Poor choices costing athletes

Much of the final game of Hamilton Southeastern’s 2010-11 boys basketball season unfolded with a bandage on the head of the Royals’ starting center.

It was an impressive display of toughness by a kid sustaining an injury early in a Class 4A regional final against North Central, getting the old noggin wrapped tight and trotting back onto the court.

No one questioned Randy Gregory’s grit or determination that March evening in Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Four years later, though, we find ourselves wondering how many floors the elevator reaches on Planet Randy. Or if there is an elevator.

In February, Gregory tested positive for marijuana at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, news that in the ensuing weeks would change his draft stock like a yo-yo stuck on overdrive.

Just like that, a top-10-caliber athlete with tremendous speed and pass-rushing instincts ends up taken by the Dallas Cowboys with the 60th overall pick.


If not for Jerry Jones’ willingness to roll the dice — think of a better-dressed, slightly less sleazy version of Al Davis with a Southern drawl — who knows how far Gregory would have dropped.

Exactly how this, over time, equates into dollars lost remains a tad foggy, but it’s millions.

Yet to pile on Gregory and Gregory alone is wrong.

The 22-year-old is by no means the lone pledge to the fraternity of gifted athletes guilty of poor judgment, timing, geography, taste in friends and basically everything else.

Just the most local.

The sense of entitlement today’s young athlete carries with him or her is mind-boggling given how technology has basically made keeping secrets and hiding missteps a thing of the past.

Last week the Cowboys were at it again, signing massive LSU offensive lineman La’el Collins, a virtual first-round lock reduced to undraftable after being questioned by Baton Rouge police following a double-homicide of a pregnant woman and her child.

Collins was never considered a suspect in the incident, but the three-year, $1.65 contract he inked is pocket change compared to the windfall he would have experienced had his name and reputation not been dragged through the mud.

Or in the case of our 22nd state, red clay.

In the spring the University of Alabama had four of its football players arrested, with two of them dismissed from the program.

Not to be outdone, bitter rival Auburn’s rap sheet from basically the same time period lists three arrests for a series of burglaries in one of the university’s residence halls.

Character flaws aren’t uncommon in sports, just publicized in more ways than ever.

Take a bow, Devin Davis. We’re talking about you.

Those fortunate enough to be part of Indiana University men’s basketball program reside under the most powerful sports microscope this state has to offer. We’re talking more than the Colts, more than the Pacers, more than Butler men’s hoops.

So what’s the Hoosiers’ junior forward do? He’s cited this week for marijuana possession.

I get that young and stupid just kind of go together and have for generations, but, seriously, people.

And while I would like to believe IU coach Tom Crean electing to suspend Davis from all team activities is going to make a difference, no one truly knows.

Soon enough Gregory will be harassing opposing quarterbacks, Collins will be pass blocking for Tony Romo, and Davis will be dropping in baseline jumpers against Big Ten Conference foes.

Back to normal. Whatever normal is these days.

Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at mbeas@dailyjournal.net.