The Eastern Michigan University athletic department announced Tuesday in a story on its website that construction on “The Factory” – the nickname it gave to Rynearson Stadium – "was complete":http://emueagles.com/news/2014/8/4/FB_0804140218.aspx?path=football.
There’s only one thing wrong – it’s not.
Jeremy Rosenberg of Eagle Totem, Eastern’s foremost – and in the opinion of this columnist, best – blog covering sports at the university, made a great "argument":http://eagletotem.net/blog/2014/07/22/put-reed-ring-honor/7638/ a couple of weeks ago while I was out of town.
I join Rosenberg and Eagle Totem in formally calling on Heather Lyke and the athletic department to add the name of slain former wide receiver Demarius Reed to the ring of honor at Rynearson and retire his jersey before the season starts in a little over three weeks.
Football coach Chris Creighton and his team took a step towards formally honoring Reed on "July 18":https://twitter.com/_dscott_1/status/490130312072933376, while the new grey turf was being installed, by burying his jersey under it. Later that day, the first defendant in Reed’s death, Kristopher Pratt, "pleaded guilty":http://www.easternecho.com/article/2014/07/first-defendant-pleads-guilty-in-shooting-of-demarius-reed to second-degree murder, taking a plea bargain in order to testify against Ed Thomas, who was found not guilty "10 days later":http://www.easternecho.com/article/2014/07/jury-finds-ed-thomas-not-guilty-on-all-counts-in-murder-of-demarius-reed.
In that case, the athletic department stayed quiet – issuing no statements, and even telling the Echo’s Drew Saunders and me that no statement would be issued, even after the final verdict was reached. That was definitely disappointing, but a deputy athletic director was "hired":http://www.easternecho.com/article/2014/07/emu-hires-deputy-athletic-director earlier that afternoon, so it was a busy day. Yeah, we’ll go with that.
The team honored its fallen brother by burying his jersey – the least the department can do is place Reed’s name among the other names, such as Elton Rynearson – after whom the stadium was initially named, and TJ Lang, who won a Super Bowl ring with the Green Bay Packers in 2011.
Like Rosenberg said in his blog, and the stats will back up, Reed was definitely not a stand-out on the field, but he was well-liked by his teammates and senselessly killed. Emotions are still running high, and I suspect they will for some time.
While the legal system has run its course in this matter, there is still no closure. Especially when the unsolved murder of another EMU student, Julia Niswender – killed in her Peninsular Place apartment in 2012 – still looms over the heads of the EMU family. Pratt will be out of jail in 18-30 years while Thomas will serve no time. Reed will not be coming back. Putting his name forever on the walls of Rynearson Stadium and ensuring that nobody else wears the number 2 will serve as a permanent reminder of a young man – who could have been anyone’s brother – who was taken far too soon.
Follow Al Willman on Twitter: "@AlWillmanEcho ":http://twitter.com/alwillmanecho