Dear Coach Pinkel

Updated below

Tonight I sit here in South Carolina and look at my wife. She’s wearing a fleece with a tiger on the back. Today, I drove my car to the gym. It has a tiger on the front license plate. All winter long, I wore a Mizzou pullover. I have a cap I wear everywhere with a tiger above the bill. There aren’t a lot of Mizzou fans here in the Palmetto State, but those of us who are here fly the colors with pride.

I graduated from Mizzou in 1997. In my time there, I don’t think I missed a football game. I was an Antler. I sat front row on the 50-yard line for season after season. I did push-ups with Truman on the grass around Faurot Field. I love Mizzou. I’m proud to have gone there.

A few days ago, my son asked for a new Mizzou jersey. He’s outgrown his Chase Daniel #10, and he needs some new black and gold to flash around down here in Gamecock country. When I asked him what kind of jersey he might like, he asked for #15. He wanted to wear Dorial Green-Beckham’s number.

See, back in December of 2011, my dad had just died. I had my family back in Missouri, and it was a tough time. In an effort to show my older son some sense normalcy, I took him to see my alma mater Willard High School play Hillcrest High in basketball.

“See that big guy?” I said to my son from the stands. “That’s Dorial Green-Beckham. Wouldn’t it be great to see him play football for Mizzou?”

And it was.

When the guy from my hometown came out on the Mizzou field in his #15 jersey, there wasn’t a person in my family who didn’t scream “DGB!” We wanted Green-Beckham to succeed. We wanted him to be Mizzou’s biggest star. We wanted him to be the guy from my hometown who made it to the NFL.

Arizona State Sun Devils vs Missouri Tigers

When Green-Beckham got busted for weed the first time, it made me uncomfortable. I, like so many don’t have a moral objection to marijuana, although the current policies in professional sports leagues certainly are less forgiving when it comes to it, but Green-Beckham did show a certain lack of respect for himself. He got into a situation that could jeopardize his reputation and, by extension, the team’s reputation. It was easily forgivable though. Just as I forgave your DUI—we all make mistakes—I hoped that Green-Beckham and his family would understand that to be a role model, you have to act like one.

When he got busted again this year—again for weed—I started to worry. Once is a mistake. The second time begins a pattern. It not only showed that Green-Beckham was adrift, but it showed that people like his coaches, family, and friends weren’t paying close enough attention. Again, the weed doesn’t bother me, but disrespect for his station in life does. Still, I would’ve put a #15 jersey on my kid’s back and hoped DGB found a way to grow up and respect himself and his team.

But now I’m at a loss. The news from Columbia today indicates that the only reason my kid’s hero is not in a cell right now is because the victim of Green-Beckham’s alleged violence wouldn’t press charges. The text messages released by the police suggest that the victim made this decision after a great many conversations with Green-Beckham’s girlfriend. Those conversations indicate Green-Beckham’s girlfriend begged the victim to consider Green-Beckham’s potential NFL career. The conversations indicate Green-Beckham’s father was offering money to back down.They indicate a lot more than that, and all of it is terrible.

I don’t know what’s true, but if even part of what police released is fact, I don’t see how you could welcome Green-Beckham back to the Tiger team. Forgiving indiscretions with harmless drugs—even twice—is acceptable. But this? I don’t know how this can be forgiven.

There is part of me—the journalist trained at Mizzou—that needs to hear the other side before reaching a conclusion. That part wants to believe Green-Beckham, the kid from my hometown who could’ve been a star, is being set up, extorted, or confused with some other out-of-control kid with exceptional athletic talent. And I will wait for that. If he or you have an explanation, please offer it. Publicly. Stand before the cameras and put up the best defense you possibly can.

Because this must be explained. Weed arrests are forgivable, but violence against women in any form is not, no matter what kind of career is on the line.

Coach Pinkel, if no explanation exists, if this is a situation in which there might be a crime but there are no charges, I don’t see where you have a choice. Green-Beckham might have been a hero. He might have been the #1 pick in the nation. He might have been the biggest signing you’ve had at Mizzou. He might be the guy who could make the difference in the upcoming season. Even so, if there is no reasonable explanation for today’s news, you have to let #15 go.


Because my kid wants a #15 jersey right now. My kid wants to sit with me and watch Mizzou games and cheer for the same Tigers who made us proud last season.

When you and the rest of the team took the opportunity to “Stand With Sam,” I was the proudest Mizzou fan around. It made me sure I was rooting for the right team in college sports. If losing DGB means you have a losing season, I will still stand proud and support you. That’s what I want to believe Mizzou is all about.

