Georgia Football: Support Arik Gilbert, Don’t Criticize

Arik Gilbert
Arik Gilbert /

Georgia football fans were so happy when Arik Gilbert decided to transfer from LSU and join the team in Athens. Since arriving, Gilbert has seen some struggles and is currently not practicing with the team.

Head coach Kirby Smart told the media Gilbert had a “personal issue” to deal with that he had his and his team’s full support. Regardless of the personal issue, Georgia fans should off their support and not question why he’s not practicing.

Now, this isn’t the first time Gilbert has spent time away from a team as he left LSU for a little because he was homesick. Clearly, something is going on with this young man, and instead of saying ‘next man up,’ think about what he is going through and show some sympathy.

His mentor, Georgia great Terrence Edwards, spoke with Dawg Nation Daily about the former five-star and what’s been going on with him. The former Bulldog wideout spoke about how instead of speculating, offer the young man some support.

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So many times when coaches talk about personal issues, fans assume the worst of the worst, and while sometimes that’s been the case in the past with some Georgia players, it’s time to stop that trend.

Fans want to know every little detail about what is going on with players, and while that’s understandable because we’re all so passionate about it — it’s not our business.

This situation is personal, and regardless of whether he plays for Georgia or not, we don’t need to know the situation.

We need to accept he has things going on and offer him empathy and support.

While “next man up” is often a fordable statement to use, it’s not the proper thing to use in this situation. No one knows what is going on with Gilbert, and while we can all speculate, no one knows but the inside party and those who should know.

The statement has plenty of meaning, but in this instance, the kid has never played a snap for Georgia, so how can we throw him to the side? There are times and places to use next man up, but this isn’t one.

This young man hasn’t done something wrong. He is going through something, and so many fans are like, ‘okay, he’s not there, so he doesn’t matter anymore.’

Yes, as a fan, we worry about who will be the starting tight end for Georgia, but at the same time, we don’t know that he won’t be back or not, so instead of just throwing this young man to the side like so many seem to be doing, choose some different wording.

The way Edwards spoke about Gilbert, it seems like his situation is serious, and people should be a little more sympathetic towards him. Show Gilbert that Dawg Nation understands life gets heavy and it’s okay not to be okay. Send him a prayer on social media, some positive thoughts.

We’re in a mental health crisis worldwide, and whether or not you think it’s a significant issue, understand that Gilbert is a human being, and words can hurt.

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I’m not saying every Georgia fan is like that, but there is a good chunk of people who only care about wins, not the players. These guys sacrifice their bodies every day to play the game they love, but they don’t owe fans anything at the end of the day.