It’s hard to build a cohesive team and remain consistent on the football field when off it, trouble is what surrounds your star player. For Texas Christian University head coach Gary Patterson, that is exactly what he has to deal with.
TCU defensive end Devonte Fields is currently a suspect in a domestic disturbance that occurred Sunday morning, July 20, in Fort Worth, Texas. Two days later, TCU suspended the redshirt sophomore pending the findings of the police investigation. Based on the Fort Worth police report, Fields’ ex-girlfriend, Haley Brown, accused him of punching “her in the face one time with a closed fist.”
That is not something you want to hear if you are Patterson. Not only does it look bad for Fields, it extends beyond the individual. The incident sheds negative light on the university as a whole, on the leadership Fields is under at TCU, and leaves a dark film surrounding the football program.
Results of the investigation are still pending so nothing is final. But if he is forced to stay away from the Horned Frogs, a huge void is left on the defensive line. Heading into 2014, Fields was named the Preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. In 2012, he was named Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year and the AP Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. That phenomenal season for Fields saw him rack up 53 tackles and a TCU record 10 sacks as a true freshman. Suspension and injury led him to redshirt last year.
But Fields is not the only player to have a dark cloud over him. Keeping things on the college level, University of Oklahoma freshman running back Joe Mixon is under investigation for alleged assault (suspended). In early June, two Brown University football players were at the center of a rape investigation in Rhode Island. Meanwhile, just last week Thursday, University of Texas wide receivers Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander were suspended indefinitely after being arrested and charged with sexual assault. Even though they were only hit with a suspension, that same afternoon the player’s names had been deleted from UT’s online football roster.
On the NFL level, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was hit with a two game suspension to start the 2014 regular season for a physical altercation with his now-wife, Janay Palmer, during the offseason. And then he shows up at training camp this week and gets cheered by Ravens fans.
Football is football. It’s the greatest sport to watch. But it’s starting to lose some of its shine. All the arrests and off-the-field issues have garnered attention as if the players are a member of the Kardashian clan.
In all seriousness, someone needs to step up and take charge of a nationwide “player conduct seminar,” because whatever system is currently in place simply is not getting the job done.
Football is fun. Yes. But should it really overshadow the wrongful actions of the players that enjoy the game, and for some that even call it a job? Not in my eyes. Whatever Fields’ fate is, I think he should be removed from the TCU roster. Patterson needs to send a message to his team, and the college football world as a whole, that this is not how student-athletes should conduct themselves. His impressive statistics do not outweigh who he is and what he does as a person off the football field.
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