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When Whambacks Attack (Sorta).

Before moving on to less palatable news, I want to congratulate Kyle on his second blogo-versary. Congratulations, Kyle!

By now you've probably heard that University of Georgia walk-on defensive lineman/short yardage fullback Tripp Taylor was apparently involved in an altercation on May 25th, for which he will be charged with simple assault.

Cherokee County Sheriff's Sgt. Jay Baker said Taylor made verbal threats but did not use force.

My first thought was "So let me get this straight. Tripp Taylor is turning himself in because he, a 20 year old college student, cussed out a 17 year old? That's what passes for crime in Cherokee County these days?" The teens assaulted however reported that they were subjected to some pretty humiliating treatment which would most definitely be criminal in nature if it were true. From the AJC:

The victims- a 16 year old the authorities declined to identify because of his juvenile status and 17-year-old Charles Rogers-- told police they were at a lake site off Wooten Drive when they were approached by two males, according to police. The juvenile was cutting a piece of wood with a pocket knife when one of the men asked what he was doing. The teen told him none of his business, prompting the man to take the knife from him and press it to his throat.

Rogers said he was punched in the face by another male at the scene when he told the other one to leave his friend alone. He continued to get punched and kicked by several males after he fell to the ground. The juvenile put one of the males in a headlock and pulled him off Rogers. Both teens began walking away when a group of eight other males came walking toward them.The youngest teen was hit in the face with a baseball bat and kicked and punched, police said. Rogers ran into nearby woods, where they found him, stripped him of his clothes, punched and kicked him, then urinated on him.

Their attackers ordered them not to report the assaults to anyone, police said. The teens soon called a friend who picked them up from the lake. Police were called to the juvenile's home the next day. Both had visible bruises to their face and scratches on their legs, authorities said. The 16-year-old was found, through a subsequent medical examination, to have suffered an orbital fracture of one of his eyes. Rogers escaped with only minor injuries, Baker said.

The good news for Tripp Taylor is that if he were going to be implicated in any of the heavy duty hooliganism cited by the AJC, it probably would have happened already. My guess is that he'll turn himself in and cooperate with authorities, thereby avoiding any serious legal consequences (6 months probation and a fine, for example). If the young men in question had recognized Taylor to give his name to authorities, they certainly would not have omitted any knife-wielding, clothes stripping, orbital smashing or other battery on his part.

Of course the other good news for Taylor is that he is not Shane McClesky, an acquaintance of Taylor's who a) played wide receiver for Murray State University until his dismissal from the team today, and b) is charged with the far more serious offense of aggravated battery (more commonly known as "attacking someone with a weapon").

To be fair though, several things in this story make my lawyer-senses tingle. I note that the kids in question didn't call the authorities or their parents. They called a friend to pick them up. This is the smart thing to do when you are a 16 year old who's been out drankin' and fightin'. I'm not sure, but I'm willing to bet that the two kids who got beat up were not on their way home from choir practice, and that "none of your business" was not what the 16 year old said. I know this because I was once a 16 year old boy myself. In other words, it's not like Tripp Taylor was beating up third graders in the parking lot at St. Mary's School for Homeless Blind Kids Who Don't Read So Good.

Make no mistake however, this is embarassing for Tripp Taylor, his family, the University of Georgia, and Woodstock High School (both Taylor and McClesky are featured on the football team's website). It is yet another incident of a football player being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Taylor probably didn't say or do anything more dumb that what 99% of us reading or writing for this site have done at some point in our pasts.*** His real sin, the one which I just cannot get over, is the sin of being in a situation from which nothing good could emerge. Division One college football players are different from other college kids. They're not better or worse. Just different. It is absolutely impossible for any University of Georgia football player to walk into any social gathering and stay there for more than 1 hour without everyone in the place knowing who he is. That's just a harsh fact. And when something bad happens at such a function, the college athlete's will be the first name off the tongue of everyone who gives an account of what happened (whether to police, parents, clergy or Entertainment Television).

I'm hoping that our student athletes are not reading this. If they are, it means they're not studying, working out, attending Bible study or building Habitat for Humanity housing, or playing Madden '07. Those are all better uses of their time. But if any of them are, here is my personal advise to you:

Do not drink in public. Have your auto registration up to date. Don't send any emails you wouldn't want your mother to read. De-pimp your Myspace or Facebook page (I'd recommend a Heifer International background if you can find one. You can't go wrong with lambs and toddlers.) Because people will find out. Other college kids can do dumb things. You cannot. That's not fair, it's just true. It's a gilded cage that you cannot escape from unless you walk away from your goal of playing bigtime college athletics.

This is a harsh preview of life in the adult world. You can have the things you want, but you can't have all the things you want. There are tradeoffs. There are consequences. Tripp Taylor is about to find out about those consequences. I'm thinking this will affect his chances of getting a scholarship. It will possibly affect his availability for early season games in which September heat and humidity will require every defensive lineman available to play.

Kids, today's lesson is: don't pull knives on people. Don't go out drinking with people who pull knives on people. As my Mother was fond of saying, "Be in the right place, at the right time, doing the right things, and everything else will take care of itself."

***Kyle is the exception to this statement. The man's moral fiber is thicker than Nick Saban's employment contract. For example, he refuses to pick up free copies of Creative Loafing because he wishes neither to cheat freelance writers of the fruits of their labor, or encourage loafing. That's. Moral. Fiber.