Auburn running back Brad Lester has been eviscerated in the press for comments he made regarding the Tigers' final two games.
Lester’s comments were probably ill-advised—you never want to get quoted on your opponent’s locker-room bulletin board—but the press needs to get off his back.
The comments have been taken out of context by some in the media, who neglect to mention that Lester was talking about the opportunity that Auburn’s final two games against Georgia and Alabama, both traditional rivals, represent for the team:
"It's a disappointing season, but we feel like we can make up for our season by winning these last two," Lester said. "If we win these last two games, it won't be as bad."
Is anyone really ready to argue that two wins against traditional rivals could not, in some
sense at least, save what has been a terrible season for the Tigers?
The statement that has gotten far more attention in the press was the one that followed:
"I have no doubt in my mind," Lester said. "We should beat both teams by a good amount of points. I feel real good about it."
You never want to give the other team any extra motivation, but Lester wasn’t “guaranteeing victory” as has been reported in the media.
In context, Lester was talking about his own personal confidence that the Tigers could still be successful in turning the season into something positive. His phrasing was misguided, sure, but he doesn’t deserve the scorn being heaped on him.
Confidence is important when a team has struggled like Auburn has this season, and while players walk a fine line in expressing that confidence in the media, the media hasn’t portrayed Lester’s statement in that way.
Instead, the media has portrayed Lester’s statement as trash-talk, implying that Lester was in some way denigrating Georgia and Alabama, rather than taking the statement in context as an expression of confidence that the season could still be saved.
I understand that the media wants to play up the rivalries that these games represent, but this sort of journalistic pile-on to a kid’s regrettable phrasing is unnecessary and disgusting. Leave the kid alone, and let the teams settle it on the field.