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

Tech magnet

September 9th, 2010
3:05 pm

Yeah dude, no comparison at all. I’d take AJ in a heartbeat over Jones. So would Saban.

Call IT

September 9th, 2010
3:06 pm

This guy is getting a free education that my tax dollars are paying for along with the fact that he will probably not graduate like most Black players but will only use UGA as a marketing platform to get into the NFL. I am sick and tired of others being passed up that gets the job done in the classroom, and yet we will still give scholarships to people who can’t even read on a 6th grade level. Maybe the punishment was a little much, but let’s not talk about all of the money that the university will make off of him as he is getting the red carpet treatment as it is.

Lapse

September 9th, 2010
3:06 pm

give me a break,

You had a QB that couldn’t even count to 5.

Delbert D.

September 9th, 2010
3:06 pm

reasonable – Another quote on commercialism from the NCAA site:

“A task force of university presidents, athletics directors and commissioners recently submitted a report on commercial activity in intercollegiate athletics, and the Division I Amateurism Cabinet is studying the report and its recommendations.”

Gwinnett Fred

September 9th, 2010
3:07 pm

Please get me the phone number of the “agent” that bought the jersey.

I can retire earlier by selling them my Dan Marino autographed, game worn jersey, which, if Greens was worth $1000, mine has to be worth 100 times as much.

Lapse

September 9th, 2010
3:08 pm

Call IT –

Exactly. I’m not on board with paying them. Which they already are getting paid with a free education.

BAMA dude

September 9th, 2010
3:08 pm

Tech magnet

September 9th, 2010
3:05 pm
Yeah dude, no comparison at all. I’d take AJ in a heartbeat over Jones. So would Saban.

Disagree completely. Julio has been a top-notch blocker in the run game which is top priority in Saban’s world. They are different players, no doubt. AJ can jump higher but Julio is stronger. Comparisons to TO vs. Moss at the collegiate level are appropriate. We’ll see what Julio does this year- they were rated dead nuts even (most services had Julio one notch higher) coming out of HS.

SILLY UGA FANS

September 9th, 2010
3:08 pm

I will bite ramblinwrecker, what players by name are you referring to? Please do not point out the orange bowl interview with Nesbitt. I have talked with him personnally and he does not speak like that in a natural setting.

Lapse

September 9th, 2010
3:09 pm

Gwinnett Fred

The “agent” was probably some 12 year old kid in South Carolina that knows his daddy’s credit card info

Porterdale

September 9th, 2010
3:10 pm

Silly UGA Fans,

Just about any of your athletes. Ha, the basketball players over the years have been priceless!!!!! What was the name of the thug you guys had that got arrested for bringing guns in the NBA lockerroom last year?

gdawginkalamazoo

September 9th, 2010
3:10 pm

Tide Rising, is it really Ingram’s knee that is hurt or did the NCAA interview him too and we are just waiting to see how that checks out?

D. Scott

September 9th, 2010
3:11 pm

Tony – The players know the rules. Playing football is a choice. They don’t have to play if they feel exploited. Pretty simple so quit over complicating it.

Gwinnett Fred

September 9th, 2010
3:11 pm

Lapse –

You may be right. Gives me an idea – go buy a few C.J.Spiller jerseys, make up a fake certificate of authenticity, autograph them – and head to Carolina and make a bundle!

Tech magnet

September 9th, 2010
3:12 pm

Of course you think that because you are a delusional Bama fan. And I think it’s pretty clear to everyone how they have separated themselves since high school.

Just add another 4 game advantage for Julio yet he still won’t touch Green’s stats.

Lapse

September 9th, 2010
3:14 pm

LOL, great idea. Heck, it could have been Spurrier that bought Green’s jersey. It honestly wouldn’t shock me if it was

law

September 9th, 2010
3:14 pm

Why has the “so called” agents name not been released? These agents know the rules and induce these kids to violate them. Why not a tougher stand by the NCAA against agents that cheat? I’d like to see reporters going after the agents that violated the rules and doing a story on them. I can’t imagine the agent in the Green case answer for what was your reason for oferring Green $1,000 for his jersey.

commonsense

September 9th, 2010
3:14 pm

Julio Jones – Good college player

AJ Green – Phenomenal college player

NorthShoreDawg

September 9th, 2010
3:15 pm

bad article Tony . . . where’s the balance? It’s pretty insulting to the fans to put this one-sided cah-cah out there like this

Lapse

September 9th, 2010
3:15 pm

law –

Because it was no agent. Read the report. Their definition of an agent is anyone that COULD promote or market a player. And no, I didn’t make that up.

chazzo

September 9th, 2010
3:16 pm

To all the idiots chiming in on this blog: It’s nothing but trash talk until January. Then it’s time to talk.

