The Tennessee Volunteers signed prep school prospect Daniel Hood this week to much controversy, and not over his potential prowess on the gridiron. Instead, the hue and cry over Holden’s athletic scholarship is all about his background – the 19 year old prospect began attending Knoxville’s Catholic High School under police custody after being implicated in assisting the brutal rape of his cousin six years ago. According to testimony, Hood, thenh 13, assisted in binding his 14 year old cousins arms and legs with duct tape, and then stood by as his 17 year old friend put a hood over the girls head and raped her with a foreign object.

Now, in the ensuing 6 years, Hood has become, by all accounts, a model citizen. And I’m not going to argue whether he should have been granted a football scholarship from the University of Tennessee. There’s no law saying that horrible acts from your past should prevent you from playing college football, andf ultimately, that call lies with the program and coach Lane Kiffin.

What I do feel needs to be addressed is the way this incident and the current debate over Hood’s college ball career is being handled in the media. Take for example the lede from ESPN’s article by Chris Low

Daniel Hood, Tennessee’s newest and most controversial football signee, wishes he could take it all back and somehow undo the unspeakable harm inflicted that fateful night of Aug. 11, 2003.

He wishes he had acted decisively and courageously.

He wishes he had done something, anything. That is, anything other than freezing.

In point of fact, according to testimony in court, Hood did plenty but freeze. Hood, who according to court records from his 2004 trial felt “little guilt or remorse” helped to tie up his cousin, which on ESPN is addressed as freezing up. From Low’s article, we get the sense that Hood, as he puts it, “guilty of not being able to stop a rape.” 

As much as Hood, the University of Tennessee and apparently ESPN would like that to be the case, it simply doesn’t jibe with the facts. Hood may be genuinely remorseful for what he did six years ago. But until he addresses what he actually did, we just won’t know. And until someone calls this what it was – that is, being an accomplice to a rape, rather than a bystander who couldn’t stop one – it’s unlikely to be addressed.

And until it’s broken, that silence will continue to speak to how remorseful Hood actually is.