Posted: 2:42 a.m. Friday, Sept. 27, 2013
PJ’s back and he’s gonna be in trouble…ok, bad song jokes aside and apologies to The Angels, PJ Hairston is back in practice, but not necessarily all the way back. A chastened Hairston apologized for his summer behavior and said this: “I am so sorry for the mistakes I made that brought such negative attention to the team, the University of North Carolina and my family. That’s not how I was brought up and it’s certainly not how coach Williams expects us to represent this program.”
This is very much a southern apology because of seven words: “that’s not how I was brought up.” In the South, it’s important to make clear that you and your family are not trashy people, that you have dignity and class. Put another way, that you are above some and some are below you. That’s no knock on Hairston, just a cultural aside. Class is a more significant concept here than it is in other parts of the country.
On the evening news, Leslie McDonald said he didn’t envy the intense workouts Hairston has endured at the hands of the coaching staff and Williams said he has removed his star player from leadership roles. This obviously includes being a captain, but also smaller things like deciding where to eat and so forth.
From the outside, then, Hairston’s internal punishment is largely invisible and easy to miss. The reality is that he has been ostracized and set apart from his peers due to his poor decisions and the only chance he has to rejoin them is to accept the humilations Williams and McDonald alluded to – and even then, he’s lost much of his status. It seems minor but it’s not when you’re dealing with human dynamics and emotions.
The last remaining question, and the key one, is just how many games he’ll miss. His internal punishment is one thing. His public punishment is what fans and the media will judge this by. If he’s back by the Kentucky game, as Hayes Permar taunted this summer, on top of UNC’s several scandals, it will be hard for many to take the punishment (or UNC) very seriously.