Monday, March 1, 2010

Brandon Graham: Infallible Superhero

Recently, outgoing Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham was asked about Rich Rodriguez. He said:

After the season, we said that, ‘you can’t be up for so long, eventually you have to pay taxes,’ ” Graham said on Saturday. “That’s how we look at it until we get it back up. That’s what we’re going to do. I hope them boys get right next year. Because coach (Rich Rodriguez has) only got one more year — if they don’t do (anything). Because of the allegations, and then, if you have a bad year, then you’ve got to get someone new.
Last week I wrote a post about Morgan Trent making similar comments about Rodriguez's tenure at Michigan. Trent said:
I'm not surprised because I know what happened, and I know what kind of rules were broken. I couldn't see how they were going to get out of that. Whatever steps need to be taken (to restore Michigan's winning tradition), I'm all for it. What is happening right now obviously is not working. I don't know how long they're going to let this last until changes are made. This year is going to be the tell-all what's going to happen. We can't have three losing years in a row. Not at Michigan. To lose seven of last eight games (in 2009) is an embarrassment.
Representative of the Michigan online community, MGoBlog responded to Brandon Graham's statements with, "[These comments] don't say anything about Rodriguez, really. They say something about the guy offering the quote. Brandon Graham, as per usual, is win."

Compare this to MGoBlog's statement that, "The obvious contrast is with Morgan Trent, who sold out the program in a statement. He's just talking out of his ass because he dislikes RR, and I hereby excommunicate him."

My intention here is not to accost Brian, MGoBlog's originator. But since he's a knowledgeable Michigan fan, and someone other Michigan fans look to for leadership, his sentiments are echoed by many fans. These two statements are remarkably similar; the only significant difference lies within Trent's opening statement that "I know what happened, and I know what kind of rules were broken." And since the allegations told us all "what happened" and "what kind of rules were broken," I don't see how Trent's re-statement of public knowledge could possibly be damning.

My intention here is also not to attack Brandon Graham. What he said is probably accurate - this very well could be a do-or-die year for Rodriguez at Michigan. But the disparate reactions to each player's statement lie not in what was said, but who said it. As a likely first round draft pick this year, Graham has been afforded more leeway. He is our hero, so he can say anything he wants. Trent, on the other hand, had an up-and-down career and didn't get picked up until the sixth round of the 2009 draft; therefore, Michigan fans felt compelled to denigrate him in various uncouth ways.

This is nothing new. Talented and respected people get more slack. This is why Hollywood actors never serve time for domestic abuse or drug possession. It's why it was such a huge deal that New York mayor Michael Bloomberg *gasp* wanted criminal mastermind Plaxico Burress prosecuted to the full extent of the law for possessing a weapon illegally. In many instances, someone like Burress would get slapped on his left wrist while signing an autograph for the judge with his right hand.

But let's call a spade a spade - either Graham and Trent were wrong to say what they did, or neither statement was a big deal. I don't have a problem with either statement.


  1. Not sure I agree with that. Trent's quote starts out with 'I'm not surprised...I was there, I saw rules broken' which is a bit more inflammaroy and accusative.

    Graham doesn't mention them and juast wants them to win.

    I'm not in the camp that we should erase Trent's name from the school record for what he said, but i also do think there is a distinct difference in tone between the two that would indicate one player that was 'all-in' and perhaps one who was not entirely, which is okay. People are entitled to their opinions, either way.

    Any ex-player making comments now would do well to choose their words cautiously and to perhaps stay out of it id they don't have any to add that is of specific value. Otherwise they risk swatting a hornets nest with a stick on either side of 'the issue'.

  2. Even if I concede the point that the tone was different, that doesn't really account for the vast gap between "Morgan Trent is a piece of shit" and "Brandon Graham is a solid guy." Those reactions are nearly on opposite ends of the spectrum.

    (Not that you're one of the people reacting like that.)

  3. Tone is important here. Morgan Trent's tone serves to make his comments sound like an indictment of Rodriguez, more than anything. Meanwhile, Graham's comments appear much more neutral, and a statement of the obvious more than anything else. A perceived indictment of Rodriguez by a former player (Trent) is damaging. Graham's comments are not. That's a major difference there.

  4. I was the anon comment first.

    I agree with you on the polarity of the reactions, some are pretty far out of line.

    However, if Morgan Trent wants to stir it up that way and feels the need to take shots that way, he should probably expect to take them back.

  5. I totally agree with you Mtzlblk and Seth! To say that both comments in essence are communicating the same message is a huge stretch to say the least. I usually agree with the author of this blog but this post has missed the mark of being a viable arguement IMO.

  6. @ Anonymous 1:09 p.m.

    So if Brandon Graham had made the exact same statement as Trent, would there have been such a big backlash?