There has been a ton of noise over last Saturday’s game between USC and Washington, and one would think it’s because we saw a legendary duel between two future first round draft picks in Caleb Williams and Michael Penix Jr., but that did not end up being the case.
After a hard fought and quite frankly exhausting performance by Caleb Williams and this USC offense that saw the game come down to the wire, Washington was eventually able to run down the Trojan defense and claim victory from the grasps of the Heisman hopeful. In the moments following this defeat camera panned to Williams heading to the stands and leaping into the arms of mother and sobbing.
Watching Caleb Williams sobbing with his family after losing the game will BREAK YOUR HEART. This young man pours his heart out for his team EVERY TIME he plays. Any NFL team would be lucky to have him as their QB and this emotion shows how much this game means to him. @CALEBcsw pic.twitter.com/BLBBE9IvG9
— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) November 5, 2023
There has been much made over this action, quite frankly too much. Opinions have flown from all levels of professional and social media weighing in on how this affects Williams’ ability to be a ‘leader of men’ or how franchises should evaluate this moment as ‘too emotional’. It is a sobering reminder that too often we see these athletes as less than human and certainly less than the young adults they are playing the game they love. It is no secret that, win or lose, Williams wears his emotions on his sleeves; he clearly loves the game of football to a perceived fault. To punish this young man in the draft room or in the media seems almost cruel to a person who left his heart and soul on the field that Saturday.
This dehumanization of athletes happens far too often, and this is just the latest example of it. Whether the false ideals of hyper-masculinity or the projected perception of what an athlete should be is to blame seems irrelevant at this point. We should embrace the highs and lows of the competitive nature of the figures we love to watch on Saturday and Sunday and let them exist in their highs and lows just like each of us. These athletes at the end of the day are just like you and me, and whether we admit it or not, couldn’t we all use a big hug from one of our parents?