Sports should come with a Bob Marley soundtrack. Why? Because we love a "Redemption Song," even if it's for the wrong reasons. When Michael Vick guides the Eagles to victory, it makes us think he somehow is redeemed.
That brings us to two college athletes: Virginia Tech kicker Cody Journell and new Maryland basketball player Dez Wells, a transfer from Xavier.
In the case of Journell, his school stood by him after a brush with the law, and he thanked them Monday night with the tying and winning field goals in a 20-17 overtime victory over Georgia Tech.
In the case of Wells, Xavier abandoned him when he was accused of sexual assault and refused to overturn its decision when Wells was exonerated. On Tuesday, he picked Maryland over Kentucky, Memphis and Oregon.
In truth, the decisions of Virginia Tech and Xavier probably had more to do with the images of their programs than with the nature of the transgressions. Because of his squeaky clean reputation, Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer has the power to welcome back a talented kicker who pled guilty to misdemeanor trespassing after he was arrested and charged with felony breaking-and-entering in retaliation for a drug transaction that went bad.
Xavier, however, coming off an image-damaging December brawl with crosstown rival Cincinnati, couldn't accommodate Wells, even after a prosecutor in the case took the unusual step of urging the school to reconsider. Wells was suspended four games for his part in the brawl with Cincinnati.
In Blacksburg, boys will be boys, especially when they can lift the football team. Journell was good on 14 of 17 field goal tries last year, making all-ACC honorable mention before landing in jail for his misadventure.
His replacement in the Sugar Bowl, Justin Myer, missed a field goal in overtime, and Virginia Tech lost to Michigan. Does anyone believe that if Myer had made that kick and had any eligibility left that Journell would be back in Blacksburg?
Meanwhile in College Park, Wells will likely be cleared by the NCAA. Forcing the explosive 6-foot-5 swingman to sit out a year doesn't seem fair, especially considering his spotless past. Whether it's sooner or later, Maryland fans will be cheering for Wells because he can help them get to the NCAA tournament.
Whether this is a "Redemption Song" worth singing is anyone's guess.
- Kevin Dunleavy