One UGA jersey = four lost games: Doesn’t seem fair, does it?

Nice shirt, huh? A.J. Green in the Independence Bowl. (AP photo)

That shirt will cost you. A.J. Green in the Independence Bowl. (AP photo)

Question to A.J. Green: Was it worth it? Selling your jersey from a no-account bowl for a lousy grand and costing yourself one-third of what will surely be your final collegiate season?

Obvious answer: No. It’s too heavy a penalty for a picayune violation. But it remains incongruous how A.J. Green’s image can be used to promote games televised by networks paying millions of dollars for the broadcast rights and the player himself can’t bank a dime for selling his own shirt? (Even though UGA can sell a replica jersey bearing Green’s number, for which Green himself gets not one red cent.)

Fans being fans, they see only the greater (and reflected) glory of their beloved program. Whenever a player decides to leave school early, they brand him an ingrate and they wail, “Where’s the loyalty?” Right here’s your loyalty: Millions for the networks and the conferences and the athletic departments and the coaches and …

Tuition and room and board for the guys who do the heavy lifting.

Granted, a free college education is no trifle. Lots of kids pray every night for that opportunity. But let’s not be disingenuous. A big-time college football player’s immediate goal isn’t to get a degree in accounting and hunker down behind a desk at Price Waterhouse. He wants to play in the NFL, the place where Brady and T.O.  and the Mannings play. The NFL’s where the money is, and it’s money without bylaws, money you don’t have to hide.

But so long as the NFL decrees that a player must remain an amateur until three years after his high school graduation, he has no real vocational alternative. He has to go to college and conduct himself like a college student, even if the nature of his special talent separates him from the average college student, who doesn’t fly on charter jets and who doesn’t have to study as hard in a film room as in a chemistry lab and who isn’t interviewed by Erin Andrews.

It’s the inherent disconnect of big-time collegiate sports: The biggest games are played by a bunch of guys who can’t wait to get out of college. If they could turn pro right away — straight out of high school, the way baseball players can — how many would agree to sit in class for three years?

This isn’t to excuse Green. He should have known better. He let down his teammates. (He admitted as much in a statement released Wednesday.) He shouldn’t have been hanging around anyone who could be construed as an agent, but it gets harder and harder to know exactly what an agent is. He took a risk not worth taking, and now, pending Georgia’s appeal, he’ll miss at least three games more, all of which the Bulldogs stand a chance to lose.

And if Georgia does lose while he’s sitting, some of those fans who were praying he’d be cleared by the NCAA will see him as the villain. But he’s not a villain. He’s a young man who made a mistake. He didn’t get himself arrested. He broke no law of Clarke County or Georgia or these United States. He flouted the NCAA’s little regulations and got docked for it. This is the same NCAA that continues to turn a blind eye to the excesses of the BCS. This same brave NCAA would much rather charge, net in hand, after a butterfly than confront a rogue elephant.

Not long after he was drafted No. 1 overall, I went to Cumming and watched Michael Vick do an unadorned autograph session in the back room of an antiques barn. I kept asking myself, “Why would a guy who stands to make millions spend a Saturday afternoon doing this?” And then it hit me: Because he could. Because the NCAA could no longer tell him what not to do. Because he could stick that money in his pocket and have to answer to no one.

We cannot absolve Adriel Jeremiah Green of responsibility. So far as we know, he wasn’t entrapped. But let’s take today’s news and file it away for that January day when he announces he’s leaving for the NFL. And let no one among us be so naive as to ask why.

684 comments Add your comment

Bobby

September 8th, 2010
6:32 pm

Mark, During his appeal can he play?

Bobby

September 8th, 2010
6:34 pm

O first!!!!!

Dawg Tired

September 8th, 2010
6:35 pm

Mark – How do you explain the disparity between AJ’s punishment and the Alabama player’s punishment. Seems totally indefensible to me. Just the import of the games being missed seems so out of whack. Three very important conference games against quality opponents (2 of those on the road). Surely the NCAA takes into consideration the importance of the games being missed! This is plum bizarre to me. What am I missing?

Lance

September 8th, 2010
6:35 pm

Bobby, no he can’t. IF we lose the appeal we might have to forfeit the games he played

gregg

September 8th, 2010
6:36 pm

jntiii

September 8th, 2010
6:36 pm

How come the names of the agents in these cases are never disclosed?

J Clay

September 8th, 2010
6:37 pm

2 games would seem to be the right amount here – would still miss the big game this weekend…Problem is when NCAA shows up they will find something – they came about Miami and that appears to have checked out okay for AJ – but they do not show up to campus and go away “empty handed”

roldawg70

September 8th, 2010
6:38 pm

i’ve long thought players
should paid a stipend
which i believe help
alleviate some of this
kind of thing

shreveport

September 8th, 2010
6:40 pm

we strike again!!!

