Shots Fired, Opportunity Blown

R.I.P. Brandon Falkner 1979-2005

Immigrants call the United States the land of endless opportunities. Loren Wade, who was suspended from the ASU team virtually all of last season, was living proof of that saying. He was cleared to practice, and stood a chance to play in 2005 and be an integral part of the maroon and gold offense. His alleged first-degree murder crime not only leaves the Sun Devils enraged and shocked, but has in all likelihood closed the door for any chance at a successful future on and off the field.

Not to trivialize the alleged heinous crime committed by Wade against Brandon Falkner, but this scenario has unfortunately become commonplace in our country's sports in the last few decades: Gifted athletes breaking the law, and flushing down the drain a lucrative financial and professional future that their fans can only dream of. Sun Devil fans have seen with former players such as Hakim Hill and Daryl Lightfoot commit crime after crime, until they ultimately force themselves out of the team. No matter how many times we hear such stories, we are left scratching our heads more and more after each incident

Loren Wade's tenure at Arizona State was relatively clean compared to the after mentioned players. In fact, even his most serious transgression was a non-violent act, which would equate to a "white-collar" crime. The former running back allegedly violated NCAA rules by accepting illegal monetary benefits. Thus, it would be impossible for any member of the ASU Athletic Department to "read the writing on the wall" and expect Wade to commit a violent felony following that violation. If nothing else, it was reasonable to anticipate that the running back would learn his lesson and be a model citizen who is grateful for a new lease of life.

The school has exhibited much patience with Wade after his wrongdoing last year. Once it was learned that he violated NCAA rules, that can still have long-term implications on the Athletic Department, fans would probably applaud his dismissal from the team and the school. Yet, the team kept him as part of their family. Following the 2004 season he did participate in the off-season conditioning workouts. Albeit by default, he was for all intents and purposes, the undisputed #1 running back going into spring practice.

How paradoxical that at such a time of renewal and a fresh start, he showed anything but patience and not to mention sound judgment, when he took Brandon Falkner's life. How tragically ironic that he ended the life of another member of the ASU family, without even knowing that he and the victim once shared the same uniform.

With a few blown shots from a gun, Loren Wade has wasted his chance at redemption. During his legal proceedings he will undoubtedly ask for mercy and another opportunity in order to avoid a severe punishment. But much like the game of football, he'll probably realize that he failed to follow his blocker or hit the hole in a timely fashion, thus turning over the pigskin on downs. The ball now is in someone else's hands, namely the state's prosecutors and judges, and they are likely not willing to give him the ball back.

Rest in peace Brandon Falkner. The Sun Devil nation mourns your death and sends your family and friends the deepest of condolences.

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