While the police in St. Augustine and the State Attorney’s Office in St. Johns County will soon deliver their findings in the battery case against Maurice Jones-Drew, I am happy and concerned at the same time to hear what Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley had to say in recorded comments off the practice field the other day.
Bradley said he is happy with the fact Jones-Drew, who is under investigation for battery in a nightclub incident over the Memorial Day weekend. He told reporters, which is on tape and on video from the Florida Times-Union, that he has been kept informed by MJD of what is going on his the star running back’s end concerning this matter. Bradley was frank in stating he is not naive to think these types of “incidents” and alleged cases happen, but as long as there is communication between himself and his players, then he can sort through everything else.
Kudos for the even keel Bradley has kept so far and kudos to the Jaguars organization for not blowing this incident “out of proportion” as MJD has said other situations have been done so by the media.
Should this case take a step further and charges are filed by the St. Johns County State Attorney, then this is a whole other ballgame.
This is the second time in as many years that MJD has been involved in a media “crisis” that has led to unwelcomed coverage of the team. Last season it was 38-day hold out during the off season and all of training camp because of a contract dispute. Now, it’s a legal matter. And while all of this is going on, the only thing I can think of is that the team itself should soldier on and practice at OTAs and upcoming mini camps just like they would if nothing had gone on. Jones-Drew is in Miami right now, working on training to heel his surgically repaired foot.
That is the only way teammates should see him-for now. Anything else is disruptive and will not help the Jaguars prepare for preseason games and the regular season.
This is the same mantra the fans should take as well. While we see these “incidents” all the time where nightclubs, partying, alcohol and athletes with money to spend are a dangerous combination (and I am not insinuating that is what happened, just making an observation and comment) that usually ends up in headlines that do not help anyone associated with the sports world.
He is innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around. There are times when even us sports writers have a hard time with that concept. Fans should still support their favorite player, who aside from having a few comments that could be construed as “opinionated” over the past few years, has done nothing out of the ordinary other than be a model citizen on the field. Contract negotiations aside, you still want No. 32 in the backfield running for you, not against you.
While everything associated with this case should be made known in the next few days, we must also take note there is testimony, video tape (alleged), statements and facts that need to be sifted through, just like a crime scene or in this case, just like a coach or scout watching hours of game film to find the right combination of size and speed.
When all the dust settles and there is clarity, then the team, MJD and the fans can move forward. But until then, innocence is how we should see things-- until or minds are changed by fact or fiction.