LSU Football: Jordan Jefferson, Offseason Bar Fight Back in Focus. Fair?

Henry BallSenior Analyst IDecember 29, 2011

Back in Action
Back in ActionKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

In a Nov. 16 hearing concerning the Aug. 26 bar fight allegedly involving Jordan Jefferson and other LSU football players, Judge Richard Moore granted a motion to continue the arraignment of Jefferson after the 2011 football season. 

That decision and comments made Tuesday by the No.1 Tigers' starting QB have some fans and media members refocusing on the brawl that led to his arrest, suspension and much of the turmoil the Bayou Bengals had to overcome early on in their journey that will culminate in the BCS National Championship Game on Jan.9 in New Orleans, La.

For Jefferson, the main focus—as one might expect from a quarterback preparing to face the No.1 defense in the nation—is football and Jefferson used that to explain why he has had limited availability for media since his reinstatement to the team.

“It’s a situation that doesn’t happen to a college football player often,” he said. “It’s a terrible situation for anybody to go through. At the time I was focused on getting back and finding ways to contribute to this team.

“My main focus was football, instead of answering questions about that situation. It was something I was trying to put behind me.”

Considering Jordan’s role down the stretch, which included leading the Tigers to victory over three of the toughest opponents faced all year—No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Arkansas and No. 10 Georgia—and the fact that his teammates voted him permanent team leader on offense, one might conclude he has been successful in maintaining that focus.

Dan Wolken, columnist for The Daily, an iPad-driven news company, not only disagrees but in his article on Thursday—"Quarterback Sneak: LSU’s Jefferson still unwilling to acknowledge role in offseason bar brawl"—he takes exception with the fact that Jefferson has not apologized for “the guy he allegedly kicked in the head outside of a Baton Rouge bar."

He opines that Jefferson should be thankful that the privilege of playing quarterback for one of the nation’s elite football programs wasn’t taken away from him permanently.

On that point Wolken and I agree; Jefferson should be thankful (and I believe he is) that he has the opportunity to rise above the untenable circumstances that led to his arrest for felony battery and subsequent suspension for the beginning of his senior and final season as a Tiger.

What I’m afraid Mr. Wolken missed, however, is that he is the one who owes the apology, not Jefferson. 

It is writers like Mr. Wolken who rushed to judgment in labeling Jefferson’s "bad decisions" as the cause for his charges and made assertions that LSU and Jefferson’s much-maligned head coach, Les Miles, would only care about victories “regardless of whether Jefferson actually kicked a Marine in the head” as he wrote in August.

Through Wolken’s indignation toward Jefferson’s lack of remorse for "kicking the Marine in the head" he fails to inform you that those initial felony charges against Jefferson—and teammate Josh Johns—were reduced (dropped in Johns’ case) after a grand jury heard sworn testimony from up to 25 witnesses that neither Johns nor Jefferson was involved in the actual brawl.

He fails to inform you that the manager of the bar claims that the "Marine who got kicked in the head" was not only the instigator who threw the first punch, but he also had been thrown out of the bar for harassing and accosting a young woman who was subsequently granted a restraining order against him—Andrew Lowery—for stalking.

He fails to inform you that the "Marine who was kicked in the head" and the girl he went home with that night are the ONLY two witnesses the BRPD relied on to make their arrest, despite the availability of the aforementioned 25 witness who contradicted their account.

He fails to inform you that the BRPD confiscated 49 pairs of shoes and other items from Jefferson and Johns and found ZERO DNA evidence that would corroborate the story of the "Marine who was kicked in the head."  

And oddly, Mr. Wolken failed to inform you that video produced—and offered to the BRPD before making the arrest—actually shows Jefferson wearing a long grey shirt, while the video—taken just a few seconds after the one in the bar—shows the man who actually did kick someone was wearing a black shirt. 

The man outside the bar also appears to be far shorter than the 6’5” Jefferson.   

Perhaps Jefferson’s constitutionally protected presumption of innocence should motivate Mr. Wolken to apologize for jumping to conclusions.

Perhaps the BRPD’s utter lack of competence in this case should motivate Mr. Wolken to re-evaluate his own judgment. For that matter, shouldn’t the BRPD apologize for at the very least a failure to look into all of the readily available evidence?

Don’t some LSU and CFB fans—that rushed to label Jefferson a thug in order to see desired result, good or bad, on the field—owe an apology?

Really, when it’s all said and done, there are likely a lot of people who OWE apologies in this case. 

In my opinion it's not the guy—who has not before or since had a single disciplinary or legal issue—who served a four-game suspension and wound up only starting 30 percent of his senior season for essentially being at the wrong place at the wrong time who owes the apology.

Mr. Wolken, you’re up.