Comments about ‘Utah football: Ute player makes most of his second chance after tragedy, terrible mistake’

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Published: Monday, Sept. 17 2012 7:35 p.m. MDT

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Dutchman
Murray, UT

Duckhunter,

"I highly doubt the university of utah would have taken him as a student if he had just been some guy that committed a similar crime and I hope he realizes he is being given opportunities most of the rest of us never would have been given if we'd done similar things."

From many of your previous comments over more that a year regarding the U you have left the impression that most U students have serious problems and could never be admitted to your beloved BYU. Now you seem to be saying that U students are pretty good and that the U makes exceptions for its athletes. Which is it? Do you still believe U students are less than worthy and bad in general?

terra nova
Park City, UT

The whole BYU-Utah thing is overblown. Who cares? Really!? It is a school, not a team. Both of them provide good quality education. Occasionally they play football.

Glad this kid is getting things turned around in his life. Glad he had a caring coach. We should care even if they are not promising football players. Too often, we do not.

VegasUte
Las Vegas, NV

It's too bad that there are ridiculous people who have to put their negative spin on every story regarding an opponent. I personally know several BYU players who made "mistakes" (yes - at that age they ARE mistakes), some much worse than Seni's, and the BYU coaches CORRECTLY gave them second chances because they were and are good people who are worthy of redemption. You cannot throw away a person because of a single incident, you must look at the person as a whole and decide are we better as a community, as a society, as a notion to have them free and productive rather than incarcerated. I praise coach Peck and coach Whittingham for their insight and their courage to stand up for this kid and help him become a man.

As for other people who think that the same thing does not happen to people who do not play football, you are dead wrong. These stories play out every day across this country, they just aren't publicized like they are with high profile individuals.

Go Utes! Go Seni!

guitarboy
South Jordan, UT

Amy Donaldson could have just blown off this opportunity and written about something else.

I am grateful for Viliseni "Seni" Fauonuku. I am also grateful for Amy Donaldson. I am grateful for coach Peck for enduring undeserved criticism when he does what is right. I am grateful for coach Whittingham for playing at BYU and crushing Utah all three seasons he started on defense for BYU, and for coaching at BYU, and for accepting BYU's offer to coach, then turning it down the next day to accept the UofU's offer to coach.

What a great article.

I am sorry about the death of Viliseni "Seni" Fauonuku's nephew. It hurts just to think about it. I am grateful for Viliseni "Seni" Fauonuku's example to me of what to do when you've made a mistake.

I wish I were a better person. Amy's article, and Viliseni "Seni" Fauonuku's example, make me want to be one.

teeme73
Syracuse, Utah

Stay strong son, you obviously are wise, from your life experiences, beyond your years. Use your platform to help others, and in turn you will continue to heal yourself.

Great story, we need more of these...

Go Utes!

DonO
Draper, UT

Sweet, sweet story. So glad Seni allowed it to be told. And Amy did a masterful job putting it together. Great, all the way around!

Duckhunter
Highland, UT

@dutchman

That was an incredibly weak minded reply by you, I'm incredibly embarrassed for you. But of course in this instance we know this guy committed this despicable crime and we know that utah allowed him to become a plyer on their team anyway. I have no idea about the rest of the student body but doubt other than blechen they got away withit.

@vegas ute

So you are claiming that you "personally know SEVERAL BYU players" that have committed crimes worse than armed robbery, you realize armed robbery is pointing a gun at people and threatening their lives if they do not hand over their belongings to you don't you? I not only doubt that I frankly believe that is a lie. If it is true please give us exmaples and instances of them, you can ommit the names.

Also this has nothing to do with BYU or the rivalry, this is all about one man and the crime he committed and his attempts to redeem himself. No one brought up BYU but you and when you did you attempted to claim that there are "several BYU players" that committed crimes worse than armed robbery. Absolutely pathetic.

ALLTHRTPCKS
SANDY, UT

I will come out and apologize to this young man. I had never heard the story only what the media wanted to share and namely the SI article. I was quick to say football should not even be an option for a young man that commits that type of crime. However understanding the full story my hats off to Bingham their coaching staff administration and those that stuck by Seni. And Seni I am sorry for those thoughts. What a great article, what a great young man truly inspiring. Continue down the path keep up the great work.

gdog3finally
West Jordan, Utah

I found this story to be inspirational and it brought a few tears to my eyes (which rarely happens). It gave me strength for my efforts to be a better person.

