The Return of Jon Reschke - What Does It Mean?

The Return of Jon Reschke - What Does It Mean?

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The Return of Jon Reschke - What Does It Mean?

This past week at Big Ten Media Days, Mark Dantonio announced that Jon Reschke will return to the Michigan State program.  What does this mean, what does it signify, and how will it impact the 2018 Spartans?

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Let’s start with the football part of this.

Jon Reschke was in the process of becoming yet another dominant, athletic, vocal Michigan State linebacker with a good shot at playing in the NFL after completing a potentially stellar career at Michigan State.

At one point in the 2016 game at South Bend, Reschke almost singlehandedly gut punched the Fighting Irish and made plays that, at the time, seemed to indicate that Michigan State might be headed right back to the College Football Playoff.

Reschke’s interception – with a busted hand that was all wrapped up – was an amazing play athletically and it served to pretty much shut Notre Dame down – it can be found at the 3:30 mark in this highlight clip of Reschke’s overall performance that night in South Bend –

Reschke battled injuries for much of that awful 2016 season – and his absence on the field contributed to the 3-9 record.

But then the sky fell.

Reschke’s use of the “N-word” brought his life to a crashing halt (or maybe worse).

Whatever the dispute was that led to Reschke using that word, it, obviously, didn’t warrant that language.

Nothing warrants that language.

Period.

What happened next has probably kept Reschke up at night every night since.

Here’s what he flushed down the toilet:

His reputation.

His family’s reputation.

His opportunity to be a member of the team that was the focal point of his life.

His opportunity to, perhaps, achieve every football player’s dream of playing in the NFL.

His friendships with people who he spent every day with for years.

His dignity.

His integrity.

And probably more things.

He drifted away, into the wilderness.

From time to time, we all heard about his plans to go play at another school.

As he was working his way back into shape – in his garage? – he sustained some sort of injury that set him back even further.

And, for the most part, he became a forgotten person.

Earlier this year, however, it became known that he had made overtures to Mark Dantonio and the Spartan program.

Reshcke was wondering if there was room for an opportunity to apologize to the people he offended in the worst way possible.

Stop and think about the worst things you’ve said and done in your life and ask yourself if you’ve ever stood up in front of a hundred+ people and apologized for those things.

Stop and think about those worst things you’ve said or done in your life and ask yourself if they’ve been reported on across all news outlets and tv stations in America.

Stop and think about those worst things you’ve ever said or done in your life and ask yourself if the people to whom you did those things offered you a chance to redeem yourself.

Redemption.

Don’t we all strive to redeem ourselves when we make horrible decisions?

Some of us do, I think.

What Reschke “said” (it was a text) is pretty much unforgettable.

But is it forgivable?

The answer to that question appears to be a resounding YES.

You might not forgive him – but to the people that matter most in this whole scenario, what you think doesn’t matter.

I spoke with LJ Scott about the entire thing at Big Ten Media Days and LJ said this:

“I know Jon.  I hang with Jon.  We all know Jon.  He’s our brother.  He knows he made a mistake.  I’ve made a lot of mistakes.  And the black guys on the team voted unanimously to bring him back on the team.  The younger black guys who don’t even know him – those guys said, ‘Who cares what he said? Can he help us win?’  What does that say about whether or not this is ‘controversial’ with us.  And, really, we’re the only people who matter in this thing with Jon.  We want him back.  He’s our teammate.  He’s our brother.”

Mark Dantonio’s approach to this has been met with lots of criticism – that criticism goes something like this:

“Oh – great.  He’s leaving it up to the players.  That’s like the nuthouse being run by the nuts.”

Those people probably have never said or done anything wrong in their lives so they can go right ahead and judge the way Mark Dantonio runs the program that is his responsibility.

Responsibility.

What is Mark Dantonio’s responsibility?

To win games?

Of course?

To beat UMAA?

INDEED.

To help the kids that come to Michigan State to play football for him learn and grow and understand how to make themselves better people – particularly after they’ve done or said something really, really stupid and horrible?

Yes.

If you’d like to, you can go ahead and laugh at the corny nature of the notion that a big time college football coach in 2018 has a responsibility to help kids grow.

Laughing at that notion would be the cynical perspective.

It would also be wrong.

And while we all snipe and snicker at the decisions made by coaches in these situations (I’ve done it countless times), it certainly is possible – perhaps even probable – that a lot of the decisions are driven by what’s best for the coach and the team’s ability to win.

But in the case of Jon Reschke, I’m of the opinion that a man (Mark Dantonio) had an opportunity to give a young man (Jon Reschke) a chance at redemption.

And when Mark Dantonio saw that LJ Scott and every single African American player in his program – kids that he is responsible for – supported the idea of Jon Reschke rejoining the team, it seems to me that Dantonio’s decision was an easy one.

To be sure, Dantonio continues to say that this is a “step by step” process.

Translation – “I’ve told Reschke and our team that we’re all going to need to work on this together, that we’re going to have to be supportive of one another, and that if anyone gets the feeling that they aren’t comfortable with this, they just come right to me and make that clear to me and we deal with it appropriately.”

Here’s what all of this does:

Contrary to what some want to think, this improves team chemistry.

This doesn’t weaken anything.

This strengthens everything.

The man in charge is showing the kids who are a part of his program that redemption is possible – not just during their sliver of time as a football player at Michigan State but throughout their lives.

But, redemption must be earned.

According to the players on the Michigan State football team, Reschke has earned his chance at redemption.

And for anyone that thinks Reschke hasn’t been “punished” properly, rethink what the last 18 or so months have been like for him.

Have you ever gone through that sort of punishment?

When you were 21 years old, did you make a mistake like that and go through the very public punishment he’s gone through?

If you did, what would you have felt like if you were given another chance at showing everyone who you really are?

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