Thursday, June 26, 2008

Marshawn's Mulligan

...so when someone asks you "do I need to draw you a picture?" in a sarcastic tone I would answer "no", particularly if they're good at drawing. Chances are they're going to draw you something very disgusting. Trust me on this one.

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Let me first disclose that I am not a completely detached observer when it comes to the alleged Marshawn Lynch alleged hit and alleged run. I must admit that I am a Bills fan. There is a possibility, albeit slight, that my views on this subject are being clouded by my allegiance to the team and to their future hall of fame running back in particular....allegedly. With that being said I do think we need to use a bit of restraint when it comes to how we judge Marshawn.

First let's hear Marshawn's side of the story. As per the report in the Buffalo News Marshawn and his passenger, rookie receiver Steve Johnson, were unaware they hit anything or anyone as it was dark, rainy and they were "distracted" by a woman walking in front of Ms. Shpeley. The reports from eye witnesses that the car never slowed down could back this up (the victim has a different account but her vision may be clouded by the dollar signs in her eyes, not to mention the impact from an SUV and a dozen cans of High Life). The players' story could also be corroborated by the fact that Marshawn made no effort to hide the SUV or clean off the nacho cheese stains on the hood. As for the distraction, here's a picture of the girl. You have to admit that would be very distracting at 3:30 in the morning.



Clearly this may capture your attention even if you weren't high, which of course no one was. I'm not even sure why I brought that up. Forget I mentioned it.


Let's assume however that Marshawn is guilty of something here. It could be nothing more than driving without his contact lenses but is most likely something more serious than that. He has, to some degree or another, made a mistake and exercised poor judgment after the fact. By no means do I want to play down what happened to Ms. Shpeley. I have a daughter, admittedly not one who would jaywalk on Chippewa wearing dark clothes at 3:30 AM in a driving rain storm, but I can still empathize somewhat with how disturbing this could be for her and her family. How then do we react? Do we, as some already have, lump Marshawn in with all the other troubled gun-toting, dog-electrocuting, wife-smacking problem athletes? In short, that seems like a bit of a stretch.

From all accounts Marshawn is not a "bad guy". He's a fun-loving kid who, like most 22 year-old instant millionaires, needs to grow up. I'm willing to give him a pass on this one indiscretion. If, in the future, we see a pattern of behaviour that indicates some more serious character issues then I'll be the first to call for him to be run out of town. For now he gets the benefit of the doubt particularly given that we're just at the beginning of the game here. Think of it like a round of golf. If you're new to the game and hit something fat, errr....out of bounds, you'd get a mulligan. That's what this is. We'll forget about that first mistake, Marshawn. Let's just try to keep it on the fairway from here on in.

Regardless of what I or other fiercely objective commentators may say this will haunt Marshawn for awhile. There is no doubt the fact that Marshawn is young, black, dreaded and grilled will play into perception here. It goes without saying that if Marshawn Lynch from Oakland was Gary Wiseborough from Elmira this incident would be viewed more in the "boys will be boys" vein. Hell, as a teenager Tom Brady killed 17 migrant workers and buried them in his family's vineyard but for some reason no one brings that up anymore. Perhaps we could afford Marshawn just an ounce of the same forgiveness in regards to his first offense.

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