With repeated stories about athletes getting second chances and, too often, blowing them, it might be well to keep an eye on a Nebraska University football player and his progress.
Will he bungle his opportunity to atone and fall back into foolish ways as have so many other athletes in recent times?
Maurice Purify, a Nebraska wide receiver, got better than a second chance. He's been given a third and he says he is grateful, as he should be.
"I don't get another," Purify said as he began practicing with the Cornhuskers for the 2007 season. He still is suspended for the Sept. 1 NU season-opener for his role in a bar fight in Lincoln and a separate drunken driving conviction. Purify not only is trying to win back his job but also is eager to earn the respect of his teammates. He has a lot of people pulling for him, particularly Nebraskans - not just because of his efforts at rehabilitation, but because at 6-4 and 220 pounds, he is the team's top pass-receiver and scored seven touchdowns last fall. He is regarded as a top professional prospect and by now he must realize a lot of money is at stake if he falters again.
No more drinking, says Purify. He says if he is somewhere when liquor is in play, he has to leave: "Drinking never did anything for anybody. It's not going to be hard for me. I'm not an alcoholic. I don't need to be social at bars."
Nebraska officials have imposed strict academic and public service requirements on the young man and he knows he is on thin ice.
But many such people, including a number at Kansas and Kansas State universities, have been in similar circumstances and failed to change their ways. Purify, at a time when substance abuse scandals are touching so many athletic people from the high school level on up, has been given a major assist and seems to realize that, at least for now.
Too many "celebrities" such as sports stars have been coddled and pampered since they were about junior high age and have determined that laws and guidelines that apply to others are not aimed at them. They seem to think they have some special license to indulge in bad behavior without penalty. It always seems to be "somebody else's fault."
It is hoped Purify and any other athlete who owns up to his challenges and succeeds in meeting them can take full advantage of a third chance for good citizenship and perhaps even athletic success that will pay off in dollars.