It was an eventful four seasons, to say the least, for Michigan Wolverines offensive lineman Taylor Lewan. His story on the football field was well told; it was often a frightening one as well. But multiple reports of his off-the-field behavior are what prompt the questioning of the legacy he leaves behind at Michigan.
What exactly is that legacy? If anyone is fortunate enough to have a cleanly cut answer, please step forward and fill us in because no one really knows for sure. There’s no question if we narrow this down to the work he put in between the sidelines, we’re talking about one of the greatest linemen to ever come through the program.
OK, there was an incident this last season in which he twisted the facemask of Michigan State safety Isaiah Lewis while they were on the ground. Lewan would later apologize, but there’s obviously no room for that sort of foul play, even if it is Michigan State.
There was another run-in with the Spartans’ William Gholston two years earlier. Lewan was on the receiving end of a punch thrown by Gholston, who would be suspended, but many believe Lewan played the instigator role in that clash.
Off the field — now that’s where the conversation can turn ugly in a hurry. From reports of him threatening a woman to keep her quiet after allegedly being assaulted by former Michigan kicker Brendan Gibbons to an ongoing case involving him and an Ohio State fan, Lewan has found his fair share of trouble on the streets.
The pure and true details of these allegations may never be known to the public, but I really don’t think an inconclusive result is going to do anything positive for Lewan. His image is continually deteriorating.
If convicting evidence is brought forth, can you imagine the permanently stark difference between Lewan’s on- and off-the-field legacy would be? It’s not a very pretty sight, and I fear we may be heading towards that, even without the clear-cut evidence needed to chain up Lewan.
Brady Hoke came to the rescue of his former player this spring, saying assumptions would be made about the Dec. 1 incident involving Lewan and an Ohio State fan after “The Game,” and also noted the lineman’s consistent involvement with C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor.
And Lewan obviously had to come to his own defense during the draft process, telling reporters at the combine:
“It kills me inside. It probably kills my mother, too. She helped raise me … it hurts definitely because the player I am on the field, it’s probably really easy to assume all those things about me. But that’s not who I am at all.”
For the sake of Michigan, everyone involved and for sports in general, I sincerely hope Lewan is telling the truth when he says that’s just not who he is. Until then, though, there’s no other way to describe it; Lewan’s legacy at Michigan has its bright spots, but the sky is generally overcast.