Saturday night in the Georgia Dome was whirlwind of emotions. From the great defense and the early lead to the Honey Badger stealing our hearts and momentum. Despite the loss, I will have great memories of the night and of the 2011 season that saw the Dawgs get up off the deck and make it back to Atlanta for the first time since 2005. And while I was proud of the Georgia faithful for showing up and being insanely loud, I was not proud of one moment that occurred in the second half. At that moment, I saw (and heard) Georgia fans doing the one thing they should never do: boo a player.
Yes, that player was Isaiah Crowell. I am not going to sugar coat it, Crowell looked weak on Saturday. Rumors flew all last week about attitude problems and that only stacked the deck more against him on Saturday night. His 11 carry 15 yard performance was highlighted by a personal foul call that made Mark Richt look the maddest I have ever seen him. I was pissed, just as most of you were, but never did I consider booing him off the field.
Let's take a quick step back to the last time I heard a player individually booed by Georgia fans. The year was 2006 and Georgia was going through a tough season that included a loss to Vandy on homecoming. Georgia sophomore receiver Mohammed Massaquoi was struggling mightly in his first season as Georgia's #1 receiver. After a great freshman year, MoMass had a developed a case of the drops and with Sean Bailey out for the year, there was little other receiver fire power for freshman Matt Stafford to throw to. I can't remember which game it was, but after Mohammed dropped a pass at home late in the season, Georgia fans began to boo. I was ashamed and that is much the same feeling I felt on Saturday night.
Before you jump down my throat, yes, this was a much different situation. Crowell has been a problem, including suspensions and attitude issues. You may feel every bit justified in booing the kid for limping off the field. But my argument is not in favor of Crowell, it is more in that you should never boo a kid, period. The Georgia coaching staff has been very quiet in recent weeks about the status of Crowell's ankle. As fans, we actually have no idea how bad he was hurt. And if they knew he was not going to suck it up and bear through it, then why even play him? So he can be made to look bad? My point is, I would have never had him out there if he wasn't ready to go. Malcome is capable enough to carry the ball for 3-4 yards at a time.
Booing a player also looks incredibly bad to those outside of the program. This includes the television audience at home, other coaches, and most importantly, recruits. You don't think Nick Saban is going to call up a recruit and say, "Crowell could have come to Bama, but instead he went to Georgia and that ungrateful fan base boos him after a freshman season where he had almost 1,000 yards rushing"? Come on, you know he will.
In the future, I implore you to keep those feelings in. Remember, these are kids who give their time and their bodies to play football for your entertainment. If you don't like their play or their attitude, open a blog, vent on a message board, but don't try to humiliate them in public. The same thing goes for social media, if you don't want to support them, don't follow them on Twitter.
Make no mistake, I think Crowell is soft and if he can't change, he won't be long for Athens. But I will never justify the booing of a player on our team and you shouldn't either.