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Celebrities deserve basic human rights

Among the principles laid by the founding fathers of our country is the right to remain innocent until proven guilty when under accusation.

And while athletes and other celebrities in the public eye are often kept to higher standards than the average citizen, it does not mean they lose their basic rights.

Jacksonville Jaguars offensive guard Richard Collier was shot outside of a Riverside apartment complex at 3 a.m. Sept. 2. Collier’s shooting is the most recent in a string of athlete shootings, which in the last 18 months have taken the lives of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor and Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams. But these incidents are not all equal – or even similar – and must be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

In the immediate aftermath of Collier’s shooting, an explanation for the crime was a possible dispute involving Collier and a woman he met at a night club. But ESPN reported Sept. 9 that Sheriff John Rutherford said police don’t believe the shooting was the result of any earlier confrontation at a nightclub, but rather he was targeted.

Jaguar coach Jack Del Rio agreed.

“He was out last night, enjoying himself, having a good time, being responsible,” Del Rio said in the report. “I take offense to people that insinuate and call that a lack of discipline or a lack of responsibility. There are no rules about being out on a Monday night before your day off the following day.”

Opposed to the outlandish and vibrant personality of players like Adam “Pac-man” Jones who have lengthy rap-sheets, Collier’s teammates and coaches described him as a role model.

“He was very appreciative of everything that came his way, and a lot of guys are not like that,”  said Chris Hatcher, Collier’s coach at Valdosta State, in an ESPN article. “If you have one knock against him, it’s that he’s too nice.”

Although Collier is not one of the marquee names in the National Football League, his status as a professional player has given his situation broad media attention. But Collier was just a regular, hardworking guy taking a break on his day off. There is no evidence to suggest Collier was participating in any criminal or shunned activity. Is it fair to blame the mistakes of others on one who is yet to be proven the least bit guilty?

E-mail John Weidner at [email protected].

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