One of the most interesting things about the 2015 Florida football season has been Chad Grier — father and former high school coach of Will Grier — detailing his perspective of his son's breakout season to Sporting News. The elder Grier wrote about his son's role in Florida's epic comeback over Tennessee in September, and about spending a weekend in Gainesville prior to that.
Here's how Chad Grier specifically addresses Will's actions leading to his suspension, writing that "his mistake was one of naivete, not of malice."
When you sign on to play in the SEC, you know going in that it’s big-boy football. For most of the players in this conference, just getting there is the fulfillment of an entire childhood spent training, working and preparing for the opportunity. I watched my son invest countless hours into the weight room, film study, footwork, throwing into nets and the hands of friends and teammates. His grind was the kind passed down from the blue-collar roots of generations of his family before him that afforded his parents, and then himself, new opportunities and better neighborhoods and schools. It led to the achievement of his childhood dreams.
His story is not mine to tell. But I do know the facts. I do know that his mistake was one of naivete, not of malice. I do know that he had no idea that he had done anything he thought was wrong, let alone the NCAA.
If and when he’s ready, he’ll fill in the blanks.
Furthermore, the father has plenty of praise for how his son has reacted to the suspension itself.
Football has a finite shelf-life for all who play the game. The smartest of those who play use the game to sharpen life skills. When I saw my son walk to that podium to tell a room full of adults that he was sorry for his mistake, I knew that Will had used the game to become a better man.
Will loves his teammates and the University of Florida the way the most loyal SEC fans feel about their school. This crisis in Will’s life has brought out the best in him as he has asked me to help him find opportunities to serve others while he waits on adults who don’t even know him to decide his immediate future. He is the calming voice in our family, assuring all of us that he’s OK and that God gives his toughest battles to his toughest soldiers. He doesn’t see his world falling apart, he sees his world changing and he is ready to embrace it and tackle it with the same ferocity as his teammates have been attacking opposing offenses.
But the elder Grier also reserved some words for those who have made the Florida signal-caller a laughingstock over the last three days.
Unfortunately, crisis brings out the worst in others. It’s disappointing to see the comments of those all too happy to kick a young man who has just had his life turned upside down and vilify him as if he intentionally did something wrong. I’m sure most of those folks are generally good people and just see it as having fun at someone else’s expense and in a twisted way supporting their own team. Others just troll looking for something or someone to hate on. I doubt that many of these people stop to think what that would feel like if it were happening to their own son.
"I am still very proud of my son," Chad Grier writes in conclusion. "More so today than ever before!"
While I still have some issue fully believing that Will Grier had no idea whatsoever that taking supplements without the rigorous supervision of Florida's training staff was risky — if there is truly naivete in play here, I think it may be overpronounced — I cannot disagree with his father being proud of how his son has faced the day since.
One of the better quotes I've ever read purportedly comes from orator Robert Green Ingersoll: "The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart."
It appears that Will Grier is doing just that.