“All you have done is thrown salt on the wound.”

“This is in bad taste. You should have some decency and be more sensitive to Laquon's pain.

“It was tacky and unsportsmanlike.”

Beginning Sunday morning, we received dozens of messages via email and social media regarding the front page of our Sunday sports section. Football fans from Ole Miss, Auburn and even Mississippi State understandably expressed anger at our 1B, which includes a photo of Ole Miss receiver Laquon Treadwell with the headline “FINDING A WAY.”

The picture, shot during the final minutes of Saturday’s game between Auburn and Ole Miss, shows Treadwell just before he fumbles the football, with his left ankle contorted. Treadwell suffered a season-ending injury on the play. It was a horrific occurrence, though it’s important to remember that it was a legal play. Many fans watching the game on national television certainly turned their heads during the replays.

However, it was also one of the most crucial plays in a contest between two top-five college football teams. The picture is gut-wrenching. It also tells the story. That’s why we chose to run it. As journalists, our primary job is to report what happens – whether by words or photos. Often, what we write or publish is unpleasant. Regarding the photo, this was one of those instances. We did not intend to glorify Treadwell’s injury or offend any reader. To any person hurt by our editorial decision, we apologize.

Our staff has already spent several hours discussing Sunday’s decisions, and we’ll continue to do that in the next few days. If we could redesign Sunday’s 1B again, we would. One thing we would do is use a different headline. We chose “FINDING A WAY” because after the game, numerous players and coaches discussed how the team keeps fighting and finding a way to win difficult games, such as those against Ole Miss, South Carolina and Kansas State.

The headline was not meant to celebrate Treadwell’s injury. No true fan takes pleasure in the injury. It was a terrible ending for one of the best games of the season, regardless of one’s collegiate allegiances. Our newspaper joins fans throughout America in wishing Treadwell a speedy recovery. Our thoughts and prayers are also with his family.

Treadwell’s message to fans on Instagram speaks volumes about his resolve.

“Not everything in life is set out to be easy, & not every plan we have for ourselves work out in our favor,” he wrote. “Even the greatest & most powerful people we praise or look up to have huge downfalls, but it takes a strong person & an even stronger mindset to prepare for that major come back. It didn't kill me, so watch as I become stronger. Thanks for the prayers everyone, God bless.”

It’s our hope that next year, Treadwell takes the field in Jordan-Hare Stadium in another game of national significance. That would be a win-win for fans of the Tigers and the Rebels.

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