Keep Your Sorries

Today, the news broke that Florida QB standout Will Grier will miss at least the rest of the season after popping positive for an NCAA banned substance. As is predictable, people are crawling out of the woodwork to pat themselves on the back about “calling this when he put on all that weight.” Let’s ignore these idiots and gain some perspective, shall we? This will likely be a short post.

Editor’s Note: at the time of writing, limited details are available about the suspension, positive test, or supplement. I’ve included what I can find, but more will be known over the next few days.

Update: reports forthcoming that Ligandrol was not the substance Grier tested positive for, no word yet on what the actual culprit was.

Grier popped positive for taking a banned substance on the NCAA’s list, which is longer and more extensive than professional banned substance lists. The supplement he is accused of taking is Ligandrol, which is a non-steroidal steroid alternative called a SARM. It’s very banned. Additionally, Ligandrol is difficult to find, and seemingly impossible to acquire OTC, as purported by Grier. It can be ordered online, but it’s marked up as “not for human consumption” which is likely a device to get these fly by night supplement companies off the hook for making a market in a controlled substance.

Moreover, for the time being, let’s take McElwain and his staff at their words, and believe that Grier was the only person with knowledge of this. Doesn’t that create a slew of other issues? If Grier took this supplement, one he claimed he didn’t know was banned, and then concealed it from his coaches, doesn’t that smack as evidence of wrongdoing? Doesn’t that say to you that he knew he was doing something he wasn’t supposed to be doing and didn’t want to get caught? Maybe he asked the nutrition staff about it, and they told him that it was illegal, but he just took it anyway. No matter how he arrived at the conclusion to take the substance, it would seem that he arrived at it not by mistake, but by design.

I watched his portion of the press conference. I believe he’s genuinely sorry. I believe he may very well bounce back from this next year. I even feel bad for him because he’s a kid in a world that’s really too big for him. But, I am rebuffing the idea that this isn’t his fault and that he’s a victim of circumstance. Will Grier as a person deserves compassion and a chance to right wrongs, that is certain. Will Grier as the embodiment of Big Football in a major college program deserves every last bit of scorn. It’s like the old adage for cockroaches, for every one you see, there are 100 you don’t. Will Grier is not the only NCAA athlete taking Ligandrol. He is not the only NCAA athlete walking the razor’s edge.

He is a kid, under immense pressure, who made the decision to cheat. As a cheater, he deserves the consequences of getting caught for cheating. And all the other athletes who are suspended and dismissed for cause or for “violations of team rules” usually deserve the brunt of their punishments as well. The problem is that every major football program could be slapped with a violation for lack of institutional control. The pressure to win at all costs is so great that we don’t take the time to think about the toll or the human capital costs of this mindset. The pressure to cheat and gain any edge imaginable has never been greater. The pressure to overlook a player’s checkered past because he can contribute to the goal of winning has never been higher. Coaches with questionable scruples and morals have been given a pass because as Lombardi said, “Winning isn’t everything. It is the only thing.”

I’m sick of the sorries, the I’ll do betters, and the pleas of ignorance. Sick of the arrogance and the entitlement. Sick of punishments that weigh a player’s value before making a decision.

Stop the special pleading, and the appeals to emotion. Stop the madness!

Just do better.

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