Beast from the East

September 8th, 2010
6:41 pm

I agree in principle, Mark. That being said, the rules are the rules and all these players know what they are. The coaches and compliance officers go to great lengths to ensure the kids not only know the rules but know to come ask if there is ever any doubt. He made a decision to break the rules and must suffer the consequences. Doesn’t make him a “thug” or a bad kid. Just a kid that made a bad decision. If he decides to go pro after this season, could it end up costing him millions of dollars? For this young man’s sake, hopefully not. Personsally, I cannot honestly say that I would have been able to resist the temptation at that age. Fortunately (not), I wasn’t in demand to that extint! LOL!!

Bull

September 8th, 2010
6:41 pm

I like when you put together a solid artcle Bradley. Now help Schultz get his head on straight

UGAgrad71

September 8th, 2010
6:42 pm

I just hope there is nothing else out there on AJ that is waiting to be discovered. If there was and UGA knew it, he should be dismissed from the team. Otherwise we could forfeit all games AJ plyed in. So dumb and even sadder.

Bark Madley

September 8th, 2010
6:42 pm

Mark,
Yet again you show your love for UGA athletics. You have no idea whether AJ lied to investigators or what the circumstances are. How about being a journalist and finding these things out. Your snap judgment BS articles are getting tired. I could read the same drivel on Bleacher report, and none of those writers claim to be journalists. Pathetic article by a wounded newspaper on it’s last legs. Long live the internet and Coley Harvey, the harpoon that will finally slay this old decaying fish wrapper.

Mark Bradley

September 8th, 2010
6:42 pm

No, Bobby. He can’t. It’s not like MLB, where the players have all the power.

destin dawg

September 8th, 2010
6:42 pm

Saban’ right !! these agents are PIMPS… who offered $1000 ??? who bought it !!! this “agent” should be banned forever !!! NCAA has an axe to grind with UGA… 2 games = same for similiar violations… Go Dawgs !!!

RTR

September 8th, 2010
6:42 pm

Julius Jones is better anyway

Benjamin

September 8th, 2010
6:43 pm

lol @ Shreveport. [Well played.]

Forget the Alabama guy’s punishment. What about Jeremiah Masoli? Dude is found guilty of his infractions, which involved stealing, and basically gets a free transfer to Ole Miss?

AJ Green sold a jersey. I could understand one, maybe two games without looking elsewhere. But four with Masoli playing every down if he wants at Ole Miss?

The NCAA isn’t exactly ran by a bunch of genuises with logic like that.

BugKiller

September 8th, 2010
6:43 pm

Mark,

How the HELL does Dareus only miss TWO GAMES for taking (TAKING!) $1800 from an agent for two trips to Miami, and AJ Green gets four games for selling his own damn jersey???

Does the NCAA not understand 2nd Grade Math???

Beast from the East

September 8th, 2010
6:43 pm

dawg tired,
From what I have read, the kid at Alabama basically self-reported his violation to his school and they contacted the NCAA. Not the case with AJ. As we all know, the NCAA came calling without an invitation. That would be my best guess at the difference in the punishment.

saban

September 8th, 2010
6:44 pm

The young man knew better.

A grand for a jersey?

What else has been sold to make a buck.

Imagine The AD`s red panties would fetch at least 10 grand.

This is all about Mr. Richt.

FO FI FREE

September 8th, 2010
6:44 pm

WHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

Kennesaw Dawg

September 8th, 2010
6:44 pm

Once again the officials in their ivory towers at the NCAA show us what a bunch of low life scum suckers ther really are, as if we didn’t already know. Four games? Get real. Give these guys a stipend for all the millions and millions they make for the colleges and the fat arses at the NCAA that are all probably dipping into the honey pot anyway. IDIOTS.

Charlie Bama

September 8th, 2010
6:44 pm

I truly hope the person who bought Green’s jersey wasn’t an agent. That opens up a whole new dimension to this issue –and Dawg fans will not like the outcome. has anyone heard about where the $1,000 came from (that was supposedly invested in the jersey)??

Bull

September 8th, 2010
6:45 pm

I understand the audacity of it all with these college athletes needing money and the NCAA/universities benefitting. The problem is the 4 game suspension and the timing it took.

There needs to be consistency and diligence with the NCAA on these matters.

observation

September 8th, 2010
6:45 pm

It was foolish and he should be suspended, but it should be consistent with the Alabama player and be 2 games, not 4. 4 seems rather draconian.

dbc

September 8th, 2010
6:45 pm

Simple. Let him sit out Vandy, Idaho and Miss. State. Does anyone educate these players at all on what they can and can’t do. Rule 1 should be, “If it even smells like an agent, run away as fast as you can.” Wow.

destin dawg

September 8th, 2010
6:45 pm

juice sourcer

September 8th, 2010
6:47 pm

I made a post when AJ had to sit out about the players going on strike. Man you nailed it with this article Mark. The NCAA needs to be the ones that are suspended. These kids are one step above slave labor while others are making millions…it is just wrong.

