Howe: Douglas, Bowman Deserve Another Chance

Word came down on Monday that wide receivers Dominique Douglas and Anthony Bowman would be suspended from the Iowa football team indefinitely. The sophomores were charged Sunday with unauthorized use of credit cards. HN Columnist Rob Howe makes a case for the accused to remain with the team even if convicted. Read his opinion in this free column.

"He had a good spring on the field. I was more concerned with what his focus was academically. I didn't want to talk about it much in the spring, but I'm happy to talk about it now. He really knuckled down and demonstrated that it's important to him to be the kind of football player and the kind of student he needs to be. That was very encouraging. To me, he showed a maturity level that I wasn't quite sure was there. I think he's seeing the whole picture, more than just the football part."

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz uttered those words about his star wide receiver Dominique Douglas Aug. 1 in Chicago.

Apparently the picture wasn't quite made clear enough for Double D. Dougie Fresh seems to have shown rotten judgment. He and fellow sophomore wideout Anthony Bowman were charged with unauthorized use of credit cards on Sunday.

As expected, Hawkeye Nation is losing its collective mind. Its outraged at the perceived stupidity and most people felt like the boys should be booted from the team if the charges hold up.

Is this a serious situation? Most definitely, it's a felony. If true, they violated other students without regard.

Should they be kicked off of the team? I don't believe so.

I could be swayed the other way should more information surface saying these guys were guilty of other crimes. But based on the information out there now, they should be given another chance even if convicted of the current charges.

These guys allegedly screwed up royally. If guilty, they should be punished…severely…but no dismissed.

We could argue back and forth on where this crime falls in compared to other infractions, such as operating while intoxicated. Personally, I don't feel that big a gap exists between the two charges, but that's me.

I will acknowledge that Douglas and Bowman allegedly committed a crime that was premeditated. But is it really that much worse than someone driving to the Ped Mall on a Friday night to drink knowing full well that he's going to get back behind the wheel when he's done?

My main platform for giving these guys another chance is measuring their alleged crime against charges like OWI. Ferentz determines that these offenses elicit a one-game suspension. If driving a big, metal machine around under the influence means missing a single contest, no way does unauthorized use of credit cards deserve expulsion from the team or school.

If these guys showed a history of questionable or criminal behavior, I'd say to let them go. As much as it pained me to see Benny Sapp go, a trend existed of him walking on the edge. He needed to go.

I hope, I really hope, that people stop calling these guys thugs or gangstas or passing judgment on them based on some photos on a website with them showing off bling. It's not an indictment of their behavior or tendencies.

I wore Jimi Hendrix and Doors T-shirts when I was in high school and college. It didn't make me an LSD dropping stoner. I enjoyed the music and it was a statement. Some of you guys have turned into your parents.

I know some people will use Pierre Pierce as an example of what happens when guys get a second chance. Not even in the same discussion. Within the football program, there are great examples of boys who became men.

Mo Brown and C.J. Jones were afforded a second chance by Ferentz and made good. What would have happened if the coach told Bob Sanders to take a walk after being tagged for an OWI in May of 2002.

Sam Aiello beat up his quarterback over a cable bill and then pummeled a dude in the face with a pool que on a downtown bar. Ferentz punished him, but he was given the chance to grow up and learn from his mistake without having his first love taken away. When Sam finished up, he was a real engaging young man.

But I think my best example of a guy allowed an opportunity to learn from a transgression was Derreck Robinson. D-Rob was found guilty of possession of a controlled substance and took a deferred judgment on an OWI during the same incident.

D-Rob admitted he was lost at that point. But Coach Ferentz disciplined him and helped redirect his defensive lineman's focus. Robinson concentrated on his artistic talent and aptitude on the gridiron.

Robinson now chases down quarterbacks for the San Diego Chargers. Maybe he would be driving a cab had he not gotten another chance.

Kirk Ferentz coaches football. He also plays a large role in teaching lessons to these guys that he brings to Iowa City from all over the country. If he feels like he has a chance send these kids away better than they came in, why not let him?

Sure it's a privilege to play for the Hawkeyes. Most of us would give years off of our life to hear the roar of the crowd as we ran out of the Kinnick tunnel just once.

But that doesn't figure into the decision here. These guys give a lot back to the university for that free education.

Besides, the coach has already determined that drinking and driving is a one game penalty. To me, that has always been a very serious offense.

If guilty, pick your suspension – three games, half the season, whatever. But give them the opportunity to turn this negative story into a positive. It would be great to write a feature three years from now chronicling Douglas and Bowman rebounding from a mistake. I hope I get a chance.

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