The running back for the Oklahoma Sooners, Keith Ford, was recently suspended indefinitely for academic and team rules violations. The day after his suspension Ford's parents, Keith and Mary, spoke out by releasing a statement via the Tulsa World regarding their son's current position in the Oklahoma University football team.
While his parent's respect the decision of Sooners Coach Stoops, they believe that their son's behavior has been uncharacteristic of him and is mostly related to a recent injury from which he never fully recovered. Their hope is that they can help their son recover physically and mentally from his injury and be on his best behavior again in order to return to the team.
Ford's Injury in Tennessee
Ford's parents cited his injury in September of last year as being at least partly responsible for the mistakes that led to his suspension. Keith Ford broke a bone in his lower leg during a game against Tennessee and has since struggled to recover from the injury.
His father, in an interview with Tulsa World said that Keith declined gradually during his recovery and he started to notice things that were uncharacteristic of his behavior. Although his parents were not specific about how the injury affected him it did lead to him being late to many classes and not attending important football activities.Ford's attendance problems are a violation of team rules which ultimately led to his suspension.
His father did not go into much detail regarding the changes in Keith but asserted that his behavior is not uncommon among athletes suffering from a severe injury. The parents of the football player have consulted medical professionals and believe that he never recovered psychologically from his injury. They believe that an injury affects an athlete both mentally and physically and they require rehabilitation for both.
Recovering with the Help of Coaches
Although Keith Ford was indefinitely suspended due to academic and team rules violations, his parents have spoken with the coach about their son's mental health and how his injury has been affecting him. Coach Stoops told them that he will "never shut a kid out" and has been actively engaged in helping Keith.
Stoops and the rest of the Oklahoma University coaching staff have been helping to rehabilitate the player and provide a support system for him in this difficult time. While Ford's status on the team remains up in the air, he has the help necessary to get in a healthier mental state and continue to recover from his injury which has affected his performance in games and his ability to remain competitive.
He was injured in Week 3 and after returning later in the season he fell behind a standout freshman on the depth chart. His father said that after his injury looking through the season he was never completely back in the game. After speaking with several professionals the Fords now understand that his underlying issues are to blame for his poor performance as well as his recent mistakes and suspension.
Ford's parents were understanding about the situation and accepting that his suspension was fair due to his attendance problems but they were hopeful that he can eventually get back on track and return to the program as running back for the Sooners.
It is unclear exactly what Keith Ford is dealing with but he has the continued support of his family and the Oklahoma University coaches so that he can recover and begin to play again. Ultimately the decision of whether he can return is up to Ford and whether or not he can improve his behavior and work toward his rehabilitation.