FO FI FREE

September 8th, 2010
6:47 pm

I THINK THEY SHOULD JAIL THE SOB………….HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAA NOW GO AND RUN THIS STATE…..

Bama Fan #2

September 8th, 2010
6:47 pm

AJ should get 2 games just like Marcell Dareus of Alabama. Just wonder if AJ told a little white
lie to the KGB and they really knew all the time want happened. Any way this sucks for the dawg
fans and AJ to.

heywood...

September 8th, 2010
6:47 pm

i like the comment i saw on another blog.

NCAA is like NASCAR. no consistency in the
rules and they both make them up as they
go along.

David

September 8th, 2010
6:48 pm

AJ is a big loss for these games, but I think UGA can certainly win them without him. When he comes back you guys are gonna be tough to beat.

Lance

September 8th, 2010
6:48 pm

RTR – if you think Julio “I wish I were AJ” Jones is better lets just wait til draft time to determine. AJ will go before him even if only playing 8 games.

Charlie Bama

September 8th, 2010
6:48 pm

The NCAA hates it when you try to hide your sins –but they aint God, if you know what i mean.

college is forever

September 8th, 2010
6:49 pm

http://www.collegelunchboxes.com It seems that the punisment exceeds the crime. We will just have to hunker down and stay strong. Go Dawgs, Beat S.C.!!!

Dawg Tired

September 8th, 2010
6:49 pm

I knew we should have hired the Alabama lawyers because of their experience in handling such cases.

Charlie Bama

September 8th, 2010
6:50 pm

And four games does seem excessive to me. Two, okay. But four? Wonder if NCAA minion ever have freebie meals/wine 7 dine? But so . . .

Art

September 8th, 2010
6:50 pm

Why is no one seeing the pattern here? This so-called team has a leadership problem. These types of things happen far infrequently when people, in this case a bunch of kids, feel like they’re part of something that’s much bigger than themselves. That said, I’m not necessarily faulting Coach Richt or his staff although leadership does start at the top… In this case, and the many others that have plagued this team’s pre-season, I think the leaders are and should be in the ranks of the players. Bottom line is players should be looking out for fellow players and waving the BS flag when things start to unravel. Where are the “player leaders” on the UGA team? And why are they not holding a few blanket parties when needed and stopping this BS? We can discuss whether or not the fine is appropriate but the bottom line is… this is a lack of leadership.

destin dawg

September 8th, 2010
6:50 pm

did you watch the Ohio refs take the high school game away from Palm Beach Dwyer. ??? in Ohio… really a screw Job… no TD when the whole pile was in the end zone !!!! just after a no TD. catch in the end zone by Dwyer.. replay shows NOT EVEN CLOSE TD not allowed

Ted Striker

September 8th, 2010
6:51 pm

And folks wonder why athletes take the money and run when they’re eligible.

David

September 8th, 2010
6:51 pm

I saw a post earlier that the possible reason AJ gets more games is because there was a discrepancy in what he initially told the investigators. Any truth to that?

Dawg Tired

September 8th, 2010
6:53 pm

How can anyone seriously justify the disparity between what Darius got (2 non-conference home games) and what AJ got (4 games total – three conference games – 2 on the road)? Surely I’m missing something here. This appears completely wacko to me.

GregKennesaw

September 8th, 2010
6:54 pm

If you want to pay players, let the NFL set up a minor league just like baseball, then these pretend students that are only in college for one reason, can go from high school straight to the minor league. Stop a lot of these arrests and such nonsense

Beast from the East

September 8th, 2010
6:54 pm

Dawg Tired,
See my post @ 6:43.

LKB

September 8th, 2010
6:54 pm

If AJ gets 4 games does this mean the SC players get 8? They knew they were dealing with agents and back door money.

Outside Observer

September 8th, 2010
6:54 pm

dbc, allowing Green to miss the games in which Georgia is incredibly favored wouldn’t really be much of a punishment at all. Is four games excessive? Maybe. Does he deserve some sort of punishment? Absolutely. He made a mistake, hopefully he will learn from it. Although if he is lying at any point during this investigation, it doesn’t bode well for him. Dez Bryant set a scary precedent for lying to the NCAA.

Dawg Tired

September 8th, 2010
6:55 pm

David – All the news media indicate AJ fully cooperated with the NCAA investigation.

DawginOH

September 8th, 2010
6:55 pm

Well said, Mark. Any idea of when we will hear the results of UGA’s appeal?

astrouga

September 8th, 2010
6:55 pm

Dawg Tired — agreed. It is unjustified. We will probably win an appeal and get it knocked down to 2 games.

StraightJacket

September 8th, 2010
6:55 pm

Worst part is that he didn’t get arrested, so Ugag get NO 2011 Fulmer Cup points for this.