Next September, you’re coming down to South Carolina, and I promised my kids I would take them to see Mizzou play the Gamecocks. I’ve got a dozen Mizzou fans ready to come down here from Missouri and cheer on the Tigers with me. Please let me do that with a clear conscience. I can explain to my kids that Green-Beckham doesn’t play for the Tigers anymore. I’m not sure I could explain to them how I’m rooting for a coach who values winning over doing what’s right.


Update: Friday afternoon, April 11, the Missouri Tiger football team dismissed Dorial Green-Beckham.

I was amazed at the feedback this little piece got, but it reaffirmed my belief that Missouri fans couldn’t abide Coach Pinkel accepting DGB back on the team. The coach is an honorable man, and he’s proven it again by making a very, very tough decision to cut one of his most important players. Pinkel deserves our respect for that.

Meanwhile, I hope Dorial Green-Beckham finds a way to become a better man and atone for whatever he has done wrong. If he does that, I hope he can find success with another team some day in the future.


Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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33 Responses

  1. Darren says:

    This is very well worded. I feel the same way. And there is no better feeling than to read something I found on fb and see my High School named. Willard. I hope coach Pinkel gets his head together. We can do it without dgb.

  2. Soggy says:

    Agree with you regarding the assault, but I disagree regarding marijuana. You say “It not only showed that Green-Beckham was adrift, but it showed that people like his coaches, family, and friends weren’t paying close enough attention.” I couldn’t disagree more. I think it showed that our country continues to use antiquated drug laws as a means to target and imprison minorities. Marijuana is a hugely positive drug, and I think its HEROIC to stand up for its usage despite the consequences like DGB did. These antiquated laws, which may one day prevent your child from getting the medicine his doctor prescribes him, are a much bigger threat to your son’s wellbeing than anything DGB has done imo.

  3. Kyle says:

    Soggy, this is not about the legality or potential benefits of Marijuana. The point is, he broke the rules more than once. If they made a rule telling him not to drink orange juice and he agreed to it, he shouldn’t drink orange juice. It is not heroic for him to disobey his coaches and break the rules. Rules are rules no matter how you feel about them personally. Save the legality debate for Capital Hill, not for the NCAA.

  4. Stacy says:

    The problem with your article is that your beloved Coach Pinkel seems to be a major player in helping disguise this man’s violent past. In those text messages DGB’s ex-girlfriend sent to the other victim of domestic violence caused by DGB was that she was talked out of pressing charges for her own domestic violence by the coaching staff. It sounds like a terrible program all around. This is not a program I would want my young sons and daughters cheering. I will stick to a program with a little more morality.

  5. Emily j says:

    As a woman who has a son, I couldn’t have put it better myself. I am best friends with Dorial’s girlfriend and I couldn’t be more disappointed in her. You nailed it. Excellent job.

  6. Nick says:

    I agree with majority of what the author says. The only thing I take issue with is the thought that his teammates, family, and coaches were not paying enough attention to him. Sometimes no matter how much time and effort you put in with people, it still doesn’t pan out. The kid won’t change unless he truly wants to change. Everyone can talk until they are blue in the face but he is the one who needs to make the changes

  7. Brad Willis says:

    Nick, my wife (also a Mizzou grad, and my in-house editor) made the same comments before I published this piece last night.

    I agree that people will only change if they want to change. I probably should have driven my point home a little harder on this subject, which was that when we’re dealing with people as young as Dorial Green-Beckham, we adults might have a responsibility to them beyond turning them into super athletes. If I was somebody who cared about Dorial as a person, I would do everything in my power to make sure he stayed on the right path. Of course, I’ve never been in that position, so it’s easy for me to armchair quarterback.

  8. Kim J says:

    When the kids family is offering money to cover up what he has done then they are to blame as well. You do the crime you pay the time. Our society is messed up to the core because of people just like that. You shouldn’t be able to buy your way out of trouble. Keep slapping him on the wrist and he will end up in prison for killing someone like Aaron Hernandez.

  9. Jared Cristy says:

    I agree with your points, a well said article. I fear public college or college for that matter for my daughter for these very reasons.
    Nick I agree that he needs to be held responsible for his actions and until he is he will not change.
    I personally have spent many years working with troubled youth and sadly they are not always willing to accept help no matter how much you try. Sometimes the most difficult thing is letting a child fail.

    All that said DGB did have a rough childhood bouncing through foster care. He needs help and he has fallen short. Much like I would not want to rail on someone for not using self control in their over eating but hope that they find some help. I would hope that we are not that guy in the glass house throwing stones. He needs serious help and by the letter of the regulations he is still going to be eligible to return.

