Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Don't Throw Stones...Unless No One's Looking

Yesterday, 2-time Super Bowl winning quarterback and 2-time accused sex offender Ben Roethlisberger issued a written statement in which he apologized to his family, fans, teammates, and the NFL for the behavior that led commissioner Roger Goodell to levy a 6-game suspension against the superstar.

"The commissioner's decision to suspend me speaks clearly that more is expected of me. I am accountable for the consequences of my actions. Though I have committed no crime, I regret that I have fallen short of the values instilled in me by my family," Roethlisberger said in the statement.

Roethlisberger went on to say that he will not appeal the commissioner's decision and that he will not put himself in this situation again.

Undoubtedly, there are some fans that will gladly accept this apology from their Super Bowl winning leader and look towards summer mini camps and fall scrimmages, when Sportscenter updates will be replaced with the crack of shoulder pads. Others may view Roethlisberger's statement with cynicism, having bore witness to the same choreographed charade a dozen times before with prominent public figures such as Tiger Woods, John Edwards, Kobe Bryant, and Bill Clinton to name just a few.

To the football purest, if Ben's off the field shenanigans matter at all to them, the proof of his reclamation will be in how he performs on Sundays and in clutch situations in January and February. To the layman or the fan who has a wife, daughter, grand-daughter, or niece, there may be nothing that Roethlisberger could ever do to gain or regain their trust, respect, and admiration. His violation of that young lady in Milledgeville, GA. hit too close to home.

I don't condone Ben's actions in the least bit, although I understand how a young, rich, successful athlete can find himself the aggressor and victim of a situation like this one. I can't say for sure how I would act if I was as privileged as Ben but I'm pretty sure, from the actions that I engaged in during my college years with less money, talent, and fame, that I would be prone to making the same mistakes, if not worse.

The one place that Ben does have my sympathy is in the fact that he is a victim of the reality show culture that we consume and fuel, where every action is pre-judged, judged, and re-judged before a live studio audience. Whether it's Judge Judy or Judge Mathis, Dancing With the Stars or American Idol, Survivor or the Biggest Loser, every minute detail of our lives is put to a popular vote. If you're thinking that I'm sensationalizing the effects of reality tv on our culture, just think that more people cast votes during American Idol than they did for either candidate in the 2008 Presidential Election! To have one's guilt or innocence decided during a trial by a jury of your peers in a court of law is no longer a right, it is a luxury. As the District Attorney in Milledgeville Frederic D. Bright said during a press conference, his office does not prosecute morality. His insinuation was that he wished he could.

If there is any good news for Ben Roethlisberger it's that there will be another goof up by another famous person that will thoroughly overshadow his faux pas and the public's ever decreasing attention span will be stimulated by some fresh, new New York Daily News-style fodder (I'm sure Tiger Woods and his camp are thoroughly enjoying their reprieve). Ben will go on to have another Pro Bowl season, take his team to the playoffs, and raise tons of money for battered women's shelters and anti-teen drinking programs. The sun will rise in the East again in the Steel city.

The not so good news is that we, as a society, are moving at break neck speed toward a bottomless abyss where our friends, neighbors, and ourselves will be constantly put on trial in the most public manner possible. A person will be able to act as judge, jury, and executioner without bearing the burden of having proof beyond a reasonable doubt but simply by having an opinion and internet access. We are all familiar with the phrase "don't throw stones if you live in a glass house" but when your stones can be thrown anonymously and without fear of retribution for your actions, the stones will fly indiscriminately and in ever greater numbers.

If baseball is America's passtime then our second favorite passtime is ragging on people who are more talented, have more money, and are better looking than us. In a day and age where people unexpectedly grasp the brass ring of fame, it may be advisable to holster your stones because you never know when you'll need to use them as a paper weight as you pen your public apology.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tim Tebow Taps the Rockies

The 2010 NFL draft commenced last night at Radio City Music Hall in New York, celebrating its 75th edition in prime time.

The Chicago Bears are without a 1st and 2nd round pick this year, which means that Bears fans will have to wait until tonight to see what undersized, soft spoken, practice field phenomenon their team picks from Abilene Christian or Vanderbilt.

The Rams selected 2008 Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Sam Bradford from the University of Oklahoma with the 1st pick in this year's draft. Bradford stands to receive upwards of $50 million guaranteed, which will undoubtedly go a long way towards Bradford keeping Dr. James Andrews on permanent retainer. Take a long vacation while you can still walk Sam.

