When I was in 9th grade, I fell in love with AFC football. I had been a San Francisco 49ers fan since birth, but in my hometown, the football that I saw the most was the AFC. The Houston Oilers, the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Buffalo Bills were all the teams I enjoyed watching. I became a KC became my AFC team, but when it came to post season, I would follow the Buffalo Bills.
I loved Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Cornelius Bennett, Darryl Talley, Andre Reed, and of course, the great Bruce Smith. I loved to see these guys pound the line, and I was as devastated as any Bills fan when these guys were on the sidelines looking dejected after each of the four Super Bowl losses.
I was equally devasted this morning when I logged on the the net to see that Bruce Smith, the leader of that defence and NFL Hall of Famer, arrested for drunk driving. This was not his first, not his second, but his third DUI arrest. I was stunned. Although no convictions, three DUI arrests. He's not the first look at this list: Vincent Jackson, Joba Chamberlain, Charles Barkley, Carmelo Anthony, Lawyer Milloy, Zach Randolf, Donte Stallworth, Jerremy Stevens, Jim Leyritz, Tony LaRussa, Koren Robinson, Chris Henry, Warren Moon, Brian Bosworth, Deltha O'Neal, Javon Kerse, Cedric Benson, Ken Stabler, Biren Ealy, Kolomona Kapanui, Leon Hall, Dominic Rhodes, Jared Allen, etc. All of these arrests have happened within the past 3 years. All they had to do was call a cab, hire a limo, or give the keys to a sober friend! Many of these guys go around in posses, tell Jo-Jo he can't drink because he's driving tonight.
Apparently, because it is legal to purchase alcohol in the U.S. if you are over 21, this is not a big deal to the media. It should be. Two of these men are looking at serious jail time for killing people, Donte Stallworth and Jim Leyritz, and Leonard Little was convicted in 1998 for killing a woman.
Last week, I listened to literally hours of pundits berating Manny Ramirez for his hcg prescription, Roger Clemens for his "alleged" steriod use, and before that, Alex Rodriguez, before him, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Raphael Palmiero, etc. HOURS. Hour after hour of coverage about Manny and Alex. Minutes of coverage about Donte Stallworth. Why? Is drunk driving not a "sexy" enough story? Is it played out? Obviously not.
I am not slapping Manny on the wrist; he deserves whatever happens to him. I have no sympathy as far as that is concerned. However, why are these "cheaters" worse than the men I've listed? Did Manny and the other break the law? Yes, if they took steroids, they did break the law. Should they be punished? Yes, if it can be proven that they broke the law, then they should be punished. But, why are these men pariahs, and the others are not.
Both are crimes. Yet, the media will analyze every angle of the Manny Ramirez story, but there was hardly any information on Donte Stallworth's "accidentally" killing Mario Reyes with his Bentley. The largest story involving athletes and drunk driving was the tragic death of Nick Adenhart and two of his friends last month. The man driving the van that killed Adenhart was drunk (that driver was a multiple DUI offender). It, too, quickly faded to the back page once there was more A-Rod and Manny fodder.
I have to roll my eyes every time I hear these self-righteous media types talk about how steroids influences the kids, how the kids are going to follow, how these role models are ruining kids...I have been an educator for a little over ten years. I have only heard rumors (no proof) about steriods among teenagers around. I have heard of several incidents of suicides related to steroid use over a period of years. In a 2006 poll, only 2.7% of the 12th grades polled had used or experimented with steroids. 31.5% of teenagers had experimented with alcohol. Alcohol abuse, however, is more prevalent among teenagers. Take the state of Texas for example. This year, Texas was considering ending steroid testing because only 11 out of 29,000 students in two years tested positive. Eleven out of 29,000. By comparison in 2007 alone, Texas had 1,292 alcohol related fatalities, 202 were teenagers.
Alcohol is the leading cause of death among teenagers. I have not seen the media pundits wringing their hands about that. I have not heard them demand apologies from these men. I have not seen this prevent some of these players from going into the Hall of Fame. Why? Because it did not happen on the fields or courts? So let me get this straight. Manny, Roger, and Barry are worse than these guys who not only put themselves in danger, but they put us all in danger. Thankfully, most of these guys were picked up before they killed someone. The only thing Manny and Alex hurt was themselves and statistics. I don't think any fans have died because of padded statistics.
I myself have lost a student to drunk driving. There is nothing more sobering than watching those young children stare at a pall drape coffin of a beautiful young person gone because someone did not take the keys from a drunk friend. Did it prevent the drinking? For a few days, maybe.
I have never been a drinker. I won't be a hypocrite and say I never have had one. I have, but I can say that I have never in my life been drunk. Yes, my friends made fun of me for it. I have even had students make fun of me for it. But, they were never a seven year old girl who had to spend time at a double desk with an empty seat because a drunk driver killed her friend. I have.
In my opinion, all of these guys are bad guys. But, I feel the DUI guys will always be worse than the roiders. I have always been a designated driver, and I always will.