The deadbolt of privacy surrounding details of the Juron Criner situation is seemingly unbreakable by modern media standards.
For those that don't already know, on June 26, Arizona Daily Star columnist Greg Hansen wrote the following in the Hansen Sunday Notebook (a weekly absolute must-read for followers of all things University of Arizona/Southern Arizona sports):
“(Ka'Deem) Carey's availability somewhat offsets concerns that All-Pac-10 receiver Juron Criner might not be available for training camp in August. Criner's status for the 2011 season remains uncertain because of undisclosed medical reasons.”
Somewhat buried in a story about freshman-to-be running back Ka'Deem Carey (a potential star who did not get nearly enough national love) was that two-line stunner that briefly set off panic among the Arizona message boards.
For the next three days, the story was hot, but there was absolutely no official word from anyone. No local or national news outlet had anything at all in the way of specifics.
Here's what Anthony Gimino of the Tucson Citizen said of the scene on June 29:
“The Sunday notebook, which is held back from azstarnet.com as a print exclusive for a couple of days, hit the internet Tuesday (June 28)… and then went fully viral Wednesday after a mention in Jon Wilner's College Hotline blog at the San Jose Mercury News. Bruce Feldman of ESPN.com tweeted about it. USA Today and CBSSports.com, among others, re-purposed the same information about Criner’s uncertain status.”
On June 30, NBC Phoenix-area sports anchor Bruce Cooper blogged the following on The Arizona Republic's site, providing un-sourced (but meatier) notes on Criner's plot:
“University of Arizona standout receiver, Juron Criner, does NOT have cancer of any kind. There are rumors and message board posts suggesting otherwise. Criner has a very ill close family member. I am not sure of the nature of the illness, only that it is serious. Cancer? Could be. A little over two weeks ago Criner experienced a very erratic episode. He was hospitalized while undergoing neurological testing. Could his erratic behavior been a result of the overwhelming news about his close family member? Or could there be something deeper and more serious that caused him to require hospitalization and testing?”
Once again, a lot of questions but no real answers.
Nearly two weeks later, without a shred of new info on what actually is ailing the All-American caliber senior, the frenzy seems to have come to a near-complete halt.
And that's the way it should be.
The rumors are out there to be found about what could possibly cost Criner, an athletic, soft-handed 6'4” Las Vegas native who is already considered by many to be the most complete in the history of the program, his last year of eligibility.
You're a Google away from rehashing them all for no reason.
They're all meaningless anyway, until we hear from an on-the-record source or Criner himself.
It is the uncommon respect for privacy that makes this story interesting .
A strange level of journalistic sensitivity is being practiced around this situation, with the closest media sources to the program (Arizona Daily Star, Tucson Citizen) opting not to stir up the specifics.
There is only a vague notion of something plaguing Arizona's top NFL prospect, along with no comment from the Arizona athletic department. And none of Criner's confidants are leaking anything.
That rarely happens anymore. It is refreshing to think that the most personal matters can still stay personal matters until that person is prepared to make them public.
This ordeal is not likely to stay shrouded in secrecy forever, though, particularly if Criner harbors NFL aspirations.
The ins and outs of his entire life will be dissected at that time.
But at this point, as a college senior, Criner is being given the space to deal with whatever is the root cause without the drama being played out on the Internet or in the newspapers.
Real life is taking its fitting-but-rare place over football.
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