How many times can are we left scratching our heads as we read headlines and wonder, "What was he thinking?!" The string of arrests that made it to not just the front page of the Sports Section of local newspaper in Eugene, OR or the Front Page of the newspaper but they were also the talk of national radio and featured on ESPN's Outside the Lines.
With so much focus on University of Oregon's Head Coach Chip Kelly's response to a few rogue athlete's actions much has been forgotten about the person's activities that may have led their team down this road: Jeremiah Masoli. Whatever message was sent by Kelly was delivered emphatically by Masoli.
In no other sport is so much of the team's future on the field put on the back of one player like the quarterback. Their instantaneous decision-making on the field ultimately defines them as a great quarterback or as just another great athlete. But a great QB can't just be throw and run any more, he has to lead his team off the field as well.
Case in point, is the now-notorious procession of Oregon Football Players stepping up for mug shots...led by one Jeremiah Masoli. With Kelly's high-flying spread offense, Masoli led the Ducks to the Rose Bowl on January 1st. He led them to Pasadena not only with his arms and legs, but also with his head. Just a few weeks later he led many of the players down to the county jail.
On the night of January 24th Masoli and receiver, Garrett Embry stole electronic equipment from a university fraternity house, police reports allege. Though this was a mere brush with the law it wasn't his first time inside a police station.
While in high school in 2005, Masoli pleaded guilty to a series of strong-armed bus stop robberies in and around San Mateo, California. The all-league quarterback and team captain then spent spent three months inside Hillcrest Juvenile Hall in San Mateo, California.
On the other hand, up in Seattle, there's Jake Locker. A model student, player and leader on and off the gridiron, Locker clearly understands how his teammates follow his model. Through a series of personal commitments Locker's message is clear: Win at life. Like Masoli one can figure out the person who he is today by looking at his past.
Though Locker's community awareness predates his college days, much has been made of his shaved head back in 2007. As a Red Shirt Freshman, the Husky QB led a group of 50 people by shaving his head in support of a cancer victims, in particular a family friend, Chelsey Ebert. His hair was donated to Locks of Love, a public non-profit chaity that provides real human hair to financially disadvantaged children suffering from medical hair-loss.
Though he keeps much of his charitable activities private he is known to spend his personal time with those suffering from cancer. Locker says that any time he can give back to the community he takes advantage of it.
He has even donated his time to raising money for cancer research. Through the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity at the University of Washington he helped raise over $1,000 for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. He arrived early enough to give attendees the opportunity of autographs and picture taking.
That is quite different than the picture taking the Oregon Ducks football team is experiencing these days.