Parker: Vols' actions prove athletes aren't perfect

Sunday, July 11, 2010
Darren Myles Jr. went from first team to no longer on the team thanks to poor judgment off the gridiron between April and July. (T-G File Photo by Danny Parker)

"So big guy, what do you want to be when you grow up?"

"Mista, I wanna be a professional football player."

Without hesitation a youngster's future plans leave the mouth as though it's a destiny etched in stone upon conception. What lies between is little more than details.

The opportunities to advance a career in athletics to the major college level are few and far between. And, as Tennessee coach Derek Dooley noted in a statement issued Friday, those scholarships and roster spots are privileges, not a right.

Dooley, who was on vacation with his family, had to cut leisure time short to address the media after 7 to 10 of his players were engaged in a brawl at Bar Knoxville.

Darren Myles Jr. paid his dues on the bench a majority of his freshman season in Knoxville, learning how to play the game and represent his university under the tutelage of the premier Volunteer of this century, Eric Berry.

Apparently every word or lesson passed down to Myles went in one ear and out the other.

The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder slated to take over at strong safety for Berry sealed his fate by being arrested not once, but twice, in a four-month span. His stat sheet is glittered with assault, resisting arrest, evading arrest, disorderly conduct and public intoxication charges instead of interceptions and solo tackles.

Just three weeks after Father's Day, Darren Myles Sr., the head coach at Carver High School in Atlanta, must deal with simple fact that his son couldn't stay on the path and already is in deep trouble with the law before even exiting his teen years. How does he influence his current players to keep a level head and reciprocate discipline when his own son is running amuck? His is not an enviable position.

Tennessee coach Derek Dooley acted swiftly after returning from vacation to address the incident at Bar Knoxville. (T-G File Photo by Danny Parker)

Myles Jr. wasn't alone in wrongdoing as the brawl at Bar Knoxville hit the streets and Robert Capouellez, an off-duty Knoxville police officer, was nearly beaten and kicked to death. More Vols were involved and cleaning up the program will unfairly rest entirely and squarely on the shoulders of Dooley.

"As I have referenced on many occasions, a change in culture is achieved in time through a combination of education, discipline and support. We will aggressively continue to build on the many positive changes that have occurred over the last five months to ensure our program is represented with class and dignity," he said.

This sort of behavior doesn't come about simply because kids play football in Knoxville. Pay close attention to any program in the country long enough and this happens everywhere. Any fan who thinks otherwise is simply fooling themselves.

On Saturday morning the bouncing ball of embarrassment landed on Georgia's campus as sophomore tailback Dontavius Deshawn Jackson and split end Tavarres King were arrested on alcohol-related charges.

When over 100 finely-tuned athletes are turned loose around alcohol and the opposite sex in college towns or large cities, situations are going to come about.

In a world touched more by testosterone, pad popping and wins/losses than any of us will ever know, these kids must have some sort of release. You can't lock them in a study hall or weight room when they're not allowed on the practice field. Thus, there exists a thin line by which all associated must toe.

Teams may have perfect records but their rosters won't be void imperfect citizens.