What a Bunch of Douchebags
I’ve just read three absolutely lovely stories about the charming and upstanding gentlemen who play my favorite sport, and I’m so moved that I feel I must share them.
Let’s start with retired wide receiver Andre Rison, a man who has to have earned a few million dollars during his 13 seasons as a standout player with various NFL teams. Seems Andre’s having trouble finding the dough, or perhaps just finding it in his heart, to pay child supportfor his three teenage sons, a 19-year-old and a 16-year-old by one woman, and another 16-year-old by another. (I don’t know when exactly the 16-year-olds were born, so I can’t say whether they’re a variant on what we call Irish twins or if there’s not quite a 40 week gap between birthdays. Either way, though, Andre was clearly having a time of it back in the early days of his career. That’s neither here nor there, really. Just an observation.) A judge in Georgia has issued an arrest warrant for Rison as a result of his failure to pay. It’s the fourth time such warrants have been issued. Rison, apparently, disputes the amount he owes, just shy of $185,000, according to the story linked above. And, you know, whatever. But for Christ’s sake, Andre, you’re a fucking millionaire and they’re your kids. At least pay what you think you owe and dispute the rest (unless you’re just full of shit and looking to make excuses for your sorry self, which, umm, wouldn’t surprise me, frankly). Take some fucking responsibility, you piece of shit.
On the lighter side, though only figuratively speaking, there’s the story of Jacksonville Jaguars offensive lineman Chris Naeole, who apparently got Tased by a cop and is facing a charge of disorderly conduct after a reported tussle with some bar employees. We don’t know what got Chris going (if I had to guess I’d say he probably didn’t get the VIP treatment he probably thinks he deserves, but I have no idea). My advice to Chris, if I may borrow a line from Animal House, would be this: “Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.”
And in the day’s sunniest story about an NFL player, we have Miami Dolphins tight end Randy McMichael accused of assaulting his pregnant wife. Yup. You read that right. Apparently determined to outdo his peers in the league on the domestic violence front, the guy allegedly went after the woman who is carrying his child. (Thing is, that doesn’t approach the NFL spousal abuse nastiness record. McMichael’s gonna have to work pretty hard if he hopes to best Michael Pittman, who bagged a threefer — wife, child and babysitter — in his most recent act of violent fuckheadedness. Add in the apparent acts of certain retired running backs/car rental pitchmen and you get a bar set so high you have to hope no one ever clears it. Still, assaulting a pregnant wife is a start. And the guy’s only 25, so who knows?) McMichael admits he was drunk when the alleged incident took place. Sweet guy, isn’t he? He faces 15 years behind bars if he’s convicted. Me, I hope he serves every day of it. But he won’t. In fact, I’d lay odds McMichael, like Pittman, finds a way to suffer little more than a short suspension from league play. And, oh, boy, that’s gotta hurt.
Of course, it does no good to look at any of this stuff in a vacuum. You’ve got to consider it against the backdrop of a league filled to overflowing with wife beaters (and girlfriend beaters — and probably a few boyfriend beaters, though you’ll never, ever find out about them), rapists, bar brawlers, habitual drunken drivers, an accused murderer here or there (I count two to date — one cleared in criminal court but held responsible in civil court; the other who pleaded out — but I may be missing some), and, of course, a giant assemblage of monstrously hateful homophobes (this last group comprising players, coaches and owners alike). But never fear, friends of decency, the NFL wants you to know that it is aggressively pursuing all the pot smokers who have crept into its ranks, with hope of rehabilitating them or, if necessary, driving them out of the sport (for their own good, the safety of those around them and the best interests of the impressionable children who look up to athletes as role models). You’ve gotta have your priorities, after all.
I love football. The game, that is. Love it. But the culture that surrounds the sport — at the pro level, the college level (see esp: Colorado, University of) and all-too-frequently the high school and youth levels — has some significant problems to overcome. Or, actually, it doesn’t. Not at the pro and college levels, anyhow. Because chumps like me keep paying for tickets and watching games on TV even knowing we’re supporting one of the biggest groups of lowlifes on the continent. My only choice, as it has been for years, is to stick to loving the game and forget about the assholes who play and coach it. Can’t say how much longer that’s gonna sustain me, though. It gets harder and harder every day.