Florida State

Media double standard exposed in case of Deondre Francois

“I hope they will have the decency to clear my name with the same publicity with which they now have besmirched it.” — Micheal Corleone to the Senate Committee in “The Godfather: Part II”

Wednesday morning, accusations of battery upon a pregnant woman by Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois exploded across the sports media. Another case of a major college football player beating on his girlfriend.

Or so it seemed.

Hours later, the investigation was dropped with much less media fanfare.

Francois and the alleged victim told police what were described as “dramatically different” versions of the incident. There were no independent witnesses. There was no arrest. Case closed.

I had a similar situation happen to me during my playing days at FSU. It left me with a busted window in my dorm room, my car messed up, my house messed up, I got hit and had a cop tell me he was glad I used restraint or I’d be going to jail. Nothing happened to the woman.

I’m not bitter. She’s moved on and does great things, but the cop telling me he was waiting for me to make a bad decision was mind-boggling.

I had a teammate not too long before that get arrested. The arrest report shows he didn’t hit the woman; instead, he grabbed her wrist to prevent from getting hit himself.

I’ve had teammates accused of rape go through the worst trials of their lives. They’re painted as gangsters and monsters during the trial because of where they come from. When they were acquitted, it was not front page news like the accusation; acquittals seemingly are buried by the newspapers, websites and TV and radio stations that cover sports full-time.

When I Google those names these many years later, the first stories that pop up are the accusations. You can only find the acquittal stories if you dig.

The hypocrisy of expectations for major college football players annoys me. It’s not going away anytime soon, either.

Everybody preaches at these young men about the opportunity they have, even folks with zero clue what it’s like to be in their shoes. They can’t fathom the scrutiny that comes with each step they take. Former athletes get in on the act, as well, talking about “back in my day” and how today’s football student-athlete has to be more responsible.

The same folks will tell you to stay away from girls and parties or any of the other joys that come with college life. In the same breath, they call players arrogant, stuck up and weird for not embracing what everyone considers “the best times of your life” because athletes are paranoid that someone is trying to set them up to be on TMZ.

We always hear about the bad. When an athlete at Major U finds trouble, it’s heavily publicized. It stings because a few moments paint the entire athletic world as filled with punks who need a lesson on humility.

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