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Will Smith and Joe Mcknight victims of a bigger epidemic



New Orleans is a place known for its rich history of music and Cajun foods but lately the city has been in headlines for much darker reasons.

The murder rate has been an issue before now but two murders this year seven months apart involving two high profile athletes have captured major media attention. Will Smith and Joe McKnight both men were former professional football players who lost their lives over road rage incidents, two tragedies that could have been avoided.

Smith suited up for the hometown Saints for almost a decade and proved to be a fan favorite at defensive end. He was a first round pick of the franchise and a vital member of the Super Bowl team that rejuvenated a city desperately searching for something good to rally around. Smith didn’t reign from the Bayou but they accepted and adopted him as one of their own sons. A family man and philanthropist taken way too soon over reckless violence.

McKnight was just 28 years young when he recently lost his life, a native of Louisiana he stared at local John Curtis high school and built a huge reputation as an elite level running back and potential superstar. Mcknight broke a lot of hearts when he turned down hometown LSU and decided to take his talents out west to play for Pete Carroll at USC. After a successful collegiate career he was also drafted into the NFL as a member of the New York Jets.

These two deaths are cogs in a bigger problem going on an issue that has to be addressed firmly and abruptly. This goes deeper than the (Stand your ground law) that residents are now coming together to protest along with local politicians alike. The senseless killings aren’t just here but all over major cities majority in urban based areas. All four men involved in these two separate incidents are victims they are victims to our society and of their surroundings.

Make no mistake Cardell Hayes and Ronald Gasser are victims in this  national calamity as well, two men with families of their own living in a society where the citizens who inhabit it feel the need to carry around guns everywhere to reach a level of safety necessary to leave their homes. Brothers of the same community gunning each other down instead of uplifting each other, poverty and unemployment fueling the anger and the oppression has enslaved the minds of some. It’s getting to a state where violence is just a natural reaction or response to a conflict or problem people are shooting first and asking questions later. Casualties and gun violence have become norms to us in the media and this fact is saddest of them all.

We learn early in life to treat others as we would like to be treated but somewhere along the line we’ve become lost and forgotten about the golden rule. At some point we began viewing our brothers as the enemy and instead of offering a helping hand we’re dispersing hate at one another. Society has programed us to be afraid of strangers and we’re turning our backs on people in need of assistance. This isn’t just about a “stand your ground law” no it’s much deeper it’s about our mindset and our demeanor.

Our people can’t continue to protest how all lives matter but go out and take the lives of our brothers it’s an unjust mindset. Peace is the answer love is needed to help heal these wounds. Too many cases, too many victims, and too many families have been affected where it could’ve been avoided. Guns will be blamed but we are the real ones to blame and until we decide to take responsibility and offer each other solidarity we will all continue to suffer.


I'm a recent college graduate, I received my degree in Mass Communications with a focus in Journalism. I have six years of sports writing and broadcasting experience.