#FreeGurley — and the rest of us, too

The story of Todd Gurley is the story of us.

Of course, very few of us can, or ever could, play football or any other sport as brilliantly as the recently suspended University of Georgia tailback. But many can identify with the helpless feeling when injustice is meted out by distant officials whose actions have long since sapped their credibility.

Don’t take this as a defense of Gurley if he did in fact accept money for signing autographs, in violation of NCAA rules. He surely knew that was forbidden and — again, if the allegations against him are true — deserved punishment, as much as that pains this UGA season-ticket holder to say.

Rules are rules.

But rules are also supposed to be enforced uniformly. Yet Gurley has already received more punishment (and as of this writing stood to receive still more) than Johnny Manziel, the former Texas A&M quarterback who sat out only half of one game after being accused of even more brazen rule-breaking.

Rules are supposed to be enforced competently. Yet by losing a player of Gurley’s caliber, perhaps the best in college football this season, even for one game amid a promising season, UGA arguably has been punished more harshly than the University of Miami was after a booster said he gave money to its football and basketball players for years. Why? Because the NCAA botched the Miami investigation by — wait for it — breaking its own rules for investigations.

And rules are supposed to promote some recognizable principle. Yet Gurley is being punished to preserve an antiquated view of amateurism that no longer troubles the consciences of collegiate officials who sell the TV rights to their games for hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

Rules are rules, but that alone doesn’t make them right. That fans of various teams, including Georgia’s rivals, support the #FreeGurley cause is solid evidence this NCAA rule is out of step.

Despite all this, the NCAA enjoys better approval ratings — 39 percent favorable to 37 percent unfavorable, per a Rasmussen poll this spring — than the president, Congress or, lately, the Supreme Court can muster.

Think about that. An organization alternately derided and loathed by fans and players alike garners more public approval than some of our highest public officials.

Maybe it’s because even more people have been subjected to bias, incompetence and arbitrariness by the truly powerful, or just the powerful in their lives: that police officer, that prosecutor, that regulator, that tax appraiser.

Maybe it’s because, while Gurley at least knew about the rules he was supposed to follow, the modern democratic citizen faces unprecedented scrutiny for an unknowable number of rules. This is lamented by people ranging from civil-liberties attorney Harvey Silverglate (book: “Three Felonies a Day: H0w the Feds Target the Innocent”) to the Pet Shop Boys (song: “We’re All Criminals Now”).

Maybe it’s because, despite the billions of dollars and heartfelt emotions involved, for most people the NCAA is merely the guardian of a pursuit of pleasure, not the pursuit of happiness. And a lot of people want to feel more like the pursuer, and less like the pursued.

Reader Comments 0

102 comments
Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

Either way argue they shouldn't be able to profit till the cows come home


The system IS going to change.


Tomorrow,,Next Week, Or in 10 years.


But it WILL change.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@RafeHollister 17,000 wow


And Gurley makes the University the NCAA and TV Networks  MILLIONS


Yeah...seems like a fair trade.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@RafeHollister And part of your 17,000 isn't walking around money...Its housing they are provided. You cant go to Chilis on that. 

ThulsaDoom
ThulsaDoom

@RafeHollister


Dang. That's some good research. I knew that they got a healthy sum from Pell grants. $5500 a year from that alone amounts to nearly $500 a month walking around money. And that's just the start. 

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@RafeHollister I don't think you can call that money "walking around money." Two-thirds of it is for rent and food. Not all of them will qualify for a Pell Grant, but that doesn't mean they have plenty of money from their families. I am quite certain you can't call that amount "typical."

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@HeadleyLamar @RafeHollister Had you read the text, many of the players he knew at Ark saved $1000 per month on their room and board per month, by living in cheap apts, and by doubling up, which is usual for college students anyway.  Did you have $1500 bucks a month spending money in college?

