Josh Huff isn't excited about the prospects of playing in another Rose Bowl. Neither is De'Anthony Thomas. We were told this by a local publication this past week, and they were allegedly told so by the players themselves.
At first glance, I found such comments to offer little if any benefit to the team and their remaining goals, and in a number of ways potentially detrimental to the players who look to their elder statesmen for the leadership every team needs. After-all, a declaration of apathy regarding finishing something you arguably started working towards during Spring Practice more than six months ago, appears at first glance of throwing in the towel, and through the eyes of an underclassman taking cues from those who've "been there before;" infectious behavior capable of eroding a program from within.
However, after pumping the brakes on my knee-jerk reaction, I'm willing to understand the disappointment Huff, Thomas, and other Oregon players (and yes, I'm sure there are others who feel similarly) feel after watching their end goals disintegrate at Stanford more than two weeks ago. True, it could be manifested in better ways, and likely ways that don't create potentially cancerous material within your own locker room, and disdain by those outside of it. But I get it, and due to such am willing to accept it based on that interpretation, rather than one which results in burning the perpetrators at the stake. <[> But are you?
It's often difficult to separate one's self from emotion while in the midst of an emotional state. But while denigrating players like Huff or Thomas for speaking from the heart, you're likely doing the same they did in response to a loss, but rather in response to their response. Yes, a tangled web I just wove, but logical if you talk yourself slowly through it.
Put yourself in their shoes. You may not have acted similarly, but I think it's everyone's duty to at least explore their possible reasoning for doing so. After all, we're not perfect so why should we expect them to be. It doesn't mean not holding them accountable or showing them the potential error of their ways, just allowing them some leeway this side of perfection.
I'll admit; I don't like what they said. It's okay to think that, after all, it's human nature to experience a little – or a lot of – disappointment after such a gut-wrenching experience, but why not keep such to yourself? They've got to know how said comments are going to be portrayed and more-so how they can be twisted to represent something they're not necessarily trying to represent.
People outside the program are always looking for ways to create drama. Columnists want stories, "haters" want fodder, and opponents want motivation to do something they inherently feel unlikely to do. So why help them? Why help a columnist paint a false picture? Why help "haters" prove a false point? And why help a lesser opponent believe they're capable of something, they inherently feel incapable of? There's nothing to be gained by doing such, and a significant amount to lose if it ultimately blows-up in your face.
Which is why you don't do what Mr. Huff and Mr. Thomas did when they spoke outwardly about something, better kept to themselves.
I'm not a college football player. Nor am I a college football coach, an ex-player disenchanted by a bad experience, or incoming recruit in the midst of a process which will dictate the next four to five years of his life. All people Oregon fans are or have invested in, and all people who've been under fire recently by scribes, talking heads, and even fans that live and die with THEIR team. But I do understand the frustration of losing, the dark side of a competitive (sometimes over-competitive) personality and most importantly, the varying sides to each and every situation.
I have strong opinions, and occasionally over-react, but I'm willing to acknowledge an alternative perspective, in spite of potentially disagreeing with it. It doesn't make me right, but it allows the idea that others may not be wrong.
What do you think?