We all do stupid things, especially when we are young and finding our way. Most of us, however, are not star football players at a headline-topping university. For that, we should be grateful.
Yesterday, news broke that Oregon wide receiver, Darren Carrington had failed a drug test and would miss not only Monday’s National Championship but the first half of next season as well, a mandatory NCAA consequence for the use of recreational drugs.
With an already depleted Oregon receivers unit facing the biggest game of the year, Carrington’s suspension could not have come at a worse time. With so much on the line and fan excitement at an all-time high, comments and opinions flooded social media. While many focused on Carrington’s personal growth and the team continuing with its “Next Man Up” mantra, some bashed Carrington’s character and called him names, seeming to forget that he is in fact still human- still young and finding his way.
Let me be clear. Regardless of one’s political stance on recreational drug use, the rules are the rules. Student-athletes are well-versed on the expectations and consequences of any banned drug use while playing in the NCAA. They sign the dotted line and agree to abide by the strict drug-use policies. Unfortunately, Carrington decided to take a risk and will now face the consequences. Are those consequences a bit excessive, especially when comparing to actions of other NCAA players like those of Florida State quarterback, Jameis Winston? Probably. But at the end of the day, the rules and the consequences are what they are and Carrington’s suspension is therefore fair.
That being said, Carrington does not deserve the media bashing he’s received. He’s not an idiot. He’s not selfish. He’s a smart, outgoing and respectful guy who simply made a mistake at a very bad time- a mistake that happened to make national headlines and carry greater consequences that he, and only he, can really understand right now.
On Monday, the Ducks will carry on as they have all season, hopefully winning the day and defeating the Buckeye’s. Of course, Carrington’s unfortunate absence on the field will be felt by his team, but as has become signature Oregon Football culture this season, they will face yet another dose of adversity and grow through it.
Chances are, Carrington will do the same.