Josh Shaw: From Hero to Zero

Josh Shaw: From Hero to Zero

Paul Smyth

“I would do it again for whatever kid it was, it did not have to be my nephew. My ankles really hurt, but I am lucky to be surrounded by the best trainers and doctors in the world. I am taking my rehab one day at a time, and I hope to be back on the field as soon as possible.” These are the words of University of Southern California fifth year senior cornerback Josh Shaw. Just days after being named a team Captain, Shaw admitted Wednesday that the story of how he injured both his legs jumping off a third floor balcony to save his seven year old nephew was a complete fabrication.

Speculation arose early last week when people began to call the school claiming the story may not be true.  An investigation was opened by the university and on Wednesday, Shaw told USC head coach Steve Sarkisian that his statement and corroborating story were indeed lies.  Not all of Shaw’s story was a lie, as he confirmed that he was injured in a fall from a balcony. In light of what has happened, Shaw has hired attorney Donald Etra to deal with school officials.

Shaw, who started all 14 games for the Trojans last season, will be suspended indefinitely. He is the leader of a secondary that boasts plenty of talent but also quite a bit of youth.  However, Sarkisian has not ruled out the possibility of Shaw returning to the Trojans this season. “He’s got to take care of his health and take care of himself. When the time is right – and if the time is right – to bring him back, we will,” Sarkisian said.

When the story first broke, Josh Shaw was heralded as the ultimate hero. Many people took to social media to praise the 22-year old student athlete. His name was trending on Twitter and his picture graced Instagram pages. But those who once revered him have taken all of it back in a matter of days. Many have found comparisons between the Shaw incident and the 2012 scandal involving Manti Te’o, the former Notre Dame linebacker and current San Diego Charger who was involved in an online dating relationship that turned out to be a hoax.

Not only has Josh Shaw damaged his reputation as a reputable football player at USC, many fear that he will lack credibility with NFL scouts. Heading into this upcoming college football season, Shaw was projected to be an early round draft pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. In order to regain that status, he must first become healthy again to play football. When health is not an issue, Shaw will need to be reinstated onto the USC football team by Sarkisian and perform exceptionally well. He can’t bring distractions to a team that has to compete in an extremely competitive PAC 12 conference boasting six preseason top 25 teams.

My guess is that we haven’t heard the last of this story. There are too many holes to fill about what really happened to Josh Shaw last Saturday night. Early last week, the Los Angeles Police Department said a report was filed that night with a Josh Shaw being mentioned, but not as a suspect. ESPNLA.com also reports that witnesses saw a man who matched the description of Shaw jumping off the third floor balcony of Orsini Apartment Complex in Los Angeles where Shaw’s girlfriend lives.

 Whatever the outcome of Shaw’s saga,

the world will watch to see whether or not the University of Southern California can compete on the field without him and the distractions that have come from his actions. The Trojans have little time to adjust as they travel to northern California on September 6 in week two of the regular season to visit #11 Stanford (3:30 pm on ABC).

 If USC can compete at a high level without Shaw, his transition back into the lineup will be much easier. Josh Shaw needs to be out of the limelight as soon as possible to protect his own reputation and to minimize negative repercussions for the team. With or without Shaw, #15 USC will battle for their first PAC 12 crown since 2008.