CRAWFORD | Hide your women, crab legs and cameras, Florida State has arrived in Louisville
Eric Crawford really didn't want to write this column -- then FSU walked right downtown and tried to big-time the whole city, demanding that it not be photographed while practicing at a public park. His thoughts ...
Wednesday, October 29th 2014, 10:56 pm EDT by
Thursday, October 30th 2014, 8:24 am EDT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Of course, the Florida State University football team did its pregame walk-through on the Great Lawn at Waterfront Park. And why not?
The defending national champions feel at home anywhere. Publix Grocery, public park, makes no difference.
Coach Jimbo Fisher gave the people a little treat on a beautiful fall day when he trotted his team from its Galt House hotel over to the lawn down by the Ohio River. Just, no pictures, please. Fisher knows his rights. Maybe you've heard, he's one of those law-and-order types. Tangle with FSU's lawyers at your own risk.
Yes, Fisher may have his team practicing in public, but it's a private activity, he says, so anyone who attempted to photograph the Seminoles was approached by an FSU team official and asked to stop. Or shouted at to stop.
That included WDRB News photographer Beth Peak, who came back to the newsroom saying she'd been sent away. Then WDRB News photographer Dominik Fuhrmann grabbed his camera and went back downtown, telling the FSU security person who approached him that, "I can shoot what I want, this is a public place."
To which the FSU person replied, "This is a private team."
Wait. Am I even allowed to write about them? I feel a little like Julian Assange here. Private? What is this, 2013? If nude celebrity photos on iCloud aren't private, then surely Florida State's entire team at a public park is fair game. Right?
Dominik got a few shots, then came on back. He did, after all, run track at Ole Miss, and therefore is complicit in the vast SEC/ESPN conspiracy against Fisher, Jameis Winston, and all things FSU.
Now, I want to stop right here in the interest of fairness. I understand, this little episode could portray FSU in a bad light. I know what you're thinking. A program that can barge into a public place in the United States and expect anyone passing through not to exercise their right to pull out a camera phone and click a photo might not be in touch with 2014 reality. (Do they have YouTube down at Florida State?)
They might think, for instance, that they can go into a grocery store and just walk out with something without paying, or maybe that when the city police call and ask a player to speak to them in connection with an investigation that they don't have to show up or cooperate in any way.
What is important for those of us in Kentucky to remember is the background of our visitors.
"Tallahassee," for instance, is an old Muskogean Indian word often translated as, "free crab legs."
Apparently, there are those who are sympathetic toward rather forceful requests like those issued at Waterfront Park Wednesday. For example, the first question Fisher took on the ACC Media conference call Wednesday was this:
"I've been watching a lot of stuff this weekend. With all the negativity with the program with the stuff with Florida State, how do you keep your players from listening to that garbage every day?"
Garbage? That question had everything but the words, "I'll hang up and listen."
Seriously, the truth of these things usually lies somewhere in the middle. Florida State and Fisher are better than the flood of bad pub they're getting. A lot of people within the program and the university are good people just trying to go about their business, and they get unfairly smeared when a few football types act with poor judgment. But FSU isn't beyond criticism, or NCAA rules, or the law. And the notion that they're somehow getting a raw deal from the media is laughable, given that I couldn't turn the TV on last season without seeing Winston or Tomahawk chops.
Nor are they immune from having their picture taken if they decide to go practice in a public place -- even if they did arrange ahead of time to reserve the venue. No pictures? Can you at least sign a few autographs for people? They have money. No, wait. Never mind.
Finally this: A Jameis Winston deep throw away from the walk-through was a Joe's Crab Shack restaurant. Are you asking us to believe that Fisher and his staff hadn't scouted that out? After the workout broke up, the whole team marched right by the place, in what could only be construed as gesture to the world in general, and maybe Jeff Ruby (who isn't serving crab legs while FSU is in town) in particular. You can imagine the gesture.
After all this, it might be worth reminding Fisher that the "S" in FSU still stands for "State," no matter how much he'd like to omit it from the team's initials altogether.
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