ThulsaDoom
ThulsaDoom

@HeadleyLamar @RafeHollister


Gurley doesn't make all this money all by his lonesome Hedley, He, the coaching staff, and about 169 other players on both sides in the game make the money. With or without Gurley the games would still be televised and still make money- just like last week in the UGA-Mizzou game. 

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

So how's Gurley doing academically?  

RantNRave
RantNRave

This should be a wake up call for Gurley and other players..............


"ENVY AND HATE is a snake in the grass."


BEWARE OF THE SNAKES IN THE GRASS.......THEY ARE ALL AROUND YOU!!! 



Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

Funny how all these free market let the market decide Republicans are all of a sudden perfectly capable of limiting Gurleys ability to profit from his name.


I cant think of another arena in America where a grown man is not allowed to profit from his labors.


And if these guys want to play pro ball...They have to play ball so to speak with the NCAA. Which profits handsomely from shall we say rather cheap labor. 


Its a shameful system and it will be changed. If not today then tomorrow. 

ThulsaDoom
ThulsaDoom

@HeadleyLamar


Nice try but it has nothing to do with free markets Hedley. This is still amateur sports and while Gurley certainly has a pro career waiting for him the majority of the players on that team do not. 


Gurley has every right to skip college and play pro football if they draft and allow him to do so. 


And you're forgetting the flip side to the NCAA and the university profiting from the young man playing football. The flip side is that by virtue of playing at a major college like UGA Gurley receives inordinate amount of free publicity on ESPN and other channels, education, room and board, food, elite training facilities, and professional instruction from multi million dollar coaches. You think he could pay for all that free publicity and media exposure on his own or that he could pay for expert instruction and coaching from coaches that cost millions of dollars on his own dime? There is no amount of money you can put on the worth of ESPN highlight reels and media exposure- not to mention the professional training and instruction of the coaching staff. 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@ThulsaDoom @HeadleyLamar Gurley has every right to skip college and play pro football if they draft and allow him to do so. 


Anyone saying that doesn't really understand how the system works 

ThulsaDoom
ThulsaDoom

@HeadleyLamar


I comprehend just fine how the system works. And if he doesn't like it then too bad. He can always sue the NFL because it has a policy of denying grown men the opportunity to play football until after 3 years out of high school. In that regard I would agree with you. The NFL shouldn't be able to stop a grown man from playing football if he's 1 or 2 years out of college instead of 3. But I think the courts might have already decided on that. 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@ThulsaDoom @HeadleyLamar No I don't think you do.


If you think someone can simply skip playing college ball and go straight to the NFL..Then further discussion is not possible.

ThulsaDoom
ThulsaDoom

@HeadleyLamar


Thank you for making my point for me Hedley. I'm glad that you agree that these players couldn't make it to the NFL without a few years of very expensive training from very expensive coaches using elite level facilities. I would hate to think that these players would have to pay for expert, expensive coaches, huge stadiums, television time, and media publicity all by themselves. 


You've yet to acknowledge all these vast benefits which allow these athletes to train for the millions they will then make in the NFL. 


Its a 2 way street Hedley- the schools and NCAA are making money off Gurley's talent- but Gurley is also not only getting an education that others have to pay for, but he is also getting elite level training, getting free publicity and advertising of his skills on national tv and in enormous stadiums, with none of these enormous expenses coming out of his pocket. Forgot about all that did you???

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@ThulsaDoom @HeadleyLamar Thank you for making my point for me Hedley.


Your welcome...And of course you do realize its the athletes like Gurley that make all those fancy facilities possible.

cw1960
cw1960

"Conservatives" love rules, until they don't (any rule that hinders THEM is unfair and socialist/communist).

Jefferson1776
Jefferson1776

If the cat wanted money,  he should work for it,  not expect  pay for a signature ie money for nothing,  which happens to break rules.  Not just him ANYONE.


