DJK Charges Deferred, Dismissed: The Redemption Begins Now

As noted earlier, Derrell Johnson-Koulianos had a hell of a day today. He pled guilty to marijuana possession with a deferred judgment, and had all of his other charges dismissed. One year of keeping his nose out of trouble (you know, like his first three years at Iowa), and that record is clean, clean, clean. Haters to the left.

I mentioned it over at CBS earlier today, but it bears repeating: this is a proper verdict. Prosecutors generally don't drop charges without just cause, and if all we're talking about is possession of marijuana for a non-violent, first-time offender, there's no way DJK deserves jail time. Not if we want to start being adults when it comes to pot. We'd say that if he were a Cyclone, or just some dude in college, or just some dude who's not in college. It's one thing for Kirk Ferentz to have team rules against marijuana; that's fine, of course, seeing as how it's his team and pot's illegal and there's clearly no performance being enhanced here outside of "enjoying guitar solos." There was all the other stuff from the arrest too, and again, Ferentz's call on it and we're fine with it. From a legal standpoint, though, it's pretty obvious that the threat of jail time (and increasingly harsher sentences, in some states) isn't a reliable deterrent to marijuana usage; it just puts more potheads around more bad people and stunts their professional ambitions. So again: kudos to a dose of sanity here.

What would be ideal, now, is to see the same level of sanity from fans as we evaluate DJK's career at Iowa. He was the most prolific receiver in Hawkeye history, breaking records for most receptions and receiving yards while falling just four touchdowns shy of tying the receiving touchdowns record too. 173 receptions, 2616 yards, 17 TDs. Those are numbers nobody can take away from him or from Iowa, nor do they deserve some sort of asterisk.

In fact, we'll take it a step further. DJK never dogged it in practice, never dogged it on game day, and never dogged a single teammate or coach in the press. That continues to this very day, as DJK's down in Texas for the NFLPA Game (and reportedly running his best times ever) while saying nothing but positive things about his former teammates even after his dismissal. We don't like the way his Iowa career ended and we're sure nobody else--DJK, teammates, coaches, or fans--does either. But looking at his time in Iowa City as a whole, we'll take that career from a player every. single. time.

It's a fallacy to just throw your hands up and resign yourself to this notion of "taking the good with the bad," as if recruiting, football, or life is just some perfect little yin-yang symbol and that the two notions are inexorably intertwined. They're not, and they're not equal. One should aspire to have the good with the good, and to not have the bad with the bad! There are great athletes who do great things off the field, and there are terrible athletes who are also terrible people. That's why I detest this myth that you can't have great athletes at a school with high academic standards. Sure you can. You just can't have as many, because like any other limiting standard in selection (minimum height, minimum weight, no gingers), academic standards reduce the pool of available talent.

I digress. Back to the point at hand. While "the good with the bad" is a fallacy in general, it is not in individual cases. DJK is who he is, an enigmatic, hard-working, and talented wide receiver who fell too far in love with getting fucked up. The legal system did its thing about it, he's already back on his feet, and hell, he still might get drafted. He can finish turning it all around by staying out of trouble and balling at the next level--both things he's by and large proven himself capable of doing while at Iowa.

It is, in effect, just the next chapter in an ongoing story of redemption against long odds and personal hardships. Go ahead, tell DJK he can't do it, that he can't succeed. See what happens.

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