Eric Mack may not be able to play football this fall for the Auburn Tigers. He was not pulled over with a gun and drugs in his car like Michael Dyer or a repeated troublemaker like Tyrann Mathieu. He did not get in trouble at all, actually. Mack’s biggest problem was he wanted to protect his friends.
Things drastically changed from a fun night to something much worse for Mack on June 9 at University Heights in South Auburn. While attending a party, things became heated outside the apartment complex’s clubhouse when gunshots were fired. In a panic, while Mack was so busy checking on his friends, he did not even realize he had been shot in the buttocks.
His friends, former Auburn players Ed Christian and Ladarious Phillips, were pronounced dead shortly after the incident. Mack was sent to the hospital and later released. He later said immediately after the incident, he began thinking about his daughter and her future.
After being shot by alleged gunman Desmonte Leonard, the sophomore was still thinking about others more than himself.
In what must be one of the most selfless acts heard of, No. 60 has yet to return to the practice fields for the Tigers in fall camp. Coach Gene Chizik has said multiple times Mack is continuing to work through things, as anyone in his situation would need to do.
With Mathieu now being the most recent college football player to throw away being a big name in the SEC, he and former Georgia running back Isaiah Crowell, to name another player recently dismissed, could learned a lot from Mack.
What happened in Auburn that night was bigger than football. It became bigger than whatever the argument fueled Leonard’s alleged actions. Lives were lost, and Mack was more worried about others’ than his own.
In the dirty, dirty world of college football, stories like Mack’s and that of Shon Coleman provide a nice reminder that it is not all about winning and making it to the NFL. It is truly disheartening that these types of reminders are only recognized in the darkest times, but it does show humanity still exists at least off the field for these young men.