  10. dan says:

    Loved the article. My only comment is if he wasn’t a scholarship kid he would be in jail. We protect athletes just so we can enjoy a sport.

  11. IL-MO says:

    Who cares as long as we are winning. DGB will be in the NFL draft next year so you’d need a new jersey anyways.

  12. Jenni says:

    Just read breaking news from KY3’s website in Springfield MO that DGB has been kicked off the team. Sad that he couldn’t keep his nose clean. Thanks for writing this letter! Well done.

  13. RJ says:

    I sincerely hope he can catch on at a pass-happy Eastwestcentral Somewhere State far from Springfield, put up some huge numbers and go No. 2 or 3 in the draft like a kid of his talent should. A dose of humility and a change of scenery might help him. An SEC spotlight clearly won’t. It is, unfortunately for all involved, the right call for all involved.

  14. Phyllis says:

    We said! Totally agree with your thoughts!! My husband and I would love to attend the game in South Carolina next season. If we can get tickets!! Maybe we’ll see you there. As of this post, DGB has been dismissed from the team.

  15. Chris says:

    Not to worry….in this day and age where morals and responsibilities don’t much exist, he will still become a pro and make millions…and he will be cheered by all the fans.

  16. Josh says:

    @Stacy : what “more moral program” might you be referring to? You leave your bias out, but conveniently forget to name this saintly school!
    Missouri finished no 2 in a division that everyone said that any big 12 team would easily be outmatched in, and they have chose to cut a player that I GUARANTEE your “more moral program” would eat a cat terd to have.
    I’m not talking about “getting over a hump”… I’m talking TOTAL DOMINATION. MIZZOU would have been unmatched and unstoppable.
    They chose HONOR over an even bigger chance (really, a guarantee) at achieving a sure, but tarnished glory.
    I’m proud of our team, and hope this spurs them even more to be no. 1 this year, as opposed to their no. 2, the last.
    Save your spin for the field. You’ll need it, if your “more moral program” ever darken the doorstep of Columbia, MO.

  17. Edenia Wisdom says:

    DGB was wrong and should be punished. He doesn’t deserve to be a Tiger nor does he deserve scholarships. I vote we take his scholarship and pay off my daughter’s MU education that she won’t get paid off for at least 20 years. This is so not fair to the upstanding MU students/graduates! I love Gary Pinkel and my heart just about stops every time I get to talk to him at Panera Bread, but he needs to lose this loser. What next? Will he kill someone? I’ve had a tough life due to medical problems…. raising 3 kids, working everyday until my medical problems prevented it almost 4 years ago but it doesn’t give me the right to break laws. Take his scholarships and kick him out of Mizzou!

  18. vicki says:

    If you look at the whole picture in perspective it goes farther. When a student athlete is given a scholarship for a sport, that is their job. They agree to work at their sport for the set amount of scholarship. Now I ask, is there anyone person that can tell me they would not be fired from their job for doing the things that DGB had done. And if you are a licensed professional such as a nurse or Dr. yo would lose your license to practice with drug use. Wow, why are we protecting him?

  19. Eva Fox says:

    I agree with part of what you are saying. However, it bothers me that you are sending the message to your child that marijuana is a harmless drug and is acceptable. I have worked in the nursing field for over 30 years and have witnessed firsthand the demise of numerous people who have used marijuana. I know some people believe that it should be legalized, but this country has an outstanding number of young people that are institutionalized for life due to drug and alcohol abuse. Much of the financial strains on our states are due to persons on public assistance who are not able to function on a day-to-day basis outside of an institution due to the affects of alcohol, marijuana, illegal drugs and abuse of legal drugs. To send such a message as that it is alright to overlook marijuana usage really bothers me.

  20. M. Blades says:

    WELL SAID. My husband and I share season tickets to Mizzou games, and, yes, we even went to South Carolina year before last to see Mizzou defeated by the Gamecocks. We are proud that Mizzou and Coach Pinkel had the intestinal fortitude to do what had to be done. What a shame that such a talented athlete has a two cent brain. Perhaps your son would enjoy a Mauk jersey? MIZ-ZOU

  21. Matt says:

    Stacy, sorry you’re way off base. Mizzou did the right thing. I think you should probably say you don’t like your son playing for the team that now picks up DBG.

  22. creig cox says:

    When you go to so much trouble to demand punishment for someone you do not know, a 1000 miles away, Be man enough to sign your name.

