Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Muhsin Muhammad “grateful” Nick Saban gave him another chance

Panthers head coach Ron Rivera says Cam Newton is set to play in Carolina's season opener despite sporting a walking boot last Thursday.

The Nick Saban second-chance video is making the rounds again, as it seems to have done every so often since he first spoke of becoming the patron saint of wayward boys in 2014.

And the guy who was the subject of the story can tell when his phone starts blowing up that it’s back.

“Just about every year this happens,” former Panthers and Bears wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad said, via Max Henson of the Panthers’ team website. “At some point in time it goes viral again.”

In case you don’t live on social media and missed it, the Alabama coach was making a point about giving second chances when he invoked Muhammad, who played for him at Michigan State.

When Muhammad was in college in 1993, he was pulled over for a traffic stop, and cops found a loaded .38-caliber gun in the glove compartment. He told police he had been hunting squirrels (perhaps a curious choice of armament for the job), and the arrest violated his probation for a previous possession of marijuana charge. He was sentenced to 90 days for the probation violation. He was also arrested on a gun and marijuana charge in 2002, when he was with the Panthers.

Muhammad said he was grateful for the leniency when he was a student.

“It was early on in [Saban’s] career and there was a lot of controversy surrounding the decision that he made. He stood up to that and defended it,” Muhammad said. “It worked itself out. Jeez, that was back in 1995, maybe? I’m pretty sure he’s encountered these scenarios over and over again. My case was maybe one of the first dilemmas: Do I succumb to the scrutiny because I am afraid of the backlash? Or do I stick to my principles and give a guy another chance?

“He evaluated my character and thought I was deserving of a second opportunity. I’m grateful for that, and Nick is probably grateful too that I didn’t make him look bad.”

As Saban pointed out, Muhammad went on to become a star NFL player, earning two Pro Bowl honors in his 14-year, 860-catch career. He’s now the managing director at Axum Capital Partners, a private equity firm he co-founded. His son, Muhsin Muhammad III, is one of the top recruits in the country and has committed to Texas A&M. He has been, by any definition, successful.

But it’s a lot easier to give players second chances when they’re stars, and can help you win enough games to eventually become the coach at Alabama. The league is full of guys who got opportunities less-talented players did not. While Saban’s position has a certain nobility, it’s also one of pragmatism, so perhaps the canonization can wait.

At least until the next time Muhammad starts trending again.