I read your letter several times over the past few days, so I could really give it some time to sink in. I wanted desperately to believe (like the rest of Twitter and Facebook) that you had written something of value, something that came from the heart and showed a lot of humility and wisdom. I wanted to believe you were sharing something that could help a lot of people through tough places in their lives. I wanted to believe what I read was not a giant, steaming pile of bullshit.
Well, Josh, you can't bullshit a bullshitter.
I'm not speaking from a high horse either; we've both made some dumb decisions in our lives. I've spent a night or so in the drunk tank (yay college), been suspended from college (twice), driven after a few too many drinks (like an idiot), smoked my fair share of pot, and I'm pretty sure I've even fallen asleep in a Taco Bell parking lot. I am in no way judging you for any of the mistakes you've made in your life. I am judging you for having your head so far up your own ass.
Really? Charles Barkley, Stephen A. Smith and Cris Carter need to know you to criticize you or pass judgment? I get you are "only 23" so maybe you haven't learned this, but people judge you by your actions, not by your intentions, especially WHEN YOU'RE A CELEBRITY. Charles Barkley and Co. not knowing you is an irrelevant point you harped on for the entire letter, ignoring the fact you are one of the best athletes in the most popular sport of our culture and it's their job to talk about sports.
You feel that if they knew how tough your upbringing was, they wouldn't judge you so harshly for throwing away the opportunities that have been afforded to you. That's terrible logic to argue to three black men whose backgrounds are similar to yours. You don't really acknowledge the terrible example you are setting to the rest of the millions of African American children growing up in the same situation as you, reading you use that as an excuse for your bad decisions.
"Again, I make no excuses for my past. That culture didn't make me do anything I didn't want to do, but when you judge me without actually knowing me, you deny the existence of the world I come from."
No one is denying the existence of the world you came from - I don't even know what that means. This is what immature people do - they blame something in their past for the mistakes they make today. You actually wrote "this is not an excuse, but this is actually an excuse". No, we don't know you, Josh, but in the real world, you are the sum of the decisions you make - not the circumstances you were brought up in. I'll never give anyone shit for the dumb things they did in college, but we're talking about decisions you made as an adult. Own up.
"In connection with the DWI case, the league - in consideration of the fact that my blood-alcohol level was just .01 over the legal limit - agreed to shorten my punishment from four games lost to two. These games were tacked on to my eight-game suspension that had been levied on account of my inadvertently inhaling second-hand marijuana smoke last offseason."
Are you kidding me? You were "just .01 over the legal limit"? This is again, what immature people do - they minimize their mistakes to make them seem less bad. You're not fooling anyone. They say if you get caught drinking and driving once, you've probably done it 50 times before that. Would it have mattered if you slammed into a car full of kids and killed them when your BAC was "just .01 over the legal limit"? You're seriously an idiot for writing that.
Then you dropped the - "I tested positive for inadvertently inhaling second-hand marijuana smoke" lie. Yeah, I tried selling that to my parents when I was in high school. No one in the history of the world has ever tested positive in a drug test because of second-hand smoke. Minimize, skirt responsibility and blame someone else. Grow up.
Again, I'm not speaking from a place of superiority. I drink too much; I probably have a drinking problem. Most of my friends drink too much. I have absolutely gotten behind the wheel of a car after having too much to drink. I'm ashamed of that. Our problem is we love getting fucked up. Stop acting like you don't. Man up.
"It doesn't matter if I thought that the league-imposed restriction on drinking had expired at the end of the regular season; what matters is that I didn't confirm whether or not that was the case."
No, the problem is you're a jackass. Again, in the real world, there's no "ignorance of the law" excuse. If I knew my next fuck up would get me suspended from the NFL for a year - I'd sure as hell make sure I read the small print. Come on.
"If I have a "problem," it is that I am only 23 years old - with a lot left to learn. I've come a long way from those mean Fondren streets, but it's clear that I can be a better me. "
You don't get it, man. No one will give you a pass in life because your childhood was hard. No one is going to give you a pass because you're "only 23 years old". Your problem isn't your past; your problem is that you feel entitled; you think someone owes you something. Your problem is that in your version of the story, you're always the victim. No amount of minimizing or blame-shifting is ever going to fix the reality of your mistakes. I'm glad a lot of people felt sorry for you after reading your letter - but it's only because you gave them all permission to use their circumstances as an excuse for their failures.
"If you see me someday, Chuck, Stephen A., Cris, or any other well-intentioned person to whom this letter is directed, please come on over, shake my hand, and say hello. I won't be holding a grudge, but I will expect you to admit you were wrong about me."
Admit they were wrong how? A well-written letter full of bullshit doesn't change that you have a problem. If anything, it highlights that you are still in denial. It's a tough pill to swallow Josh, but it's an important lesson:
Perception is reality. However people perceive you - like it or not - is your reality.
You want to change other people perception of you? Don't write dumb ass letters full of excuses and crafted PR apologies. Be an adult and don't minimize your mistakes and blame them on your past. You are 23 years old, old enough to drink if you want, smoke pot if you want, sign contracts worth millions, and be the greatest athlete to play the game if you want - it's all up to you. But at this point you have to know that if you can't be true to yourself and stop making excuses, you'll never change the path you're heading down. You shouldn't expect that writing letters to people wiser, and more successful than you, is going to change people's minds.
Actions speak a hell of a lot louder than words.
A 25 year old who has made all the same mistakes you did.