“I Believe In Second Chances But…”

…I really don’t.”

We are in the middle of a mini-contraversy here in Topeka surrounding our Washburn University Ichabods football team. That’s right – that is their real mascot, an Ichabod. Don’t even get me started.

At the heart of the issue is this – they are welcoming back a kid that confessed to armed robbery of a bank, was sentenced to 30 months in jail, served his time and is now free. He will be playing running back for the team in a few weeks. He was a great player for the ‘Bods 2 years ago, never got into trouble then out of nowhere – he robs a bank and an ATM. Before we start with the “He’d fit right in at LSU” jokes – he actually wouldn’t. He confessed to the crime and did his time.

Coach Craig Shurig has welcomed him back on the team and it has created quite a little uproar with some of the alumni and staff. What is NOT known is whether or not he got his scholarship back. Nobody said that. All that has been confirmed is that he was welcome back on the team. Could be as a walk-on for all we know.

I’ve heard a lot of this phrase when it comes to this topic – “I believe in second chances but…”

Then the list starts:

This was armed robbery.
This was a felony.
He put lives at risk.
There are more deserving kids that spot on the team should go to.
This is about money and wins.

Maybe it is. But then the University has its own self to blame for that. They fire coaches who don’t win regardless of their moral fiber.

But maybe it’s about grace. Maybe it’s a coach and a system getting it right for a change. The kid spent 30 months in prison. What else do you want from him?

The bigger issue is this – if you use the “but,” you don’t really believe in second chances. Grace is scandalous that way. You have to blow a first chance in order to get a second chance. That’s grace.

I hope the kid ‘gets it’ this time around. I’ve met Coach Shurig and I know the team chaplain as well. They are both men of great faith and humility, gracious men. They are also tough as nails. So while it might be for wins, it might also be for redemption.

But then again – I’m all for second chances.


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