JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

Dwayne Jarrett

The Carolina Panthers released Dwayne Jarrett today after his second DWI arrest in less than three years.

A 24-year-old wide receiver, Jarrett was an incredibly hyped player at USC back in the day. His NFL time, however, has been lathered by problems and mediocrity. Over four seasons, he has 35 catches. Jarrett and Steve Smith both came out of USC the same year, and many people assumed the Panthers got the better player. Nope.

I find guys like Jarrett fascinating—big-time collegiate players who just can’t cut it at the next level. Just today, while driving to pick up my daughter at school, I was trying to remember the Miami quarterback who contended for the Heisman a bunch of years ago. I kept thinking … thinking … thinking. Then the name–Ken Dorsey—popped into my cranium. Where in the world is Ken Dorsey these days, I wondered. Looked it up a few seconds ago: He’s in Toronto, backing up Cleo Lemon with the Argonauts of the CFL. Bet he wasn’t planning on taking that route seven years ago.

The list of these guys is endless—Jay Barker and I.M. Hipp; Gino Torretta and Giovanni Carmazzi; Scott Frost and Jason White and Troy Smith and on and on and on and on. You sort of assume that collegiate stardom=NFL stardom. But it just doesn’t. The game is soooo much faster; the planning significantly more complex; the politics deeper and more vicious. I also think the NFL—for all its splendor—isn’t nearly as fun as playing college ball. The innocent joy is gone.