It may be true in many instances, that Seni's opportunity at at a second chance to excel in society, is not one that usually mirrors another's opportunity under the same criminal circumstances. Still, if Seni makes the best of his opportunity afforded him by coaches and football, he can give hope, and set an example to others that need strength to overcome their challenges.

Now, relative to my challenges, they are not what some may have who wind up in prison (the more extreme stuff), but I can still try and find love in my heart for some who don't overcome or are lost in prison. God himself has justice, but know that he weeps for his spiritually lost children.

It's easy to point fingers and feel above those who commit felonies or whatever. But how would you feel, and what would you say if your son found himself facing consequences of the kind of sin here in this article? Be careful to condemn.

gdog3finally
West Jordan, Utah

In response to those who think football saved Seni from jail. Okay you can go there, but Seni is blessed and has a chance to continue to improve and help others that might be given up on. But it's not just football players who get opportunities and breaks when it comes to wrong doing and consequences. How about the wealthy vs. the poor, what about the minority, what about politicians, and on and on.

The difference here to note is that Coach Peck and Coach Whittingham went to bat for Seni based on his character when it wasn't popular to do so. Utah got blasted nationally and locally for this decision to accept Seni into the football program. Remember? Didn't Duckhunter make comments last year abiut this?

Maybe the critics don't know as much as the sheep would like to believe they do. Sports Illustrated did what they did, ESPN does what they do, and my Utes and Coach Whittingham stood tall and defended Seni. Thank you for your heart and understanding of redemption. Utah can be a light and beacon for players as well.

SpaceCowboy69
Syracuse, UT

As a BYU fan, this is a great story about redemption and repentance. I am glad to see him make the most of the opportunities he has been given, and also wise coaches, Peck and Whittingham, on seeing his worth as a son of our Heavenly Father. For those of you who think he got special treatment because he is a football player and not a "skater", I think you are wrong. Colleges, universities, and high schools make exceptions all the time, but since they aren't athletes, you never hear about them. There are plenty of students who have criminal records, who have paid their debt to society and are now trying to better themselves. Another great story like this is Kyle Van Noy at BYU. He had to talk with Bronco after a high school drinking incident and had specific steps to follow to keep his scholarship. We all make mistakes. Some are just more public than others. Remember, the worth of souls is great is the sight of God. D&C18:10.

SpaceCowboy69
Syracuse, UT

As a BYU fan, this is a great story about redemption and repentance. I am glad to see him make the most of the opportunities he has been given, and also wise coaches, Peck and Whittingham, on seeing his worth as a son of our Heavenly Father. For those of you who think he got special treatment because he is a football player and not a "skater", I think you are wrong. Colleges, universities, and high schools make exceptions all the time, but since they aren't athletes, you never hear about them. There are plenty of students who have criminal records, who have paid their debt to society and are now trying to better themselves. Another great story like this is Kyle Van Noy at BYU. He had to talk with Bronco after a high school drinking incident and had specific steps to follow to keep his scholarship. We all make mistakes. Some are just more public than others. Remember, the worth of souls is great is the sight of God. D&C18:10.

gdog3finally
West Jordan, Utah

Remember the scales of justice and mercy to work together when trying to balance our views. Hopefully our views avoid judgments if we seek to condemn.

I judge for myself and my kids when I feel I have to. This means I decide on where I go and hang out, and where my kids go, and what activities they will be involved in. Hopefully those judgments will be right, but I am human and sometimes error in these judgments.

I do submit that to judge someone's character overall relative to them being a good or bad person is treading dangerously on what God warns us against, and if we do go down this road, fear that you will be judged according to that which ye judge.

Duckhunter
Highland, UT

@gdog

I doubt anyone that read this article begrudges the guy receiving a chance and some support. But at the same time any attempt to minimize what he did needs to be condemned. He did it and it is not just a "mistake".

Personally I do not believe he should have been allowed a scholarship at utah, I don't think he should have even been allowed to attend utah at the time he was allowed in. I do not believe whittingham would even care what happened to him if not that he wanted him there to play football so I'm not going to give him a bit of credit for trying to "salvage" this guy.

