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In the most entertaining football game played on Thanksgiving Day, University of Mississippi wide receiver Elijah Moore caught a touchdown pass with 4 seconds left to bring Ole Miss within one point of arch-rival Mississippi State University in a game known as the Egg Bowl.

The drama then should have been, will Ole Miss go for the 2-point conversion and the win or merely kick the extra point, tie the game and go to overtime? Except Moore didn’t celebrate the biggest catch of his life by hugging his teammates or jumping into the stands or even with any of the grudgingly accepted “look at me” responses to a TD.

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Instead, he got down on all fours like a dog, lifted his leg and pretended to urinate all over the field, drawing a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty.

If you know karma, you know what happened next. The 15-yard penalty was assessed meaning the extra point was no longer a chip shot. The kicker missed and Ole Miss lost, 21-20.

After the game, Moore fell back on the excuse everyone seems to use they mess up big time, releasing a statement that said, in part, “It does not represent who I am.”

That would, of course, be a little easier to believe except that, two years ago, a different player had celebrated in much the same way in the Egg Bowl. Moore knew that, thought about it, and couldn’t wait for his chance to do the same.

Not who he is? Please. It’s exactly who he is.

The response was reminiscent of Cleveland Browns coach Freddie Kitchens a few weeks ago, minutes after his player, Myles Garrett, ripped off Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph’s helmet, swung it and connected with Rudolph’s cranium, saying, of Garrett, that’s not who he is. Which sounded a lot like what Garrett said when he was accused of being a dirty player back in September: “That’s not me.”

Sure it is.

Our actions — particularly our spur-of-the-moment, emotional actions and reactions — are much more representative of who we are than the orchestrated responses we come up with after careful thought and planning. That’s why an on-the-spot, sincere apology means so much more than a carefully worded statement days later, even when that one comes complete with a plan to “prove” what’s being said is true.

“That’s not who I am” is the default setting for those who make mistakes or are accused of making mistakes. “I couldn’t have [insert offense here]. That’s not who I am.”

Maybe our actions don’t represent the way we see ourselves, but they are exactly how others see and define us. Our actions define us.

It’s often the the famous athlete or actor or singer who falls back on “That’s not who I am,” or “That’s not me” or “That’s not what we’re all about,” but it’s available to anyone. Someone whose actions and photo appeared in our paper last week under not the best circumstances called to assure me, “That’s not what I’m really like.”

Now, here’s the caveat. While our action are who we are today, that doesn’t mean we can’t work to prove those actions aren’t who we become. There are second acts and we love nothing more than seeing someone make meaningful change.

We showcased such a change on Thanksgiving Day. A decade or so ago, Michael Griesser was defined by his actions. He was a felon with a drug addiction. Perhaps he believed he was more than that, but what did words mean when there was so much evidence to the contrary? Instead, he spent years redefining himself, as a sober, hardworking family man.

Good for him. There’s no reason Elijah Moore can’t make a similar transformation. If he doesn’t want to be forever known as the guy whose urination celebration cost his team the biggest game of the year, he needs to set about showing he really isn’t that person.

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Just saying it doesn’t make it so.

Bob Blubaugh is the editor of the Carroll County Times. His column appears Sundays. Email him at bob.blubaugh@carrollcountytimes.com.

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