I think college football players should be considered semi pro, get paid and school is optional.  Money is what it has become.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Jefferson1776 "he should work for it" is a fine sentiment as long as you ignore the work restrictions the NCAA places on student-athletes. Not to mention that, between classes and team commitments, there's not enough time in the day for them to work a job.

Jefferson1776
Jefferson1776

@Kyle_Wingfield If he can't work for it, maybe he could inherit it or steal it then.  Or beg.  I don't know or care about the rules,  it must be tough being famous. 

ThulsaDoom
ThulsaDoom

Ya'll also need to think about the bright spot in all this. It coulda been much worse. This coulda happened to Amari Cooper, TJ Yeldon, or Landon Collins. And that woulda been really bad.

ThulsaDoom
ThulsaDoom

@HeadleyLamar @ThulsaDoom


Alabama has an annual fan day where thousands of fans line up to receive free signed autographs and where they can have the players sign memorabilia of all sorts from helmets to jerseys, etc. Why does it not surprise me that you didn't know any of this? The difference is that the company that Gurley signed for has all the memorabilia sequenced. Couldn't figure any of this out could ya Hedley? Of course not.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@ThulsaDoom @HeadleyLamar I'm sure they do have a fan day. Most schools do.


And no way any Alabama player would ever take money for his autograph. I mean all that stuff on Ebay comes with a COA and everything


LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

ThulsaDoom
ThulsaDoom

@HeadleyLamar


Well Hedley if you can provide your evidence that Cooper has taken money for his autograph then please go ahead and provide it. Matter of fact I'll even forward the evidence to those folks in Indy on your behalf. You're welcome. Your friend, Doomy.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@ThulsaDoom @HeadleyLamar There may not be any evidence. Doesn't mean he didn't do it.


Hey Cam never got caught. and they had his Dad on tape shopping him around. 


Anyone who thinks Gurley is alone in this is being pretty naive. 

ThulsaDoom
ThulsaDoom

@HeadleyLamar


So all you have is that he may or may not have? Seriously. Heck you could apply that to just about anything Hedley. 


And no one is naive enough to think that Gurley is alone in this. He's just the only one lately whose been dumb enough to get caught. You're trying to attribute an argument that no one is making.  I'm certain there are players who've not only done the same as Gurley but also have accepted impermissible benefits in many different forms to attend certain colleges. 


Johnny manziel, Cam Newton, and on and on. Point is that Gurley has apparently been caught. 

Dusty2
Dusty2

"Teaching rules"  and "obeying rules" are causing this uproar  over Gurley?


Don't fool yourself.  It is nothing  but a shove to get Gurley out running up and down in every UGA football game. He knows it.  UGA knows it.  And everybody that can read knows it.


Let's not get too high and mighty over a football fiasco at UGA.  Football is the antithesis of academia. 



DawgDadII
DawgDadII

OK so let's say universities give players stipends. Does every player get the same amount? Will that solve the problem and keep star players from seeking more? How much is enough to curb the need and/or greed?


Let's say universities pay the players. Will the players unionize? Will legislatures and taxpayers sit still for public universities running professional sports leagues? I think not.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@DawgDadII I think you start by covering what's called the "full cost of attendance." Then I think you do things like the aforementioned autograph sessions to help athletes capitalize on the fame they've earned (which is to say, Gurley would get a larger cut of the proceeds than, say, the backup punter).

I agree, though, that there's a fine line here.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Kyle_Wingfield @DawgDadII Obviously Gurley is the draw...They don't have all those number 3 jerseys in the bookstore by accident.

And its his body and knees on the line...Think Marcus Lattimore.

As you've mentioned they restrict the kids were they CANT even get a part time job and then they wonder why this stuff happens.


If I recall correctly AJ Green sold his jersey and when asked why he said he just wanted to have money to go to the movies etc. Many times I think that is the case. They just want a bit of walking around money.


That isn't greed...I remember being 20 and in college. I was fortunate because I worked and had money if I needed it to do fun things with my friends.