That said I am glad he is trying to be a better person and that part of the story was very uplifting. I don't think he should spend the rest of his life being judged solely for one thing he did but the fact is that when you do something as serious as threatening peoples lives with a gun while robbing them it takes a lot of atoneing before society as a whole should consider you to be "better". Not there yet.

Mormon Ute
Kaysville, UT

How sad that some of the you who have commented can't be big enough to simply wish this young man well after the tragedy and heartache he has gone through. Duckhunter, nobody minimized the crime he committed or even tried to. They simply saw a young man in need of help and lifting up rather than more beating down. Prison or jail time only beats you down further and obviously the judge knew this young man had people pulling for him that could help him through the probation and get him back on track. He has redeemed himself in the eyes of the law, the school, and the community. Too bad guys like you can't be big enough to forgive like the Savior would. Those who helped this young man will be rewarded for being their brother's keeper.

Sports Are Great
Salt Lake City, UT

No respect for criminals like him. Robbing someone at gunpoint is not a simple mistake and its a joke to try and blame it on a nephew's death.

Anyone who commits a serious crime and robs someone at gunpoint should spend 20 years in jail.

Duckhunter
Highland, UT

@mormon ute

Yes people did. Donaldson attmepted to minimize it in her article and multiple comments were made saying he is a "great kid" or that he is "owed an apology" for how he was portrayed. Those are absolutely ridiculous statements and they deserve to be called out.

He committed ARMED ROBBERY. He pointed a gun at several people and threatened their lives while robbing them. That is not waht "great kids" do and they are not owed apologies because their actions were reported.

Now I have not once said I begrudge the kid future opportunity, but I'm also not going to pretend he simply "made a mistake" and that he is a "great kid". I'm glad he is on the road to redemption but his crime was extremely bad, extremely serious, and not to be minimized. No matter what ones circumstances in life, and plenty of people have had to endure the death of family without going out and committing violent crimes, one has to suffer the consequences.

His consequences are public aknowledgment of his crime and he is not "owed an apology" for that. It is more than appropriate that he has to endure it.

Duckhunter
Highland, UT

@mormon ute

So where's the outpouring of support for the people he threatened and robbed? How about their trauma, caused by him? Did they get scholarships? Were they, who actually are victims, given apologetic and excusing writeups in the paper about their circumstances?

Plain and simple this guy committed a horrible crime. I'm glad he is trying to improve but painting him as a victim of circumstance and situation is ridiculous. My criticism is toward those that would seek to minimize his deeds as nothing more than the actions of a troubled youth, as if that makes them understandable.

Go ahead and wish him well, I certainly do, but don't start saying "he deserves an apology" or that he is a "great kid". Those sorts of comments are ridiculous.

Duckhunter
Highland, UT

Oh and mormon ute, I'd be very interested to see how easily you would forgive him if he had pointed the gun at yourself, or a member of your family, and threatened to kill you while robbing you. It wasn't me he robbed so there is nothing for me to forgive but my empathy is for the actual victims of his crime. I'd also be interested to see how much emnpathy you would have if he wasn't a utah football player. Are you willing to give the same pass to all violent criminals? Should we let everyone that committs armed robbery off with a slap and then tell them they are "owed an apology"? Perhaps the thing to do is to award all violent criminals college scholarships and write apologetic articles about them in the newspaper so everyone can know what really great people they really are?

Good grief.

gdog3finally
West Jordan, Utah

I don't know all the specifics. I do know I think highly of coach Peck and coach Whittingham. I also know they took flack nationally when this happened and still supported this kid. Last time I checked, Seni is a long way away from being a star player. Still, his character was something many sacrificed to save (the coaches, family, friends, and a judge).

I don't know a lot, but I doubt Duckhunter knows that much as well. It looks like there is a circumstance that is being judged at face value against a Ute (plain and simple).

It may very well be that Seni has a long way of redemption to go. I don't make that call. He also may have overcome more than some may know, and be forgiven in the lord's eyes. Again, I don't know. I do know I felt the spirit when I read this story and I shed a few tears. There I am vulnerable.

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