From the Sidelines

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 22, 1999

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / December 22, 1999

“Cecil Collins arrested again.””Death penalty possible in Carruth case.””Dolphins waive troubled Underwood.”Those were headlines seen lately. Oh, and a happy holiday season to you,too.

What do Collins, Rae Carruth and Dimitrius Underwood have in common besides making negative headlines lately? All three were high draft picks, meaning that teams put a lot of faith in not only their abilities but also to make contributions on and off the field. All have been given secondchances sometime down the line.

Collins is getting to be a poster boy for athletes given a second chance.

And a third one. And a fourth one. His first chance came after he struggledacademically and missed his freshman season at LSU. LSU stuck by him andhe came through early in his sophomore season before suffering a season- ending injury.

Then came his arrest on two felony counts of unauthorized entry into an inhabited dwelling and two misdemeanor counts of simple battery. Helater pleaded guilty to the charges in exchange for four years’ probation.

In the meantime, Collins was kicked off the LSU team and hooked up with McNeese State. He proceeded to waste that chance by failing a court-ordered drug test.

Miami coach Jimmy Johnson was the latest to give Collins an opportunity to turn his life around. Johnson went against many doubters and selectedCollins in the fifth round of the NFL draft this April. So what happens?Collins is arrested last week on burglary charges and suspended indefinitely by the Dolphins. It now seems that Collins’ second chances arerunning out.

So may have Carruth’s. Carruth has been charged with first-degree murderin the Nov. 16 shooting of his pregnant girl friend, Cherica Adams. Adamsdied last week of injuries suffered in the attack while her baby remains in fair condition.

Sports had originally been Carruth’s ticket out of the crime-ridden neighborhood he grew up in. After suffering academically, his high schoolcoach and counselors had him retake classes to help him get a college scholarship. He went on to become an all-Big Eight selection at Coloradoand was selected with the 27th pick overall by Carolina in 1997.

The Panthers released Carruth after his arrest last week. Unlike manyplayers who try to hook on with another team after being released, Carruth is fighting for more than an NFL career. He may now be fightingfor his life.

Underwood is another troubled player whose NFL career could very well be over. Underwood was a first round draft pick by Minnesota this April butwas released by the Vikings after missing training camp.

Underwood was picked up by the Dolphins (Johnson must have a special place in his heart for troubled players) but attempted suicide shortly after. He was released by the Dolphins last week after fleeing from amental health center.

Why do they do it? Why do players who are living the dreams of millions of youngsters continue to throw those dreams away? Why do they do it after being given numerous chances to turn their ways around? Those are questions that themselves probably cannot answer.

There have been players who have been able to turn their lives around.

Randy Moss bounced from Notre Dame to Florida State to Marshall in college before Minnesota took a chance on him in the first round last year.

Moss found a mentor in Cris Carter, who also has overcome personal problems, to become one of the best receivers in the NFL.

Moss provides hope for other players that have been given second chances.

For Collins, Carruth and Underwood, hope might be the only thing they have left after last week.

Return To Sports Stories

Copyright © 1998, Wick Communications, Inc.

Internet services provided by NeoSoft.

Best viewed with 3.0 or higher