Emanual

September 9th, 2010
3:16 pm

The 4 games should most definitely be reduced but you know they won’t be. Shame. I was looking forward to seeing this kid in a full last season of play.

Gwinnett Fred

September 9th, 2010
3:17 pm

Lapse -

What a great thought. It was SPURRIER that bought it, knowing of a sure suspension once it was reported (wink, wink) that would be at least 2 games into this year.

Damn, the old ball coach is smarter than I thought!!

Paul in RDU

September 9th, 2010
3:17 pm

BAMA Dude – PSU’s last game against an SEC team was a victory over LSU last year in a bowl.
PSU rarely gets blown out in big games

SAM!!!

September 9th, 2010
3:18 pm

Great column MR. BARNHART!!! YOU HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD!!!
CASE CLOSED AND NOTHING MORE TO ADD!!!

BAMA dude

September 9th, 2010
3:18 pm

Of course he won’t touch Green’s stats. Have you seen our D and running game? We rarely have to throw.

Here are some memories for AJ…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_1F0FJwh34

Dog - the Football Fan

September 9th, 2010
3:18 pm

Tony – are you for real?

“These players are finally getting fed up?”

Heck – if the players are decent – they are only there 3 years! Many only play 2 years – look at Moreno – redshirted his freshman year – left after his red shirt sophomore year.

Stafford and a host of others left after 3 years.

These kids feel they are owed. They are getting a free ride in life for 4/5 years if they stay that long. All they have to do is go to classes, study, train and play the sport they love – and haveing a great experience.

Also – the millions that are raked in are paying for the incredible stadium, the state of the art training facilities, the other sports.

Football players are not the only athletes that workout year round. Many other sports do more travel – play more games – and work out year round as well.

Soccer players play a fall schedule – have winter workouts – train in the spring and play a spring “friendly” schedule – then have summer workouts – subject to the same rules as football players.

Look at the hardship of college baseball players – more travel, MANY more games, but they play for scholarships, the love of the game, and the opportunity to go pro.

Tony – you have talked yourself into believing that football players are the only athletes that count. Football is the sport that brings in the revenue – but the players will come and be gone every 3- 4 years. They are scholarship athletes – same as soccer, basketball, baseball and others. It just happens that Football is the sport that brings in the revenue.

ehhh.....

September 9th, 2010
3:20 pm

chazzo,

WTF are you talking about

BAMA dude

September 9th, 2010
3:21 pm

I know. I just expect the Frosh to make some mistakes against the Bama D. With no mistakes on offense Bama would still win. A couple turnovers turn it into 17 points. I wouldn’t think they’d score as much if it were in Happy Valley.

Tech magnet

September 9th, 2010
3:22 pm

AJ isn’t worried about Cornrows the bust, I assure you

Tech magnet

September 9th, 2010
3:23 pm

However, I do hope you guys destroy Penn St. The Big 10 homer media is salivating since the Big 10 FINALLY had one good bowl showing last year. Just imagine if they have another good showing this year. Then you could expect all 12 teams in their conference in the preseason top 25 next year.

Paul in RDU

September 9th, 2010
3:24 pm

BAMA dude – fair enough.

peppers

September 9th, 2010
3:25 pm

Right now Julio Jones is still all hype. And he’ll continue to be all hype until he gets to the NFL and on a team that will try him as an everyday receiver. I don’t think he makes it. At linebacker maybe….

Chris king

September 9th, 2010
3:26 pm

I think it is crazy that universities make tons of money off these athletes and they dont see a dime. Even if the jersey’s are generic you are buying that jersey because of that player that wears it. Give the kids something $500 dollars a month is better than nothing at all.

TAC

September 9th, 2010
3:27 pm

Mr. Barnhart,

There are a lot of comments above, so maybe someone covered this. Although you write an opinion column, I’m wondering if fact (or spell) checking is a requirement. (Nickle? Really?)

While I would consider you an enabler of bad behavior by your opinion, you are entitled to it. But please cite the NCAA Bylaw that allows the sales of an NCAA athlete’s jersey with that athlete’s name on it. It is, in fact, a prohibited practice and has been for quite some time. If you are aware of an NCAA member or bookstore, etc., engaging in this practice, please turn them in, as you would then have something to write about! See Darren Rovell’s piece from some years ago: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/sportsbusiness/news/story?id=1774259

As far as your rant about the NCAA’s rules, most people don’t realize the NCAA is governed by its own members! It can only make and enforce the rules it votes for each year. I’m surprised at you. Yes, the employees at NCAA HQ are not employees of any institution, they are there to run the organization that college presidents, ADs and coaches hire them to run. So, although Adams, Evans (at the time) and Richt may not have directly voted for these particular penalties, they are “the NCAA” and helped punish Mr. Green the same as anyone else.

