The now famous A.J. Green suspension that resulted from his selling of his game jersey thus violating NCAA rules has had me thinking in a number of different directions of late. One side of me says, "Hey, great for the Hogs and our sketchy secondary!" Another side of me says, "Arkansas needs A.J. Green on the field, so that there won't be any excuses if the Hogs should win. And our win will look better than South Carolina's win because we did it with A.J. Green there." I swing back and forth between those two. I've also swung back and forth between the NCAA is being excessively hard on this guy, when at the same time the school itself is making plenty of money off of the A.J. Green numbered jerseys, and the side of me that says the rule was in place, he knew about it, and he broke it anyway. Let him be punished. And no slap on the wrist. But I think the following letter (posted on mrsec.com) from an Erica Burns (no idea what her fan loyalties might be, but probably not Georgia) to the Washington Post in response to a Mike Wilbon column puts things, I think, in the proper prespective. And as someone who works with students who struggle to pay tuition, it struck a chord with me and one that puts me more firmly in the "Don't Cry for A.J. Green" camp. You can find it after the jump.
"Please excuse those of us who do not join Michael Wilbon in his dissatisfaction with NCAA rules regarding compensating college football players. Many of us are too busy looking for jobs while paying off our college loans.
"AJ Green, the University of Georgia player whom Mr. Wilbon wrote about, fortunately will not have such worries. Although he doesn’t get a share of the university’s profits from the sales of his jersey, Mr. Green, who is from South Carolina, will graduate with no debt thanks to a scholarship valued at about $151,784 for an out-of-state resident. And something tells me he won’t have much trouble getting a job in the NFL, either, after being the No. 4 prospect out of high school, playing for a top Division I team and having great coaches (who do you think pays those big salaries, by the way?).
"Then he can cry all the way to the bank."
A lot of students would love to be able to take the shirt off their back and profit a quick thousand dollars to help cover tuition, food, books, etc. Instead, they work and take on enormous amounts of debt to have a chance at getting a job after they graduate that will likely pay them a very small fraction of what A.J. Green stands to make once out of the college ranks. You can't blame A.J. Green for someday making what the NFL market will pay him, but you can blame him for a selfish act that he knew could cost his team down the road if discovered. Think about this: A.J. Green doesn't make those catches if there isn't a quarterback throwing him the ball, an offensive line blocking for the quarterback, and a defense who insures that his touchdowns count for something. Did anybody see A.J. Green splitting that thousand amongst his teammates? I don't think so. He wanted more than what his fellow students and teammates are getting, and now it looks like he is getting less, that is less playing time. Sounds fair to me.