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Nebraska Football Captains’ Actions have No Place in Riley’s Program

Alex Lewis

Alex Lewis

Last June, Nebraska offensive tackle Alex Lewis was voted a team captain and why not? He was a senior-to-be, one of few near locks to start and hopefully could take some of the young guns under his wing.

Perhaps those who voted for the lineman are having second thoughts following the Huskers’ gut-wrenching 36-33 overtime loss to the Miami Hurricanes.

There were plenty of opportunities for Nebraska to take over the game and not need an overtime period to win. However, Nebraska tacked 23 points on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter and earned the opportunity.

Following an interception thrown by Tommy Armstrong, Lewis would belt Miami’s Corn Elder once he’d clearly given up on an attempted pick-six and immediately usher the ‘Canes into field goal range thanks to the resulting penalty.

A captain knows better than to make such a reckless (and dangerous) move, but one also knows better than to get lost in their emotions.

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Related: Knee-Jerk Reactions from Nebraska's Loss Against Miami

Social media is both a blessing and a curse for college athletes.

If a player wants to expose themselves to it, they must realize that there will be plenty of good, but a metric ton of bad when fans are angered and not about their wits.

I’ve often publicly advised athletes/recruits to make their accounts private if they feel things are getting out of hand.

My public announcement apparently didn’t reach Lewis as he sent a scathing Facebook post out late last Saturday night:

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"I'm done playing for the state of the Nebraska,” Lewis’ post started. "You want to blame me for the loss, that's fine! But I have done every thing right to prove I belong and yet you im not a husker! So you want to see what Alex Lewis is about?

Then sit back and criticize because I'm going to prove to myself and my family and my family that i am better than these fair weather fans that themselve (sic) huskers! You have let loose a storm that the huskers havent seen seen since 95 and you will kiss my feet when im done with you!

So screw everyone who ever doubts me. Aka the whole state of Nebraska, who said i was not nebraska worthy since my arrest!"

Not exactly how to win friends and influence people, but these aren’t the words of a captain whose mindset grooves with one in Mike Riley’s Nebraska football program.

The football program produced a hype video last February featuring a Riley-narrated letter.

Immediately Riley’s voice begins with, “This is Nebraska. A program built on integrity, trust, loyalty, teamwork and respect.” It’s appropriate that Riley ends with “respect” as he goes on to define the word as he no doubt feels it’s represented.

“Respect is a simple word built on a simple idea. Every day the choices you make are writing your story, building your identity. When you respect those choices, when you respect yourself and you wake up every morning asking yourself “How can I get better today?”

“How can I represent myself, my teammates and this program in a way that makes us all proud to have that ‘N’ on our chests? Just think about that.”

Riley goes on, but you get the jist.

Lewis has 11 games left in his college football career assuming Nebraska makes it to the Big Ten Championship Game. His legacy has taken a major hit much like the one Elder took in South Beach.

He can’t erase what he’s done, but he can show what a captain does after he makes a major mistake.

Out of a team of 100-plus, Lewis was voted as one of six leaders by his peers.

Captains can make mistakes, they’re human, but they also know how to be humble and accept responsibility for their actions.

— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to follow Brandon on Twitter @eightlaces and Periscope (eightlaces), and like his Facebook page.