Friday, January 15, 2016
Lawrence Phillips was the 2nd best running back (Billy Sims was #1) I've ever seen in person. I remember on a day in September of 1995 in East Lansing, Michigan sitting in the end zone with my Dad and some friends and seeing Lawrence Phillips run right at us on numerous occasions as nobody could stop him. He ran for 4 touchdowns that day, he ran for over 200 yards, and he kicked Nick Saban's ass. Arguably one of the greatest college football teams ever and since I'm prejudiced it was the greatest ever, Lawrence Phillips went back to Lincoln that night on top of the world. While we were drinking with Sparty fans that night, Lawrence Phillips, back in Lincoln, got a call. Somebody and nobody has ever owned up to it, told him that his girlfriend was with a teammate. Phillips went over to the teammates apartment, hell it was Scott Frost, climbed up the side of the building like a deranged Spiderman, entered the apartment, and the top of the world became the depths of hell. Everybody knows that he beat her up, dragged her by the hair down 3 flights of stairs, and his teammate hid in the bathroom. And the downward spiral of Lawrence Phillips began. He's dead now.
It's easy to say good, another convict is dead. The world is just that much lighter. He deserved all he got. Dismiss him as another bad apple who should have never seen the light of day.
I really don't think like that. I am not one who dances on graves. I am not one who celebrates the killing of people. That is as damaging to the human psyche as growing up in group homes, having no parents, being discarded as trash, made fun of, thinking of ones self as worthless. That is damage hard to overcome. And if you celebrate the death of Lawrence Phillips, what the hell happened to you you dont want to admit? Unless of course you are a Trump supporter, then there's no hope you'll ever look inside yourself for answers, you're just an asshole.
Lawrence Phillips was recruited by Tom Osborne to Nebraska out of high school. Phiilips had found his way by playing football. Osborne, who is a man of inner peace AND yes egomania, thought getting Lawrence out of Baldwin Hills and into the sleepy town of Lincoln would help him. And of course it would help Coach Tom win games. And it did. Quid pro quo. You help me, I help you.
But damage done to an 18 year old kid for ohhhhhh 18 years, doesnt get solved overnight. Guys like Phillips don't go from being abused and forgotten to The Waltons in a day and a half. The damage is always there. Like lead in the Flint, Michigan water supply. Phillips was a damaged kid. And despite the efforts of the only father he ever knew, Osborne, that night in September 1995 happened. Another perceived betrayal. Hey I am not excusing anything this guy did, I am just trying to both understand and explain.
Osborne threw him off the team the next day, rather, he suspended him. Some of us, me included, thought he should never have been allowed back on the filed like he was in November of 1995 against Iowa State. I was there that day and very very few people cheered when he entered the game. Very few. Anyone who says different is lying.
Another thing that bothers me about that whole deal. They say, and by they I mean people with their heads up their asses, say Tom Osborne reinstated Phillips because he needed him to win a national title. Bullshit. Ever heard of Hall of Famer Ahman Green? Yeah he was Phillips' backup. So though I am not an Osborne apologist (go ahead ask me about Tom's alleged sainthood and you'll get an earful), I will defend him in this instance. Nobody was going to beat Nebraska that year. Shit, Wilson Phillips could have run for 100 yards with that offensive line.
Lawrence Phillips is a tragedy. A waste of talent. A sad sad story. A story so common anymore that it just makes me shake my damn head more than anything. The self righteous reaction to this whole 20 year downfall really pisses me off.
Yes we know, if YOU had been given the opportunity he had, you wouldn't have blown it. For chrissakes, middle class white people have no fucking clue what guys like Phillips have been through. Their damage may come from one year they didn't get to go on spring break or didn't get the Air Jordans the whined about. Phillips' damage is real. It's not a fender bender, it's a violent head on collision.
So he's dead at age 40. Hanging in a cell I assume one day after he was cleared for trial on killing his cell mate, another fine example of damaged goods. So go ahead and celebrate it if you wish. I choose not to.
Lawrence, you may have been the greatest I ever saw, if, the damage hadn't been so great that your life was declared totalled. I can still see you running right at me that day. RIP man.