Brad Rock: BYU, Utah players take blame like grownups

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 19 2014 5:05 p.m. MDT

Wide receiver Devon Blackmon runs the ball during a BYU football scrimmage at BYU's LaVell Edwards Stadium, Friday, Aug. 15, 2014.

Michelle Tessier, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Even if you don’t follow politics, it’s easy to see the blizzard of blaming going on in Washington. Seldom does a politician or party say, “That’s on me. It’s entirely my fault.”

Imagine George W. Bush saying, “I increased spending and actually helped bloat the budget deficit.” Or picture Barack Obama saying, “Oops! Looks like Affordable Healthcare isn’t affordable after all. My bad.”

Which is a good reason to be impressed by a trio of local football players that recently messed up, yet quickly came clean about it. They didn’t blame the coach, the teammates, the rules, the police or the devil. They blamed themselves.

BYU’s Devon Blackmon and Jamaal Williams and Utah’s Travis Wilson are good people to have on your side in a conflict. That’s because each has done something to embarrass himself and/or his coach, or maybe just broken some team rule, yet afterward has taken full responsibility in public. Unlike politicians, they didn’t point fingers and claim it was someone else’s fault.

Williams was the first to run into trouble. The BYU running back pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of possession of alcohol by a minor in March. When another honor code/team violation occurred in the summer, rumors swirled. He appeared on the depth chart as a second-stringer at the start of fall camp, after which he volunteered to reporters that he had been suspended for the first game.

“It’s hard. I ain’t excited about it. I’ll do it, though,” Williams said. “I’ll do what I have to do to get back on the field. I’m doing whatever I can for the team right now.”

He added that he was angry with himself.

“I don’t like it. I want to play. I want to show them I’ll do anything to get back on the field. But right now I’m missing the (first) game. It’s hard, but it’s all my doing. I chose to come here. I have to follow the rules like everybody else. I wasn’t listening.”

Although Mendenhall said he would have preferred to keep the issue in-house, Williams sang like a freed canary — a humorous one at that — saying he would henceforth spend his free time at a roller-skating rink.

Blackmon didn’t hold an impromptu press conference but instead announced via Twitter that he was missing a game for an apparent violation of the dress code.

“Rules are rules. Abide by them or suffer the consequences … Looking forward to the Texas game,” he tweeted. In subsequent tweets he said, “We have team standards, and there’s consequences if you don’t follow them, I shouldn’t wear earrings. But I’ll bounce back.”

He added, “I’m feeling so good right now … like at peace for some reason …”

Apparently the truth has set him free.

Wilson was cited and released on suspicion of underage alcohol possession/consumption at a Tim McGraw concert in July. Beer at a cowboy concert seems pretty standard, but it’s still against the law when you’re 20 in Utah.

“It’s not who I am. It was not a smart decision on my part,” Wilson told the Deseret News on Aug. 4. “It’s something I know will never come up again and I’ll make sure of that. It’s just something that shouldn’t have happened.”

The coaches couldn’t agree more.

Boys will be boys, but sometimes men will be men and they’ll take the consequences. All too often athletes act defensive, excuse themselves or offer flimsy alibis (see Jameis Winston’s crab legs caper). None of the local incidents was something the coaches wanted, and in the cases of Williams and Blackmon, it’s doubtful Mendenhall wanted his players ratting out themselves. Still, it’s hard not to appreciate all three players. Not because they admitted imperfection, but because they wanted so badly to correct the indiscretions that they hung out their laundry and folded it when finished.

If this happened in Washington, there wouldn’t be a financial crisis.

Email: rock@desnews.com; Twitter: @therockmonster; Blog: Rockmonster Unplugged

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