The Syracuse Orange fan base can feel a sense of pride when a former SU player, in any sport, is drafted professionally. Just this past weekend two former Orange football standouts were selected in the NFL Draft: Arthur Jones went in the third round to the Baltimore Ravens and Mike Williams was selected in the fourth round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
There TMs a bit of a gray area though when it comes to Williams, a talented yet troubled young wide receiver.
Williams was a bonafide star when he was on the field for the Syracuse football team. He started out with some paltry numbers in 2007, but was on pace for a memorable season midway through 2009. He could have been a record-breaking receiver for SU if he could have kept himself out of trouble, but he missed all of the 2008 season after being academically suspended; and while facing a second suspension in the 2009 campaign, he quit the team. (Williams, for his part, claims he was forced to quit).
All of this begs the question: Will you - or should you - as an SU Football fan, root for Mike Williams in the NFL... or at the very least, hope for his success? I TMm not taking sides here; I just am laying out both sides of the argument.
Why you should root for Mike Williams in the NFL:
He TMs an extremely talented kid from upstate New York that has had it rough. He TMs not the first kid to have troubles on the SU Hill, and was beyond exciting to watch light up the scoreboard.
I can honestly say, from my media dealings with Mike, he seems like a really nice guy. He was always willing to do an interview, always supporting other SU Athletics teams (I spotted him at women TMs and men TMs basketball, as well as softball games). I would talk to him about Buffalo (I TMm a Buffalo State graduate) and he would chat me up as long as he could.
It shouldn TMt be ignored that he worked hard to come back to SU after his 2008 suspension. He could have followed suit with many other suspended athletes and not returned, but he did and that hard work should not be forgotten.
Why you shouldn TMt root for Mike Williams in the NFL:
His troubles absolutely hurt the SU football team. After returning from that 2008 suspension, he had to have known he was already on thin ice, but he put himself in a situation where he was suspended not once, but essentially twice. I don TMt know what that says about him, but would SU have won any more games than they did at the end of 2009? Would they have made a bowl game? What about 2008?
His unreal talent ended up hurting SU, because the Orange relied heavily on his skills only to have them taken away - twice. If he did in fact quit the team, which again is a disputed subject, instead of facing the music for something he did he walked out on the Orange and its fans.
Take what you will from the entire situation, but the ultimate question is this: Will Mike Williams finally work out those character issues and succeed in the NFL, like his talent suggests he might? Or will the demons that killed his career at SU resurface in the NFL? Feel free to leave a comment below and tell us what you think.