Is Tennessee Football Above the Law?

And must female athletes live to a different standard than male athletes? Those are the final questions in the trial of A.J. Johnson and Michael Williams.

Marky Billson, Host of Tri-Cities Sports NOW

Some final thoughts on the trial of A.J. Johnson and Michael Williams, two former University of Tennessee football players who were found not guilty of rape on Friday.

It was disappointing Johnson said “I trusted in God” after his acquittal.

He turned the Lord into a cliché. Then again, standing accused for rape could make one find religion.

Why is it relevant to say the accuser had sex with Johnson twice prior to her accusation that both Johnson and Williams violated her? Anyone who knows the story of Francine and Mickey Hughes of Burning Bed fame could tell you that is not relevant.

Why is there a liaison between the Knoxville Police Department and a football team? Is it to tip off the team when a circumstance like this occurs?

And did that tip off from Butch Jones to his players allow Johnson and Williams to destroy evidence? When police arrived with a search warrant at the apartment the circumstance in question took place it had been cleaned.

How did UT have the power to demand questioning of witnesses be held at their complex, with an assistant athletic director present, and not at the police station?

If Johnson and Williams had nothing to hide, why was Drae Bowles bullied when he came to the accuser’s aid?

If the defense’s claim that she only cried rape after she feared others at the party knew what she had done, which would be take part in a menage a trois, then there is a culture in the Tennessee athletic department where men who would engage in such activity are macho, but a female athlete who does is a slut. So why is it okay for one gender to be kinky but not another?

And with that culture out in the open, how will that affect Lady Vols recruiting in the future?

The testimony that allowed Johnson and Williams to be free men was the accuser’s initial encouragement to have her friend Anna Lawn, a witness for the prosecution, to join in the act. Whether after Lawn’s refusal Johnson and Williams then became overzealous at one point to the accuser can only be speculated upon.

It was this point the prosecution failed to prove.

Williams doesn’t come away looking good. He puts Lawn’s hand on his crotch, exposes himself to her, and even pushes her onto a bed and pulls her panties down before she gets away. Williams was not on trial for violating Lawn, but testimony indicates he most certainly did.

With that in mind, why are some fans treating this almost like some sort of football victory for the Volunteers and attacking the accuser, who herself is a former Tennessee athlete?

For that matter, why are figures like Jamie Naughright and Linda Bensel-Meyers demonized by Tennessee fans? It reeks of the atmosphere of “my team can do no wrong,” similar to those who wear “Sandusky is Innocent” T-Shirts to Penn State football games.

Why have some in the media attempted to now make Johnson out to be some sort of revered figure?

Billy Williford of allfortennessee.com writes “we want to shed a positive light for Johnson” in his piece “A look back on A.J. Johnson’s career for the Vols.”

A website dealing with Tennessee Volunteers memorabilia continued through the trial to sell Johnson signed footballs.

Meanwhile, Kenny Hawkins of WJHL-TV insisted this morning Johnson would have been a first round draft choice had he not been accused of rape.

Go back and look at the scouting reports. Johnson wouldn’t have been.

“It let me know UT was bigger than this case,” said Knoxville Police Investigator Tim Riddle of trial.

Ya think?

Marky Billson hosts Tri-Cities Sports NOW on 1420 NBC Sports Radio Tri-Cities 12–2 p.m. ET weekdays. Watch his show archived and live here and here.