Last summer my son stood in front of a wall of jerseys at the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Store at the Grove City Outlet Mall. I had already told him he could get a jersey so now as they say, “The struggle was real.” He already had a number of jerseys in the closet at home so he’d narrowed down his choices to Ryan Shazier and Martavis Bryant.
“Dad? I’m not sure. Which one should I get?” he said. My choices were a highly touted draft pick who had injury issues or a freakish athlete who was going to miss the first four games due to a marijuana suspension. “Well,” I said, “who do you think is going to have a better career?” Without hesitation he reached out and grabbed the Shazier jersey. “Shazier huh?” I asked. “Martavis is awesome Dad but I trust Shazier more,” he said.
From the mouths of babes as they say.
My 11-year old son knew about Bryant and like his old man, didn’t have faith he could stay out of trouble. We learned yesterday that Bryant is appealing a potential one year suspension for failing the NFL’s Drug Policy. I suggested that the Steelers should seriously consider cutting Bryant after his first transgression simply because I didn’t have the faith he’d make the right decisions. I’m sorry to say my faith proved correct.
I don’t personally know Bryant but I’ve been in my early 20’s before and I admit, it’s a time in our life where we can make poor decisions. But it’s also a time when we either start to mature and make better decisions or we create a pattern of behavior that gets harder and harder to get out of as we grow older.
It was later reported that Bryant would be heading to rehab and may also be struggling with depression. To suggest this young man needs help is an understatement. He has problems and he makes poor choices and suddenly his once promising football career is but a secondary footnote to a troubled personal life.
Where the Steelers choose to go from here is anyone’s guess. I’m ready to cut my losses and move on from Bryant simply because he’s proven we have little reason to have faith in him. The team is likely to do as the Browns have done with Josh Gordon. They’ll continue to keep him in hopes that he can turn himself around but repeat offenders in the NFL rarely return to past glory and why should we think Bryant will be any different?
As fans, you have every right to be pissed off and disappointed. With this team so close to a Super Bowl run this is a tough blow to take. Like me, you will have your opinion on Bryant’s issues and his future and you are entitled to them. There were some pretty harsh social media posts out there in the last 24 hours directed at Bryant and you know what? I don’t blame you.
I’m just as pissed off as you are but then again I had little faith in Bryant to begin with so I’m not all that surprised.