Parents and sports usually do not mix. This story is an exception to that rule.
In 2017 parents often confuse “what’s best for their kid” as “defending them no matter what.” The sports world’s most popular parent, LaVar Ball, first hit the spotlight for berating a coach for not giving Lonzo more touches. That type of parent is seen as the norm, but the world still has plenty of parents who believe in discipline.
Former No. 1 NFL draft pick and current ESPN analyst Keyshawn Johnson, pulled his son Keyshawn Jr. out of the University of Nebraska to take “an extended leave of absence.”
The four-star wide receiver came to Nebraska a semester early, but struggled during spring ball, making just one catch for seven yards in the spring game. His struggles off the field were worse. It culminated with a marijuana possession citation in his dorm room. Less than two weeks later, Keyshawn Sr. made his son return home to California.
“One thing you will not do as my son is you will not embarrass Nebraska, you will not embarrass Mike Riley and you will not embarrass this family,” the elder Johnson told the Omaha World-Herald. “If you mature and you’re ready to resume your football career and academic goals, then Nebraska will be ready to embrace you.”
Some parents might defend their kid, deflect the blame or ask for a second chance. Not Keyshawn. He dropped the hammer.
But wait, there’s more. When Johnson Sr. was asked what Jr. thought about the move, he said:
“I never asked him,” Johnson Sr. said. “At the end of the day, I don’t think that decision was in his hands. He squandered that decision. He still wants to play football, and he still wants to play for Nebraska. But if you don’t do the things you’re supposed to do, under the guidelines of me, it’s not going to happen.”
The option to pull his son out of school with the ability to return isn’t an option all parents have, but Johnson Sr. played for Mike Riley at USC. Their longstanding relationship established enough trust from both parties, even though the younger Johnson thought it might give him more leniency.
“You’ve watched — on Instagram, on Facebook, on Twitter — everything’s a big party,” Johnson Sr. said. “You just want to get to college to party, but you don’t understand: You’re playing college football. It’s a business. And it’s a serious business. If you want to become successful — make it to the NFL — you’ve got to embrace it. You’ve got to own it. You don’t make it to the next level by cruising. There’s no cruise control.
“There’s no ‘Mike Riley is good friends with Keyshawn, so his son’s automatically going to play.’ That’s not the game. That’s not why he went to Nebraska. He went there to work his tail off. To have an opportunity to be successful. But when you don’t do that — and you squander that — what are you going to do?”
As a 25-year old, normally I don’t cater to the “back in my day was better” folks, but the world needs more discipline like this. All too often parents do not force children to take responsibility for their actions. It may briefly benefit the child, but it does nothing but cause harm in the long run.
Keyshawn Johnson Sr. is holding his son accountable for his actions, a lesson a few parents should learn sooner rather than later.