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Antonio Morrison gets deferred prosecution in battery case, Matt Hayes responds

Antonio Morrison got probation, fines, community service, and court-mandated counseling for battery. Matt Hayes thinks that was enabling him.


FLORIDA TODAY's David Jones reports on Twitter that Antonio Morrison will receive deferred prosecution for his June arrest on a battery charge for an incident at a Gainesville nightclub.

If Morrison's punishment is agreed upon by a judge, lawyers, and the victim, who could be against it? Well, Sporting News columnist Matt Hayes, it seems, for one:

Never mind that football players are asked to commit acts of violence on a field that would largely be criminal if they happened on the street, or that lumping simple battery in with taking impermissible benefits (not, last I checked, a crime) and domestic violence (which helped get A.C. Leonard jettisoned from Florida's program) is playing with apples and oranges: Hayes' core point seems to me to be that any bit of enabling will cause catastrophe later, which I suppose justifies shouting this from the slipperiest of slopes.

Here is another thing that is a product of "this enabler society": Airy proclamations about how wrong it is that athletes get away with minimal punishments for crimes without anything resembling substance to prove either that the enabling is unique to athletes or that enabling leads directly to serious problems, because publications give columnists cachet whether it is deserved or not.

Gregg Doyel, who has churned out a clunker column on this subject in the past, and is a Florida alum who has had his frustrations with Urban Meyer, seems to understand that the charges Aaron Hernandez faces are the product of Aaron Hernandez's actions, and that playing a blame game is missing the point. His argument is better and better-argued than Hayes' tweeted skeleton of an argument, and doesn't use the specter of a murderer to tar hundreds of people who had his job with the same brush.

If you did that with columnists, you might dismiss Hayes and Doyel and the dozens of people who try to think hard and write well about the stories of the day. It's better, I think, to try understand people by their own words and actions, rather than chalking up the mistakes of the few to the world in which the many live.