My Dad taught me many things growing up. He taught me how to shoot a lay-up. He taught me how to throw a spiral. He taught me how to walk with confidence.
He also taught me thousands of little life lessons that a parent imparts on a child during their time in the nest. Of these, one in particular has always stood out to me.
He would say, "It's okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them. The trick is to learn from the little mistakes so that you can try an avoid the big ones."
Pretty sound advice if you ask me.
I relate this quote to my friends and family, as well as to those people in the public eye who, by virtue of my interest in what they do, are a part of my life.
When I saw LeGarrette Blount after the Boise State game punching a player before nearly heading into the stands ala Ron Artest, this quote immediately popped into my mind. I thought to myself, "That guy just made a big mistake."
Rumors swirled that night, and the next day, as to what his punishment would be, and how long he would be suspended.
When the verdict came down that he would be suspended for the rest of the season, one was hard-pressed to find anyone who really disagreed with that ruling.
After all, we can't have collegiate athletes showing blatant disregard for sportsmanship, and common decency...especially on national television, right?
After seeing that happen, combined with the subsequent loss that Oregon had suffered, I thought the Ducks' season would be a forgettable one.
It has been anything but, however.
Before dropping a high-scoring, intense battle with highly talented Stanford last weekend, Oregon had rattled off seven straight victories, including a mammoth 47-20 demolishing of hated USC.
By anyone's standards, the Ducks are a very good team with enough playmakers on both sides of the ball to compete with anyone.
Today's announcement that Blount will rejoin the team should be met with the understanding that he will not resume his role as a featured back.
In fact, it is likely that he will remain the team's fourth, or fifth running back, which is where he has been practicing.
Freshman, LaMichael James has been explosive, consistent, and everything the Ducks could have wanted in a feature running back. Blount's reinstatement will in no way jeopardize his starting spot.
I've already said that I think Oregon coach Chip Kelly should garner strong consideration for coach of the year honors. This most recent move only adds to my belief.
As a college head coach, you are charged with the responsibility of not just coaching a football team, but of helping to teach, and guide young men on their path towards adulthood.
Kelly said that he had put in place strict academic, and behavioral standards that Blout would have to meet if he wanted to rejoin the team. His reinstatement should show that, at least in Kelly's eyes, Blount has met these standards.
This is not the case of a Pacman Jones, or a Michael Vick.
This was a college kid making a huge, serious mistake in the heat of the moment, but working hard to atone for it, and move on.
Maybe it's just the sentimental side of me, but I would hate to see anyone have a two-minute time span affect the rest of their life so negatively.
The fact that the team does not need Blount to produce on the field should also be an indication that he has worked hard, and is a changed man. If the team had hastily reinstated him because they needed his talent, it would be fair for one to raise an eyebrow. As it stands, I would be shocked if Blount were to receive more than 10 carries a game. As a result, Oregon the football team, stands to gain very little from Blount's reinstatement.
If Blount blows this opportunity, then it will be fair to cut ties with him, and wish him well in his life's endeavors. However, if he is able to embrace this opportunity, it could do him a world of good. Both in his football career, and his personal life.
I also like the precedent that Kelly has set for other players with similar issues. It is hard for me to think of a situation where a player deserved a suspension for an action more than Blount did. However, the fact that Kelly didn't just give up on his player, and took an active role in his rehabilitation shows class on his part.
If Blount is able to return to the team, and the field, and play football the right way, then I think this will be a great success; not just for the University of Oregon, but for all of college football.
It makes me wonder why Dez Bryant is still sidelined while his Oklahoma State teammates line up to play every week...but that's another matter completely.
If nothing else, Chip Kelly has given LeGarrette Blount a second chance. Something so many of us rarely get in life. Given the circumstances, I think it was the right thing to do, and we can only hope that other coaches see this as an example.
Chip Kelly, my hat is off to you.
LeGarrette Blount, don't make your coach regret this.