  23. Vicki Medley says:

    I totally agree with BW 100%, what he said was very true. I do hope DGB does get help and can turn himself around, but not as a Missouri Tiger. I have always been proud to be a Missouri Tiger and still am, but I am so humiliated by this type of behavior from someone that so many young folks looked up to. Coach Pinkel did the right thing to can DGB but he must not buckle and take him back!!!

  24. Magellan Taylor says:

    Very well written. Just wanted to quickly say that I am also a Mizzou fan here in gamecock country. I’m in Greenville and wear my black and gold with pride! Can’t wait for the game this fall!

  25. Magellan Taylor says:

    Oh, and another thing. I don’t know any other team more “moral” than one taking a stand and saying we aren’t going to tolerate this. DGB was given more than enough chances and hopefully losing this incredible opportunity will give him a reality check and realize he needs help. And personally, I’m not sure what team in the NFL would take him at this point- he is a risk and has too many off the field issues.

  26. Cb says:

    I started to laugh but then I realized how sad this article is. I’m not surprised what you deem as moral or important and I even agree with some of it. But you calling weed and getting a DUI as harmless and forgivable is incredibly sad. I know I know everyone on here will hammer me because of societies take on alcohol and drugs. That it’s ok. You said it yourself, harmless. Really? If your life is unfortunately altered forever because of a driver crashing into you or someone you love is that the speech you’ll give?? Perfectly harmless?? If we find out DGB was high at the time of the attack is that what this girls father should say?? Perfectly harmless?? And let’s not forget, forgivable. I love that if these allegations are true that mizzou fans want him out. But it sounds like mizzou fans are on a moral high- horse without any real morals. I know I will read a lot of but they didn’t hurt anyone responses but the fact is if someone fires a gun at someone with the intentions of harming them but misses you wouldn’t say “but they didn’t hurt anyone”. That is all. And GO!!

  27. TK says:

    It doesn’t matter if he was high at the time he committed the acts against the girls. Weed doesn’t make you a violent person, in fact quite the opposite. What matters is the violence.

    Not condoning his use of marijuana, it’s his job as a scholarship athlete to obey the rules. Also not saying marijuana is a reason for anyone to get arrested, barring driving under the influence which is obviously a no-no.

  28. Jestocost says:

    As much as I want to keep it all separate, Aldon Smith’s increasingly poor decision-making skills have to weigh on the Missouri program as well. At least my alma mater is only unionizing. My daughter has a bigger stake in the Mizzou situation.

  29. sas says:

    I went to school with DGB since middle school. I watched his climb to fame. When he hit high school he was given “special treatment”. His brother got sick with cancer and lost his family. Being introduced to the public at such an age is what started it. He missed classes because he was “talking with his dad (the coach).” I remember I was supposed to have art with him for a whole semester but he only showed up to class a Max of 6 times. I was concerned, I talked with the coach about possibly letting the glory get to him. The coach defended him, I turn around and hes staring at me with a look of wonder. I could see his question in his eyes, ‘why aren’t you worshiping me?’ I just looked at him and walked away. I asked as I was concerned. I also had to play at his choosing, I knew he let it all get to him and it made me sick. He was no longer a sencible person. I understood his past to a degree but I would never see myself skipping classes in his senior year! Graduation was sad when I saw people only cheer for him… something wrong when he skipped his classes and still gets to graduate? I knew he would have trouble in college, just not this extreme…

  30. Vicki says:

    Very interesting incite, thanks for sharing!!

  31. TeamDavis says:

    Thank you for sharing. First, I want to say I too was having trouble explaining to my teenage sons how an athlete or anyone for that matter, can make 2 & 3 major mistakes and still be allowed such great opportunities when that just isn’t real life. Second, I want to say that my family & I are HUGE MIZZOU fans till the end, win or lose. My 2 teenage sons hope to be a MIZZOU tiger! Finally, one mistake, I.E. first weed accusation (I say accusation because charges were never brought against him for unknown reasons) is 100% forgivable; everyone makes mistakes. However, when you are a role model, represent something bigger than just yourself, and have an education (scholarship of this magnitude) and professional athletic future offered to you because of your hard work, it is 100% unacceptable to allow even a 2nd chance. Would a second or third string receiver had the same cheek turned; even once? There are 100’s even 1000’s of young men & women that would love the offer and opportunity that DGB was given. I will always be a MIZZOU fan, but, if DGB wasn’t dismissed this time I would not be watching or attending another MIZZOU football game. We must all remember that one person/player DOES NOT make up a winning team. It’s unfortunate that it has come to this but it HAD to be done. We’ve done it without him before and we WILL do it again.



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