After writing most of this post over the weekend following all the non-sense on Facebook, I decided to sit on it to see if I still felt the same way in light of Cornelius Washington's apology. I do.
Here we are with another kerfuffle between players and fans. The R&B has the gory details (link removed, but easily searchable).
First, the fan's response is over the top, blatantly rude, and dead on point. I don't think there is a single Georgia fan out there that didn't think some or most of the same things. Does that make him the more right person here? No, of course not. I don't think Washington ever meant that Crowell shouldn't face consequences. He did express frustration that folks were (rightly or wrongly) using some pretty harsh language to describe Crowell instead of hurting for Crowell and what he did to his life.
Washington was right, too. There are plenty of Georgia fans that don't see these kids as anything more than numbers on jerseys. There is no other explanation for the booing. There is no other explanation for the words you read on various online fora. There just isn't. Where Washington missed the boat is that saying the team doesn't need the fans for survival. He is dead wrong there.
I'd say there are plenty of fans, myself included, that view these players as integral parts of the community I proudly belong to. They represent that community the same way I do. Actually, they do so in a much more visible manner than I do. It is my personal belief that Cornelius Washington was blowing off steam over the heat he picked up last year for his drive through Commerce. I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt (in the same way I did for Crowell and countless others) because of the way he handled himself post arrest. He served his suspension, still showed up and worked his tail off despite losing playing time, and didn't belly ache about it.
I'm willing to forgive youth being youth, especially when it is words. As for the fans that only view these players a jerseys on a football field, well, I don't have much to add to that other than saying that I believe there are far more fans that think the way I do than there are that think the other way.
Now, do we have team chemistry issues? I don't think so. If...IF...the rumors about Crowell being a distraction are true, despite how much he might have been liked, his being shown the door helped. If they aren't true and the team is 'banding' together around this episode, then great. Anything to get them pulling the oars in the same direction. There are probably a few more issues that will arise due to the trip to the club on June 28th, but one issue we won't have is coaches having to constantly answer questions about Crowell's toughness/dedication/readiness or players having to defend those things.
From what I am hearing the team chemistry is better now than at anytime in the past five or six seasons. Take it with a grain of salt, since I am getting that third hand.
And good for Cornelius Washington apologizing. You can be cynical or sarcastic all you want. Owning up is something we don't see enough of out of grown ass men. Next time you knock a 22 year old for being a 22 year old, you have to also give props when he acts like a man. The fan that responded made that point, as well, something I was glad to see.