I’m not Stetson Bennett’s dad. (If I were, I’d be Stetson Bennett III.) I’m not his agent. I’m not his coach. I’m just a guy who has the greatest admiration for what Bennett – author of the greatest story in the history of college football – has done. My intent isn’t to scold. It’s simply to suggest that Stetson Bennett IV have a talk with himself.
Early Sunday, Bennett was arrested in Dallas, Texas, on the charge of public intoxication. Not for DUI. Not for being too young to drink. (He’s 25.) For knocking on doors and appearing inebriated at 6 a.m. CST.
Hours later, the quarterback who led Georgia to consecutive national championships was caught on video emerging from a heavy metal door. He was accompanied by two police officers. He carried a bottle of water. He bowed his head, which was shrouded by a hood. He entered an SUV. As the vehicle drove away, he bent so deeply his face was obscured.
When your morning involves police custody, you’ve more than likely made a poor choice. We’re told Bennett was in Texas to prepare himself for the draft. His morning door-knocking could cost him some NFL money, though history teaches that, with SBIV, we shouldn’t dismiss his chances of achieving anything. Still, a man of such accomplishments shouldn’t always need spite as his prime motivation.
At the official celebration of Title No. 2, Bennett told the assembled multitude in Sanford Stadium: “Y’all said we weren’t any good … Screw it – we’ve got two rings.”
Trouble was, the “y’all” he was addressing wasn’t a postgame convocation of jaded media types. His audience was Bulldog Nation. Maybe – OK, surely – some in attendance were among the Bennett dissenters of 2020 and ‘21. Back then, more than a few Georgia fans were rooting for Georgia’s quarterback to fail, which was shameful.
Bennett used the slights as fuel. He won a championship. He returned to school as a sixth-year senior, ready to bank $1 million in NIL money.
Before he agreed to stay at Georgia after Title No. 1, he demanded assurances he’d remain the No. 1 quarterback. “It was time for me to be a little selfish,” he told reporters. Then he led the Bulldogs to an undefeated season. Nothing selfish about that. Everybody should have been happy.
Most everybody was. The exception seemed to be Bennett. He skipped the morning-after media briefing in L.A. He ignored a benign question from a WSB reporter during the parade. His onstage “y’all” landed with a thud.
He hasn’t been a teenager for a while, but Bennett seized on the moment of ultimate triumph to come across as a petulant teen. There are times when magnanimity is warranted. Quoting the pitching coach Johnny Sain from Jim Bouton’s “Ball Four”: “Nobody wants to hear about the labor pains, but everybody wants to hold the baby.”
Also from Sain: “It never hurts to say you’re sorry, even if you don’t mean it.”
The aftermath of his arrest would be a fine time for Bennett to say, “Hey, I messed up.” It would play well with his new audience, which consists of those NFL teams who might be inclined to draft him. (Front offices will have already accessed his “Good Morning America” appearance after Title No. 1.)
NFL clubs will need a reason to spend a draft pick on a 5-foot-11 quarterback who’s closer to 30 than to 20. Bennett might have provided a reason they shouldn’t bother.
His defenders will suggest he needed his haters to conquer Georgia’s skeptical coaches, to say nothing of all of college football. Maybe he did. The trouble with hate is that it has a short shelf-life. Michael Jordan using praise for Clyde Drexler as a goad is more amusing than instructive.
Stetson Bennett has won. He is, by definition, a winner. He has no further need for that chip on his shoulder. Its removal will only make him feel lighter. Its absence might help him throw an even better deep ball.
The above is part of a regular exercise, written and curated by yours truly, available to all who register on AJC.com for our free Sports Daily newsletter. The full Buzz, which includes more opinions and extras like a weekly poll and pithy quotes, arrives via email around 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
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