Jeremiah Masoli wants to remake his image. It’s understandable given all he’s gone through in the last four months, but can he do it? Can he change the public’s perception of him?
His road to recovery has started with the launch of a new website that is dedicated to painting as pretty a picture of him as possible. The site, appropriately named JeremiahMasoli.net, offers, among other things, a resume of his accomplishments, detailed accounts of media mistakes, and a timeline of events.
The timeline covers Masoli from birth to his dismissal from the University of Oregon football program after being charged with robbery. Curiously, Masoli states that he was never guilty of any crime but, rather, pleaded guilty to avoid serving any jail time.
Sports Illustrated writer, Michael McKnight, has taken on the challenge of retelling the story of what really happened on that fateful night–the hope being that people will see Masoli in a less-menacing light.
After reading the article, listening to the 911 call, and perusing the police report, it is clear that the events of that night, as translated by the media, could have been slightly over-exaggerated.
For one, the belongings of both victims were never found. In fact, the only item that was visibly seen was a projector that was returned by Garrett Embry (Masoli’s teammate). The victim, Max Wolfard says that he confiscated the item, which he identified as his, from Embry after a brief chase.
Wolfard stated that he didn’t see Masoli with any of the missing items but alleged that Masoli’s baggy clothing could have hid them from view.
Secondly, Wolfard acknowleged that entry into his residence and his room required the proper key and code. Masoli nor Embry were residents of the house, so in order for either of them to have gained access to Wolfard’s belongings, they would need help. Did they have any?
Even more, how could Wolfard be certain that one of the guests of the house or one of his fraternity brothers in general didn’t steal the items? It’s a valid question given the fact that none of the items were ever recovered.
That said, it would have been easy for an investigation of the crime to net nothing more than a finger-pointing at one guy from another. The chance that Masoli would have served one day in jail based on circumstantial evidence seems unlikely—I’m not a lawyer, but I just don’t see where anything in the police report damages Masoli…until, of course, he lied.
Masoli’s decision to try and disconnect himself from the events of that night by proclaiming to have been somewhere else was a dumb move. He admits as much in the SI article. The problem is, the fact that he admits it now, doesn’t erase the perception it created in the minds of everyone else back then—he lied once, why should I believe he isn’t lying now too?
His reason for the deception was understandable, given all he had to lose, but what he needs to understand is that the impression he gave is one that isn’t flattering. He wants people to understand that he only lied because he didn’t wish to be associated with the negativity that such an allegation would have placed upon him but, honestly, did he expect that lie to hold up given his popularity?
If he had told the truth, things may not have turned out nearly as badly as they did for him. As it were, even with the lies, his coach was willing to keep him on at Oregon. His suspension didn’t come until after he made another poor decision to drive with marijuana in his possession—again, he seems to have trouble making good decision.
While I can understand what Masoli is trying to do by offering a new account of an old story, the fact that he initially lied makes it difficult to believe he didn’t have some measure of involvement in the crime. If nothing more, he had to know that his former teammate, Garrett Embry was doing something wrong so why didn’t he stop him or, if nothing else, refuse to leave the scene with him?
The story that McKnight paints may appear to make Masoli look like a misunderstood victim, but truth be told, it makes it look like Masoli lacks leadership ability or the proper maturity to know when to stand tall and when to back down.
He could finally be on the right track with his recent positive media blitz, but unless he starts making the right decisions, no matter the circumstances, he will falter again—hopefully, he finally has his act together.