September 9th, 2010
7:46 am

The name is not on the back. It’s against NCAA rules to put the name on the back. Only his game jersey had his name on the back. So A.J. is at total fault. We all knew this was coming when he took a insurance policy out on himself this summer. What kind of message at that point in time did he send to the bulldog nation. This is nothing short of a selfish act.

Old Fan

September 9th, 2010
7:46 am

The exploitation wouldn’t be so bad if the NCAA at least allowed payment of a small weekly stipend to players. Some of these kids show up with only a pair of blue jeans and a couple of t-shirts. They have no money—none—and they often come from desperately poor families. They can’t afford to go home without the kindness of other students. So some agent or coach waves a few hundred dollar bills in their faces, or else some wealthy fan offers the use of a car. The outcome is too often predictable.

I understand what the NCAA is trying to do. But there has to be some middle ground here. Allowing these kids a hundred a week in spending money isn’t going to create chaos.

Bill

September 9th, 2010
7:47 am

1. It was a stupid move on Greens part.
2. The NCAA’s punishment was excessive given that the Bama kid only got 2 games for 1800.00 worth of “improper benefit” that included expensive bottles.
3. No school can sell a jersey with a players name on it… only the number.

btgt69

September 9th, 2010
7:47 am

Tony you are advocating paying the players. They already get paid. What is a college education worth per year? Show me another 18 year old that is receiving a free education, room and board, medical care, etc. It is easily worth 50,000 per year after taxes. Players know the rules, don’t break them. Consequences should follow for violations; look what happens in AZ when laws are not enforced by the feds.

wooderson

September 9th, 2010
7:47 am

The argument that the student athlete gets nothing is laughable. They don’t pay a dime for tuition, room, and board. They eat like kings, they get every imaginable shoe, sweat, shirt, jersey, etc. They fly on charter jets, they stay in luxury hotels. Those that choose to get escorted through a jock major while still maintaining eligibility. Is the system fair? No it isn’t. But to suggest the athlete gets nothing is absurd.

The Ghost of Wally Butts

September 9th, 2010
7:48 am

It’s not the single events that bother me at this point – it’s the overall trend.

Richt, for all of his good traits and accomplishments, is clearly losing the respect of the players. They have no fear – none – of illegal behavior.

The stealing and rule breaking and sideline dancing will keep right on happening, and it’s a shame to see a program that once had such discipline fall down around it’s foundations.

AU77

September 9th, 2010
7:48 am

AJ is just another example of trying to get away with making a little cash. He knew it was wrong… With that being said Tony you are dead on target. If it is a rule it should be for all areas… It is sad because I like watching exceptional talent on the field each week. Can we move the suspension to the last four games!!! WAR EAGLE..

MB

September 9th, 2010
7:49 am

Even as a Tech fan I think this punishment is waaaaay too harsh. Tony is only mad because it affects a beloved SEC school…..if this was anyone else we would get a “you know the rules and you broke them” speech. Where are my SEC homers declaring that Thursday night is for JV when your squads have been in the last two games?

Roaddawg80

September 9th, 2010
7:50 am

I am so sick of hearing these kids don’t get what they deserve. How everyone is making money off their name. Well add the tuition, books, room and board, meal money, etc. I bet its well over $300,000.00 package. Not to include the UNIVERSITY is the one giving that kid a opportunity of a lifetime. A four year degree and if good enough a ticket to the NFL. That would be like getting mad at me boss for making a million dollars of the designs I make for his company. Both ways we are trading out work. Makes no sense. The problem is the media keeps spoiling them. Blame them including you barnhardt!

Frank Lane

September 9th, 2010
7:51 am

Tony, the other side of this is that you cannot just break a rule or a law because you don’t like the law. If that were the case, I would never pay taxes. He knew this was wrong and did it anyway. I think that if I were Richt, I might suspend his entire Junior season which would have to cost him something in NFL terms. That would show the team that no one is above the law, no one is above the rules, no matter how wrong the rule might seem.

I think what Green did was more wrong that what Matt Z did which was a matter of judgment and subject to interpretation. I feel the same way about Ogletree. Selling and stealing are overt sober decisions that have to do with black and white rules. Break them and you are gone.

Jim

September 9th, 2010
7:53 am

AJ GREEN LIED TO THE NCAA. Stop all the “too harsh” talk. He got 1 game suspension for selling the jersey (to an agent). He got 3 games suspension for LYING. Why is that so hard to understand?

George P Burdell

September 9th, 2010
7:53 am

“We really only learn that kind of patience as an adult.” I disagree. Most people, including corporate executives making millions, will take the money now rather than wait for the money in the future.
On a different note, congratulations Mr. Barnhart on all of TV and radio shows that you host or participate… you have definitely earned it in my opinion.

Douglas

September 9th, 2010
7:53 am

Why doesn’t the AJC subpoena the NCAA for the name of the agent? This person ought to be punished too. And while you are at it, tell us the agent’s home address.

Court of Appeals

September 9th, 2010
7:54 am

`
Ole Miss
won their appeal with the NCAA.

heyberto

September 9th, 2010
7:55 am

Palladin – the NCAA was very careful with its wording of the issue that he sold it to someone who ‘meets the NCAA definition of an agent’ (paraphrase). I think that’s got a lot of us curious just how much of an actual ‘agent’ this person is. That will come out at some point, and I think its going to be interesting. AJ did something stupid, and if its 4 games, its 4 games… but I agree with Tony that it’s excessive. Particularly when guys that went to Miami on an agent’s dime only got 2. He has to pay his dues for doing this, no question… but I do think its excessive.

