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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Keep pack mentality on the field

BATON ROUGE - Charges are expected to be dropped Monday against LSU linebacker Derrick Odom as LSU student Austin Gaffney and his father Steve Gaffney of Baton Rouge are considering not pressing charges.

Odom was arrested and jailed Thursday for his violent actions in the wee hours of the morning of Saturday, July 28 outside Austin Gaffney's apartment near the LSU campus.

According to Baton Rouge Police, Austin Gaffney and a member or members of the LSU football team got into a disagreement. Later, Odom and several other LSU football players came calling on Gaffney, who fearing retaliation had already called his father Steve Gaffney.

"I'm here to kick someone's (expletive deleted)," Odom yelled at the Gaffneys, according to the arrest warrant. "If you don't get one of them out here, I'll kick your (expletive deleted)."

Odom, a deep reserve at linebacker to put it delicately, has kicked very few (expletive deleted) on the football field since he got to LSU, so maybe he wanted to see what it felt like.

It is unclear what Austin Gaffney did to incite such team unity on behalf of the LSU football team. Maybe his behavior should be questioned. Maybe this is why Steve Gaffney is considering dropping the charges. The Gaffneys and LSU officials have been discussing dropping the charges for some time now. They didn't just decide to perhaps drop the charges in recent days.

The Gaffneys should not drop the charges. And LSU coach Les Miles, who suspended Odom after the arrest, should not lift that suspension just because someone, for whatever reason, decided to drop the charges.

Odom needs to be punished. And so do some other LSU football players who watched as he threw himself into the door of Gaffney's apartment, threatened the Gaffneys and damaged Austin Gaffney's automobile.

This is pack behavior and it should not be tolerated.

Maybe Gaffney started it. Who knows? But Gaffney didn't get arrested. Police usually don't go around arresting just anyone. You usually have to mess up pretty bad to get arrested. You usually have got to be pretty stupid or drunk to get arrested. Odom got arrested and LSU teammate Ace Foyil got cited.

Maybe Gaffney got into a fight with an LSU football player. That should be solved between Gaffney and whatever football player. A lot of college kids do stupid things, drink too much and get into fights. Not all college kids, though, have 10 or 20 friends who weigh 300-pounds who they can call.

Odom apparently did not even know the Gaffneys. Apparently he just wanted to kick someone's (expletive deleted), and a lot of his teammates wanted to watch.

Miles has handled other disciplinary issues well. He kicked three players off the team last spring after their arrests and previous behavior he didn't like. He usually does a good job of looking into everything that happened. He is not handling this one well.

"Apparently this is a very old issue," Miles said Saturday. "I don't know how significant the issues are. I really don't have a lot of information."

Then you need to be careful. And the age of this issue does not soften this issue. A crime is a crime, no matter how old. The fact that this happened back in late July only proves that the Baton Rouge Police just didn't rush out and arrest somebody. They apparently investigated it thoroughly and arrested one of your players, Miles, and cited another one. They've looked into it. Miles, who also said he wasn't aware that Foyil was involved, has not.

If this was just a couple of students and football players getting into a fight with no one getting hurt or no one's property getting damaged, it would not be that big of a deal. Instead, this is a mob of LSU football players allegedly acting like a mob.

"Traditionally when one football player is involved in something, the next thing you know there's about 10 or 20 football players involved," said one person close to the situation who knows what he's talking about.

Team unity is great, but keep it on the football field. Or you won't be on the football field.


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