Redemption and Consequences
Other schools - one in particular – have made a mint by allowing troubled athletes, after an exile in junior college, to return to major college football and play out their dreams.
On one hand, I have no problem with this. Human beings make mistakes all the time and as Nick Saban has said:
“Some people learn by words, some people learn by consequences, some people can’t learn.”
Second chances aren’t always a given, and after a lesson has been learned, there’s nothing like being redeemed and given a second chance.
As a formerly Christian nation, this process has been very important to the development of the United States of America. We fall, we make mistakes, we are broken and then we are pointed to Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, and then we are forgiven and set free.
Through our redemption, we learn how to live our lives for the glory of God, point others to Him and demonstrate the grace and mercy shown to us to others.
Now, usually, I defer to Saban’s judgment on most everything football related. He’s the best coach in college football and he has a plan and a process to not only create winning football teams, but also to develop young men into successful human beings.
One example that comes to mind is Rolando McClain, the troubled linebacker from Decatur that was recruited to ‘Bama by Mike Shula, but played for three years under Saban.
Life after the Captsone wasn’t so great for McClain, his anger and rage fueled him right out of the NFL. But under Saban at Alabama, he thrived in the discipline of the process – not without flaw, of course, but in a way where his energy and passion was channeled into becoming perhaps the best linebacker in college football by the end of the 2009 season and he was also an incredible leader. Remember, he was often referred to as another coach on the field?
Well, that all brings us to D.J. Pettway.
Pettway was a highly recruited defensive linemen out of Pensacola that signed with the Tide, redshirted the 2011 season and played as a back up in 2012. But early 2013, Pettway and three other former Tiders decided to have a little fun:
On Feb. 11, Hayes, 18, Williams, 20, and Pettway, 20, were each charged with two counts of second-degree robbery while Calloway 20, was charged with one count of fraudulent use of a credit card.
Williams, who was also charged with fraudulent use of a credit card, was arrested one day earlier on a separate gun charge.
According to arrest warrants, Pettway, Williams and Hayes attacked and robbed two UA students in two separate incidents. The trio came away with a laptop, cash, a UA student action card and various credit and debit cards. Calloway and Williams each used the action card to purchase snacks from a Bryant Hall vending machine.
Hayes and Williams confessed to the robberies and Calloway confessed to using the card with knowledge that it had been stolen.
Saban hit the eject button on these four and the process continued.
Pettway, meanwhile, enrolled in East Mississippi Junior College and had a great season for the eventual NJCAA national champions:
He landed at East Mississippi, a junior-college powerhouse with a history of placing players into the SEC.
Pettway immediately worked his way into the starting lineup at EMCC, totaling 11.5 sacks on a defensive front that also features recent Crimson Tide commit Jarran Reed.
That sounds great, right?
Not really. Take a look at what has been published about these two robberies. Here are a few excerpts from an article published in The Crimson White:
When Samuel Jurgens woke up on a sidewalk outside of Paty Hall shortly before 1 a.m. Monday morning, he thought he was dreaming. His face was numb, his headphones lay nearby, bloodied and broken, and he didn’t recognize where he was. His backpack, containing clothes, books and his Apple Macbook Pro, was gone.
“His left side of his face was gigantic,” Burks said. “The jacket he was wearing and his headphones were completely drenched in blood, the bottom half of his face was completely covered in blood; he was bleeding badly from his lip. He had clearly been badly beaten.”
According to arrest records, Tyler Hayes and Eddie Williams admitted to robbing Jurgens near Paty Hall, and Dennis Pettway “aided and perpetrated” the robbery.
Hayes also admitted to standing by moments later along with Pettway while Williams assaulted UA student Caleb Paul in the MIB parking lot on campus.
Williams admitted he struck and knocked both men unconscious. Arrest records do not indicate whether Pettway admitted to the crimes.
Jurgens still cannot recall specifics from the attack itself, but remembers the moments leading up to it. Walking from Blount toward his home on Hackberry Lane, he was listening to music when he heard someone ask him a question.
As he pulled his headphones off his ears, Jurgens saw someone approach from his left and ask if he had a lighter.
Jurgens replied that he didn’t and replaced his headphones before hearing the man ask again. He replied the same and turned to walk away.
“That’s when I guess something happened,” he said. “I woke up, my face was swollen, I had cuts, and I had a concussion. Police say that’s probably when they hit me; I just know right after that I lost consciousness and I regained consciousness on the sidewalk, staring at the sky.”
“He just was very nonchalant and asked for a light,” Jurgens said.
Jurgens’ headphones were completely shattered on the left side, the same side of his face that was swollen and lacerated.
“We thought it must have been an object [that broke the headphones], but when we got a look at the guys who were arrested, it could have very well been their fists; they were huge,” Richardson said.
According to arrest records, Williams knocked both men unconscious in the respective attacks.
Though Jurgens was released from the hospital several hours after his attack, he considers his injuries quite severe.
“They [his injuries] were shocking; they’re something I’m still recovering from,” he said. “From what I’ve been told by the police of what they did to me, it could be much worse. I don’t have any hernia in my eyes, which my doctor was concerned about. Considering how athletic and strong they are, it could be a lot worse.”
When asked if he believed his attackers used excessive force during the assault, Jurgens said he “definitely thinks so.”
“The police report doesn’t say that they just punched me and robbed me,” he said. “They punched me, they kicked me in my back, in my ribs. I would definitely classify it as excessive.”
“It’s almost like they were doing it for fun, because it seemed weird that they didn’t rob me of my wallet or phone or keys,” he said. “But, I just know they sure did an efficient job because I can’t recall parts of it even today.”
It doesn’t take much of an imagination to recreate these events. One of the players distracted the two victims and Eddie Williams knocked the **** out of them. As Jurgens says, “almost like they were doing it for fun.”
Now, for sure, I don’t know all of the specifics of this case. Jurgens nearly had his head knocked off, so perhaps he doesn’t even know what happened. However, Williams did admit to committing both crimes, so I think we are somewhere in the right ballpark here.
If these crimes happened the way Jurgens has described, it would be hard for me to allow Pettway back on Alabama’s team or as a student at the University. I know that sounds harsh, especially coming from someone who has made a ton of mistakes, but I just don’t see how this happens.
Perhaps the only way I could see this happening is if Pettway sought Jurgens’ (and the other victim’s) forgiveness and if they agreed that it was appropriate for him to be back on campus.
I really do wish the best for Pettway. But that best may not need to be at Alabama.