Dink

September 9th, 2010
7:56 am

So Tony, was AJ not truthful with the NCAA? I’m hearing that is why it’s 4 games instead of two.

Go Dawgs!

uga_b

September 9th, 2010
7:56 am

Yes it was against the rules and yes the NCAA was excessive.

I honestly have no respect for this organization. Reggie Bush never got suspended by the NCAA.

Shug

September 9th, 2010
7:58 am

Barnhart, you’re a pedophile. Why can people like you make gobs of money off people like A.J. Green, but when Green and other players try to make a buck off their talent, you scream “ethics violation.” College players should have agents to protect them from you and your gross cronies.

Jim

September 9th, 2010
7:58 am

My favorite post is the guy (Michael, I believe) who said that if this were any other team that UGA fans would be calling them cheaters, they got what they deserved, etc….but now that precious AJ Green is in trouble…well then, he is a victim and the NCAA is wrong. Whatever. UGA fans, you have a serious problem…the lack of leadership in your coach reflects in your players….why have 3 other SEC schools won the last 4 consecutive national titles while GA is playing in the Independence Bowl? It’s not a lack of talent. It’s a lack of leadership and discipline on behalf of your head man. Face the facts. The SEC has passed UGA by and this is yet another instance of that fact.

Jeff

September 9th, 2010
7:58 am

Angry??? That is an understatement! Here we go YET AGAIN….Thanks AJ…Thanks Coach Richt. You all talk a great game in the pre-season but in the fall its the same crap. WHEN IS COACH RICHT GOING TO FINALLY PUT HIS FOOT DOWN AND GET THIS PROGRAM WHERE IT NEEDS TO BE. I AM SICK AND TIRED OF THROWING THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS TO A PROGRAM THAT YEAR IN AND YEAR OUT SPORTS AT LEATS 8 ARREST AND NUMEROUS SUSPENSIONS. AND WE ASK OURSELVES “WHY CANT WE GET A BREAK?? I CAN SEE US NOW AT THE END OF YET ANOTHER DISAPOINTING SEASON….WELL IF WE HAD ONLY BEAT SOUTH CAROLINA AND ARKANSAS…THIS HAS BEEN THE MO OF UGA AS OF LATE EARTH TO COACH RICHT…BEING MR NICE GUY TO THESE PLAYERS AND SHOWERING THEM WITH LOVE IS GETING YOU NO WHERE….THAT AJ DID THIS ALONG WITH THE OTHER 8 CAST OF CHARATERS FOR THIS YEARS VERSION OF TEAM TELLS YOU THE LAUGH BEHIND YOUR BACK……USE TOUGH LOVE!!!!!

uga_b

September 9th, 2010
7:58 am

Dink, from what I heard it was a relative of an agent.

uga_b

September 9th, 2010
7:59 am

Bill Clinton didn’t even get suspended for one day so lets stop the moral crusade.

I think the NCAA just tries to remain relavant.

Dog Catcher

September 9th, 2010
8:00 am

Shreveport is a dangerous city for our youngsters.

Old School

September 9th, 2010
8:01 am

Shug:

That’s way over the line. Grow up.

17 of 20

September 9th, 2010
8:01 am

If the 4 game suspensions stands then there must be more to the story than is being printed today. Tony can’t you dig into it and get back with us.

JB

September 9th, 2010
8:02 am

This Georgia team will rally and unite. I think even Spurrier figures Richt will use this to motivate the team. Gotta feeling Dawgs win big Saturday. Grantham will have that defense foaming at the mouth. I look for Garcia to be knocked out before the first half is over. Dawgs win 24-10

Todd

September 9th, 2010
8:03 am

Well said Jeff. It certainly goes without saying the players are not taking the head coach very seriously nor do they seem to have a fear of consequences and why should they? I felt real good about this year until now. Murray is way to giddy after beating what amounted to a high school team and I too have the feeling we will be saying “if we could have only”…..in december…..

uga_b

September 9th, 2010
8:03 am

Jim, you’re an idiot. Sorry I couldn’t be more poetic. If you have noticed LITERALLY ANYTHING about the beginning of this year it is how widespread agent relationships are.

As far as programs with people who break laws and rules that were pretty successful I can name 3 off my head Miami, FSU, and Alabama. FWIW, Richt actually kicks people off the team and punishes them. I still find it hard to believe that no football player ever gets arrested in Opelika or Starkville.

hotrod

September 9th, 2010
8:06 am

“Pushed around” my @$$. When are you people who defend these immature prima donnas going to acknowledge that an opportunity for a free education that costs upwards of $100,000 or more with all the special tutoring they need is more than adequate compensation for their performances in any athletic arena. It’s even worse when those like Green who never intend to graduate anyway, and as you say will be a wealthy young man next year, take advantage of the system. It’s time the inmates lost control of the prisons!

uga_b

September 9th, 2010
8:07 am

If the NCAA wants this to “stop” let future pros take out Lebron loans on future potential. That way they are only accepting money from their future selves. Or how about giving the players a share of the Bowl money.

Damon Good Dog Evans

September 9th, 2010
8:07 am

Anybody want to buy some red panties? I’ll autograph em.

uga_b

September 9th, 2010
8:10 am

Hotrod, that “free education” that AJ Green gets gives the university about 20 times ROI or higher. The Universities pay college players to come play. In football’s case, they actually make back their money.

He should have followed the rules and is losing 1/6 of his college carreer which he will never get back.

dap01

September 9th, 2010
8:10 am

I saw a ad yesterdat on EBay with a Nesbitt signed helment, the highest bid was $24.95. Ha, Ha, Ha. That says it all.