But many of these kids like Gurley come from a very poor family and there is no extra money. Again not greed. That is just wanting to be a kid and have a few bucks to do something fun on the weekend. 

ThulsaDoom
ThulsaDoom

@HeadleyLamar @Kyle_Wingfield @DawgDadII


The kids that come from poor families I think get Pell grant that if I remember correctly is just cash and constitutes a lot of walking around money.. And if you need some walking around money you can always take out a student loan. Lots of other kids have to work to pay tuition, take out loans, and still have little to no "walking around" money. Furthermore, a lot of these kids, including the ones from supposedly poor backgrounds, are sporting rather expensive tattoos. If they got money for tatts then they got money to do other things. Priorities...

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@Kyle_Wingfield @DawgDadII No matter what they get, it will never satisfy them, so why start.  Human nature always prevails, if Gurley is given more money because he is a better player, some one else is going to be upset that they block for him and they get less, if he gets the same money as all others, he will be upset and want more.


It just seems like a problem for which there is no answer.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

Tiberius-Constitutionus "Meh.  He's a college football player.  Totally inconsequential."

Dusty2 " a tempest in a teapot."


What you both are missing is this:  It's about rules and following rules, and fairness of those imposing the rules. 


If the NCAA abritrarily enforces rules, who is to blame?  The rule-breakers, or the enforcers? 


If the police in your city enforce one set of rules for one set of people, and a different set of rules for a different set of people, would you speak out about it? 

If the government creates rules and then doesn't follow the same rules when enforcing them, do you see a problem? 


There is a lot more to this than just the NCAA and football. 

Aquagirl
Aquagirl

@LogicalDude Still, making Gurley the main focus of the post doesn't exactly inspire tears for many of us.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

This message may have been missed because 9/10 of the post was NCAA/football focused and 1/10 "beware" focused. 


I'd like to see the next follow-up post that expands on the 1/10th that shows how unfair our legal system is, how our laws are enforced, and why some people get away with murder and some people are locked away for 25 years for minor infractions. 

Dusty2
Dusty2

Sorry, Kyle, but this seems to me to be a tempest in a teapot.  I see nothing educational or healthy in football, especially at a university supposedly dedicated to academics. 


Aside from that, this "game" is known to cause brain damage no matter the precautions. Sometimes players  have to "sit out" a game because they have too many concussions.


Like the Romans in the arenas, the next step will be to kill the losers.  Brutal? Ah, the manhood!   But think of the money it would being in.   The fun and excitement!  Oley!

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

Think about that. An organization alternately derided and loathed by fans and players alike garners more public approval than some of our highest public officials.


This may come as a shock, but many Americans live full and productive lives without ever fretting all that much whether the governing body of the NFL's unpaid minor leaguers is especially trustworthy or not.


(But if asked, I'd just say dismantle this obviously, inherently corrupt enterprise and let people who wish to play this particular blood sport be compensated as well as they can manage to collectively bargain, would be my kneejerk response.)

Tiberius-Constitutionus
Tiberius-Constitutionus

Meh.  He's a college football player.  Totally inconsequential.  Aren't there more pressing issues our nation faces?

RichardKPE
RichardKPE

If Gurley is smart, he'll keep on signing at higher fees.


At this point, what's the NCAA going to do?  Suspend him again?  Gurley's primary goal should be to maximize his earning power in the NFL.  By sitting out games, he gets to avoid the risk of injury.  Case in point, Marcus Lattimore who still hasn't played a snap in over two years.


The only thing to bash Gurley for is his selfishness in not bringing any teammates who have NFL aspirations with him to the autograph sessions.

ThulsaDoom
ThulsaDoom

@RichardKPE


Oddly enough this is all  true. The young man has nothing left to prove and is a sure fire 1st round draft choice. The only thing that the next 6 games presents is a chance to have a career ending injury. Pro scouts already know his capabilities and this could well play out to his advantage.