A Year Later, Here’s What I Think About The De’Andre Johnson Situation

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Johnson’s circumstance shines a light on the horrifying truth regarding male athletes: on- and off-the-field they can hit, punch, and fight, but their professional careers will remain alright.

Netflix released Season Two of Last Chance U this past July. The program highlights college athletes who struggle (in the producers’ words) “to find their redemption on a champion community college football team.”

Johnson with his mother on Good Morning America (photo, NYDailyNews)

Last October I wrote in these pages about former FSU quarterback De’Andre Johnson. A domestic abuse incident at a bar in Tallahassee led to Johnson’s Seminoles jersey being taken away and his dismissal from the school.

A surveillance video was released of him assaulting FSU student Abigail Husty. The video blew up, its distribution magnified by social media. Johnson entered a plea deal–pleading guilty to his misdemeanor battery case related to the incident.

Season Two, Episode Two of Last Chance focuses on Johnson. He admits his mistake as he sits alongside his parents. His next step? Take advantage of a second chance on the football field. Johnson enrolled at East Mississippi Community College and became a team leader. There was even talk that he was the best QB to come through that school recently.

But despite his good performance at EMCC–both on- and off-the-field–major colleges weren’t showing interest in him. That was until December 9th, when Johnson was invited to visit Florida Atlantic University. He was offered a spot on the team the very next day and Johnson officially signed with the Owls a few days later.

Abigail Husty, who remained at FSU but has had her own hardships following the incident, hasn’t participated in public interviews since the trial and her social media remains private. But the Netflix release of Last Chance U rekindled interest in the matter. It became a hot topic of discussion on Twitter. Here are several examples.

The majority of the tweets–if not all of them–blamed Husty for what happened.

A year has now passed and I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on this story. I think it tells us at least three things about what’s at stake.

First, Husty–an average college student–was tweeted about by name. De’Andre Johnson, a promising football player, had to re-start his college career.

Second, despite tempers that flared during a heated conversation, that circumstance neither justified the actions taken that night nor the victim-blaming that followed.

Third, Johnson’s circumstance shines a light on the horrifying truth regarding male athletes: on- and off-the-field they can hit, punch, and fight, but their professional careers will remain alright.

It’s no secret that domestic violence among male athletes is a common crime. As a culture, it’s a hard pill to swallow. Not many people want to talk about or acknowledge it.

Most sports fans want their teams to succeed and thrive. In return, they’re willing to look the other way, sometimes defending an athlete’s violent actions.

We have seen that storyline too many times. Here are three examples.

No matter your age, you’re probably familiar with what many have called, “The Trial of the Century.” O.J Simpson, beloved in the football community, captured the public’s attention in the mid-90s when he was accused–but found not guilty–of killing his wife, Nicole.

In 2015, Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Rice was caught on tape beating and dragging his wife in an elevator.

In boxing, Floyd Mayweather stamped his all-time-great ticket in Vegas recently by defeating Connor McGregor. He’s now 50-0. But consider what a Reddit user posted after the fight: “Floyd Mayweather is 51-0 if you count the time he beat his wife, but you don’t because she never got her boxing license and therefore isn’t a professional boxer.”

Of course, that statement makes light of a horrible situation. But the truth is that Mayweather’s greatness in the ring shouldn’t eliminate him from scrutiny outside of it.

From De’Andre Johnson to Floyd Mayweather, we witness the epitome of male-athlete privilege. As their fame grows, their sense of entitlement develops, too.

Yes, athletes are role models and, with that, they need to be held responsible for their actions. But that’s not to say everybody is looking the other way. Here are two recent examples.

In mid-August, the NFL announced that the Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott will be suspended for 6 games following a domestic violence investigation conducted by the league.

This past April, Indiana University adopted a policy that bans IU sports programs from including any athlete who has a history of sexual or domestic violence. It applies to any athlete who “has been convicted of, or pleaded guilty or no contest to, a felony involving sexual violence.”

That policy means De’Andre Johnson wouldn’t be able to play for the Hoosiers. And it’s probably the reason offers from big-name schools didn’t pour in.

Slowly, but with a strong sense of hope, I’d like to see it become easier for sports authorities and fans to address domestic violence for what it is–violence.


About Raffaella Keshishian

I come from generations of athletes in my family. From middle school on I was a competitive basketball player and sprinter (100, 200 and 4×100 relay). Then in 10th Grade I tore my ACL and had to stop playing basketball competitively. I’m still involved with the game anyway I can be, but I also know that my playing days are over. Today, I have a love of learning through sports and a love of sports through learning. Injury and lack of talent lead me here but, just like Ben Frank once said, “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” I’ve loved to write since I was a little girl. And, as I got older, the idea of writing about sports–including controversial issues–became a dream of mine. TSC is helping me achieve that dream! All it takes is for one person to believe in you!

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Comments (A Year Later, Here’s What I Think About The De’Andre Johnson Situation)

    MarkG wrote (09/06/17 - 8:50:55AM)

    There is one very large problem with your analysis and conclusion. DeAndre Johnson was not involved in a situation of domestic violence. DeAndre and the young lady were not involved in a relationship. She was a total stranger to him. Just because a male hits a female does not make it a domestic matter. Look up the definition. Therefore, he technically would not be banned based on IU’s policy.