It could have been easy for Coach Graham, Anthony Gonzalez and Pitt to bury this. To put the whole negative story out of sight.
We all know the drill. Player under suspension is declared off-limits to the media for the duration. It’s couched in a way to argue that he should not be a distraction to the team and what they are trying to do. To make it into an example of the team coming first. Then after Gonzalez serves his two game suspension, lift the restriction. By then, however, the season is underway. So is the Steelers season. So how much interest is there in talking to the 2nd or 3d string QB about an arrest from back in June that will eventually be expunged? Even if the story does happen, it is such old-news that it is mostly ignored. It’s a time-honored PR tactic to delay and bury a negative story.
That didn’t happen. On the very first day of practice. With all the local media on-hand, Anthony Gonzalez did interviews and talked about his mistake.
He acknowledged that it cost him a big opportunity, especially coupled with the timing.
“I deserve what I got, and I’ve learned from it,” Gonzalez said.
“I should have never put myself in that situation. I should not have never been there [in a car with some friends, where the arrest occurred]. I’m just ready to move on and be a part of this team.”
Gonzalez, who applied for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition of his possession charge and will be arraigned Sept. 1, said he felt like he let the team down.
He knew it was an especially bad time to get in trouble because it came on the heels of a Sports Illustrated article, published in March, which reported that Pitt had the most players arrested (22) of any program ranked in the magazine’s 2010 preseason Top 25 poll.
“With Pitt being the No. 1 team [in players arrested], then me just adding on to that … I was disappointed in myself and also disappointed in doing that to the team and the coaches,” Gonzalez said.
“I also had a big chance of playing and being productive … but it is all over with now.
“I just need to learn from it and keep moving on, and when something sets you back, you have to keep pushing forward.”
Gonzalez is technically able to compete for the back-up job, but with the suspension for the first 2 games — the games most likely to be blowout easy wins — it doesn’t seem likely to happen. He isn’t going to get an opportunity to get a chance to play some series with the offense in a game situation.
He’s clearly determined to make the best of the situation, and that’s really all he can do at this point. Make amends and be ready if the opportunity comes.