Weighing in on the A.J. Green Kerfluffle

Initially, when I stated blogging, I tried to steer clear of politically charged posts. I didn’t really enjoy reading them, and didn’t feel like spending time writing them. However, this latest ridiculousness is just too much for me not to get on my soapbox (hint: you’re visiting my soapbox) and spout off a reaction.

Like many talking heads in the media, I vehemently disagree with A.J. Green’s four game suspension on the grounds that it’s a transparently selfish move by the NCAA. However, college sports’ Stalinist regime governing body had no choice but to suspend Green since he violated their rules, which he agreed to uphold when he signed a letter of intent to go to an institution of higher education for free for four years (plus room and board, plus per diem, plus gifts from the boosters).

I do not weep for A.J. Green. He’ll be fine. He’s a wildly talented receiver at one of the most popular football schools around, and he’s just getting even more exposure thanks to this situation, and no one in the NFL will view this as a character “red flag.” What’s confusing to me is why everyone is talking about the name on the back of the jersey. Yes, he sold a game-worn jersey with his name on it, which is wrong since he’s “not” getting paid to play football. Is that really the only violation he’s guilty of committing?

Consider this picture:

No celebrating bowl victories for USC this year

By that rationale, can Matt Barkley flip his game-worn jersey? USC doesn’t have names on their jerseys, obviously, so what would the problem be?

Now, somehow I doubt we’d see Barkley in the parking lot with his trunk open selling game-worns for $50, since USC doesn’t protect their own anymore. The point still stands though – is it really that big of a deal to put the player’s name on the back? Does the fact that Green’s name doesn’t appear on the jersey make the jersey an anonymous Georgia #8 jersey? Of course not. It’s the same reason you see tons of Maryland #8 jersey…because DHB is was a sweet player, and people want to wear his jersey because of that.

The issue here, obviously, isn’t preserving a player’s amateur status or anonymity. It’s just the NCAA’s way of telling everyone, “We exploit the athletes who make us billions of dollars, and there is absolutely nothing that anyone can do about it. Suck it.” Their words.

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