Three players from the University of Tennessee football team–Janzen Jackson, Mike Edwards, and Nu’Keese Richardson–were arrested early Thursday morning in connection with an attempted robbery that took place in Knoxville. Charges have yet to be filed, but the facts in evidence available right now do not look good. In light of what is known at this moment, I couldn’t help but offer a bit of advice…

Dear Mr. Jackson, Richardson and Edwards,
I’m writing today to volunteer some thoughts on your recent predicament. I realize that all the facts have yet to be brought into evidence, but my desire to help a few young brothas has overridden my patience. As it is, I understand my advice is unsolicited and you are, of course, free to do with it what you wish.

You are extremely gifted athletes able to exchange your gifts for an education and possibly an opportunity to play a sport you love at its highest level for a living. Please stick to backpedaling. Focus on banging that toe cleat and getting your hips around when you’re coming out of your break. Be extremely diligent about high pointing the football when making an interception (thumb to thumb, pointer to pointer). Work hard not to get jammed at the line of scrimmage. Don’t arm tackle; wrap your man up and drive legs.

Refrain, when possible, from sticking people up in Knoxville, Tennessee. Don’t brandish a weapon–even if it’s just a pellet gun–and ask people to give you everything they have in a convenience store parking lot. This only takes your focus away from knowing your coverage responsibilities in Tampa 2 and makes it really hard to study film and find the seams in the 3-4 defense.

I understand about youthful shenanigans and indiscretions. But use your head. If you really can’t help yourself and really need to play Jump Out Boys at a local convenience store, please don’t do so wearing anything that connects you to the powerhouse football program in town, a program from whom you received a scholarship and would be quickly recognized because you start for said football team. This is especially ill-advised if your team plays in the Southeast Conference, a conference for whom football is less a sport and more a Saturday religion.

Don’t take part in armed robbery with a groupie driving a Prius as your wheelman (or wheelperson as it were). I appreciate some people want to have a breathtaking Dead Presidents moment, but… You’re four Black people riding around in a Toyota Prius. In Knoxville, Tennessee. Your success probability is slightly worse than Larenz Tate’s in Dead Presidents and you see how that turned out.

Mr. Jackson, Richardson and Edwards, along with your lady accomplice, you were four Black people in a Toyota Prius. People  aren’t so post-racial that they don’t notice that sort of thing. If it was a Honda Civic, you might have had a puncher’s chance of blending into the Knoxville landscape. But this was a Prius,  a vehicle which looks less like everycar and more like the escape pod for an intergalactic space station.

People remember Black dudes who robbed them in a Prius. Hell, I remember two Black dudes who gave me the finger while pulling a risky U-turn two years ago. They were in a Prius. In Los Angeles.

Still, if you can’t help yourselves wearing hoodies and some other incriminating article of football factory paraphernalia while attempting to rob people with a pellet gun before speeding off with three other Black people in a Toyota Prius in Knoxville, do yourself a favor: throw away the gun and the hoodies; disappear that bag of weed and the weed grinder (and possibly the Prius if you can swing it).

And Mr. Jackson, if you’re innocent like you say–which is entirely possible since you were not initially identified by the victims of this attempted robbery–do your best not to keep the company of people who try to rob people with pellet guns while wearing some form of school paraphernalia and speeding off in a Toyota Prius in Knoxville, Tennessee while Black.



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