Keep doing what you’re doing, but please take a deep breath and do some research before spouting off irresponsibly and inciting an online riot stoked by a pack mentality.

Not A UGA Fan But I Don't Hate You

September 9th, 2010
3:32 pm

Personally Tony, I couldn’t care less…….

BAMA dude

September 9th, 2010
3:33 pm

All hype? He has 96 catches for 1400 yards in a run-oriented offense coming into this season. AJ has 103 for 1714.

And don’t forget that as Freshmen, Green had the top NFL pick throwing to him while Jones had JPW and Bama’s run oriented offense.

I’m not saying Julio is clearly better than Green, in fact somebody else brought this up. I think they have equal potential as different types of players.

But I don’t think AJ is necessarily the top athlete in the country either. My first thought would be Patrick Peterson.

Tide Rising

September 9th, 2010
3:37 pm

gdawginkalamazoo,

Ingram really did have knee surgery. Arthroscopic. He is fine and could play in the Penn State game but Saban’s policy is that if you don’t practice by Thursday you don’t play. So he will play next week. As long as he is back by the Arky game in week 4 I’m cool.

Paul in RDU

September 9th, 2010
3:39 pm

Tech magnet – Living vicariously through ALA are we? If you want UGA to flex their muscles against a Big 10 team in the regular season you should schedule one.
ALA is doing a home and home vs PSU. UGA has only played a Big 10 team in the regular season 2x in all the years they have been playing – and that was almost 50 years ago.

FLA DAWG

September 9th, 2010
3:40 pm

Not only do I agree with you Tony but this piece was very well written.
AJ did a dumb thing but the punishment is incredibly excessive.
The lesson to be learned from this is to NOT cooperate with the NCAA because if you do you will receive a stiffer punishment than if they are not sure of the truth.

Tide Rising

September 9th, 2010
3:40 pm

Bama dude and tech magnet,

I say put julio and aj in the octagon and let them settle in man to man as to who is better. I gotta feeling Julio would kick aj’s ass all over the place.

Tech magnet

September 9th, 2010
3:41 pm

Bama dude,

Again, look at the number of games Jones has played compared to AJ. And also don’t forget AJ had that midget Joe Cox throwing it to him last year. No comparison.

Tech magnet

September 9th, 2010
3:42 pm

No Big 10 team will do a home and home with UGA. Dooley and the idiot we just fired had tried numerous times.

curious

September 9th, 2010
3:43 pm

@ Paul in RDU,

do you admit that the Big 10 is the most beloved conference by all media?

Dave

September 9th, 2010
3:46 pm

I think the problem lies in this can be a loophole if you allow it to be. A kid sells a jersey on Ebay for say $300 no big deal. he sells the same jersey to this agent for $1000 of more concern.. A big money bags booster gives him $50,000 for a jersey and the kid comes back his senior year.
If the kid was smart he gives the jersey to his cousin who in turn sells it for say $500 and gives AJ back $400 nobody would be the wiser. I have no doubt kids do things under the table all the time this was a time the NCAA was out snooping with a magnifying glass and he got caught.

reasonable

September 9th, 2010
3:46 pm

I expect that the NCAA will continue to look at this whole issue beyond the study you cited. My point, however, was did you, not the NCAA, agree with my contention that the rules and regulations were too complex and subject to misinterpretation in application.

gdawginkalamazoo

September 9th, 2010
3:48 pm

I have a feeling that AJ and Julio will both be multi millionaires this time next year and neither gives a damn what any single person on here thinks about them. Good luck this year to both of them. Both are talented and UGA is lucky to have AJ when he can play. Bama is blessed with Julio.

BAMA dude

September 9th, 2010
3:48 pm

Tech magnet

September 9th, 2010
3:42 pm
No Big 10 team will do a home and home with UGA. Dooley and the idiot we just fired had tried numerous times.

But they will with Bama?

dawg fan

September 9th, 2010
3:48 pm

Get a life. UGA is not out of control. kids will be kids. I think there have been more arrest at schools like Tenn, Fla, the do nothing wrong fighting irish and many more than at UGA. Plus AJ owes UGA nothing. He has made them 10 times more money than they are paying for his schooling.

Tide Rising

September 9th, 2010
3:48 pm

Tech magnet,

I seriously doubt Dooley and Evans tried “numerous” times to get a home and home with a big 10 team. That’s just your conjecture.

Bama has a home and home with Penn State and with Mich State in 2016 and 2017. Vandy has a home and home with Nwestern and Ohio State has played home and homes recently with USC and Texas. I doubt that they would be scared of UGA or anyone else in the sec. If someone in the SEC wants to schedule a home and home with a big 10 team it can be done.

BAMA dude

September 9th, 2010
3:49 pm

UGA runs a different offense too.