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Monday, January 20, 2014

I Am Not A Role Model

Today's Villian.  Seahawks' Richard Sherman
Many years ago Charles Barkley implored the World not to look up to him.  He was, after all, a basketball player.  He could rebound and score.  He was able to lead a team.  But he, like so many of us, was/is a flawed human being.  Why on Earth, as the Nike ad wizards suggested, would we look to him for advice, guidance, discipline?

Now, if I wanted to know how to box out or drive to the basket, Sir Charles was my man.

Many took offense to the spot.  "Well he is on TV" they shouted.  "He does interviews and appears on Saturday Night Live!"  "Damn it! he is a very public figure."

So what?

So is Snooki.  So is Chris Christie.  So too Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep etc…   I mention all those NJ folks because the latest uproar du'jour has to do with the Garden State's first Super Bowl.  Richard Sherman, the Seattle Seahawks gifted defensive back, lashed out in a cringe worthy post-game interview.  Among other things he belittled an opposing player, lavished praise on himself, and scared the beJesus out of Erin Andrews.

As a lifelong Seahawks fan I cannot condone any of these things.  However as a lifelong sports fan I am not going to act surprised.  This is the NFL we are talking about, right?

The same NFL that saw 38 NFL players arrested in 2013. 

Sherman's antics were over the top.  They were arrogant and rude.  They showed a lack of civility and utter disregard for decency.

In other words, they were an NFL event.

Football is a violent game and its players have a brief window to make plays, carve out a career, and achieve greatness.  When the game ends for many of them the risks of dementia and other disorders loom big.  They die at a higher rate than the rest of us.  In many ways they are modern day gladiators and we eat it up like so many Roman emperors.  The only difference is their death happens over several painful and unrelenting years of illness rather than one quick lions bite.

If it were up to me I would choose the lion.

The culture is not going to change.  In fact, it has only gotten worse.  How many times did Fox show SF 49ers linebacker Navorro Bowman's horrific knee injury yesterday?  If a helmet to helmet penalty is called we are served numerous replays.  If it's a holding call we rarely get another look.

It's a blood sport and we all know it.

But when one of the combatants speaks from the heart (no matter how ill advised and ignorant it is) we all rush to our pulpits and condemn him.

Tweets abound after Sherman's theatrics.  "Thanks to Sherman all of America is a Broncos fan now."

Oh, you mean the Broncos who had to suspend two front office executives early in the season for ugly DUI arrests?    The Broncos who had star linebacker Von Miller sit out 6 games due to drug suspension?

What are we expecting here really?

It is entertainment, pure and simple.  Would it be great if everyone acted with civility and love for one another?  Yes.

But what would ESPN do without all the overblown hype?  And now Sherman has given the NFL exactly what it wants.  Good (Peyton Manning) versus Evil (Sherman and his mates.)  Perhaps now the press will stop talking about how cold Met Life Stadium will be or how poor a choice the Red Hot Chili Peppers are for halftime.

Somewhere through the haze and marketing bonanza that is the Super Bowl a game will be played.  Refs will make mistakes.  Players will make plays.  A winner will be crowned.

And when you lay down after your over indulgent feast of nachos, beer and sandwiches you can remember who your real role models are.

Hint, it ain't these guys.

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