The surprise of Thursday night was Josh McDaniels and his Denver Broncos moving down in the draft 3 times before moving back up to pick 25, where they selected Tim Tebow, the 2 time National Championship winning quarterback and 2007 Hesiman Trophy award winner from Florida. This has to be the first time in the history of the NFL draft where leadership has trumped talent. First of all, I love how the Broncos kept regifting the pick that they got from the Bears like it was the extra breadmaker that Will ferrell got as wedding gift in Old School. No one on the Broncos roster was more surprised by the pick than former Bears quarterback Kyle Orton.

After sitting behind Rex Grossman for 3 years, Orton has the distinct pleasure of sitting behind another Florida quarterback with questionable NFL talent that, if you only watched ESPN or lived in the ass crack of Florida that is Gainesville, you'd swear walked on water and raised the dead in his spare time when he's not practicing his throwing motion 17 hours a day. All of Tebow's inspirational speeches won't keep Orton and Quinn's hands warm while they hold the clipboards this fall. Comparing Tim Tebow to Rex Grossman does a tremendous disservice to Tebow (until he fumbles his first snap then all bets are off). He's a proven winner, a tremendous leader, and adept beyond his years at handling coaches, teammates, and the media. All of those intangibles are great but the NFL is a man's league where talent trumps the rainbows and unicorns that eminate from Tebow's stellar life story.

I look for Tebow to make an immediate impact in Denver's "Wild Horses" formation, their version of the now widely used "Wildcat" or spread option formation. It's the same system that he ran to perfection under the tutelage of Urban Meyer (Interesting enough, the Broncos selected Demaryius Thomas, wide receiver from Georgia Tech, who averaged over 20 yards per reception playing in a triple option attack). It will be interesting to see how the Southeastern Conference's all time leading rusher performs when, instead of running over opponents from Ole Miss and Tennessee, Tebow is staring down the gun barrel at Pro Bowlers like Patrick Willis and Brian Cushing. Let the made for television saga that is the pro career of Tim Tebow officially begin in the cold, thin air of the Rockies.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Outspoken Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was caught on camera phone in a Dallas bar - obviously intoxicated because you don't go to bars to crochet - making disparaging remarks about former Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells and Florida quarterback Tim Tebow while heaping more undeserved praise upon his quarterback Tony Homo, I mean Romo.

Jones' inebriated extemporaneous rant has raised questions about the right to privacy by public figures and who exactly qualifies as "the media" in an era where blogs, iReports, and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have allowed anyone with a camera phone and an opinion to claim the once lauded title of journalist.

I do not consider myself to be a journalist. I did not major in the subject in college (but I could write for High Times) and I am not held to the same ethical standards regarding subject selection and the confidentiality of sources that my professional peers are. I'm just some mo mo with a few extra minutes at work or on the train with a tremendous desire to spread my ill conceived and highly vitriolic opinions to whatever captive audience with equally flexible morals has the attention span to read my tomes.

Is my work less credentialed than that of KC Johnson or Laura Washington? Obviously. Is my opinion less important than that of Keith Olbermann or Glenn Beck? Absolutely not! The vast majority of the men and women on television and radio aren't journalist. They do not deal solely in reporting objective facts (and if they say that they do, they're lying their $2,000 suits off). They, like I, are members of that collective cesspool known as the media - where opining replaces fact checking for the ultimate purpose of drawing an audience.

Don't get me wrong. There are still salt of the earth journalist out there but there aren't as many people reading their articles as there are folks logged on to TMZ.com right now or watching The Daily Show or Chelsea Lately (your choice of the two depends on how autistic you are. Don't judge me.)

With the 24 hour cable news cycle, there is an ever increasing need for fodder and theatrics (Which came first, the supply or the demand?). 20 years ago, Tiger Woods sleeping with everyone but Andy Dick or Jerry Jones' jabbering would never have seen the light of day. Now it is news, not because it is news worthy, but because it has to be news worthy to satisfy the public's insatiable fetish for ultra-reality television (I guess that's really real or literally real television).

With that increasing appetite comes the reality that there is no longer a such thing as a private life for celebrities. There is no such thing as a private life for any of us. No matter who you are or what walk of life you're in, no matter how bright or dim your star, you too can become a YouTube sensation as evidenced by the Australian man who is now famous beyond his wildest dreams, not for curing cancer or landing a plane safely on the Hudson River, but for barking like a dog.

This is the new world that we live in and it is poised to change the face of journalism, I think, for the better. It's okay to be nostalgic about the media of yester year but the waves of change are here. Either you ride that wave, moving and adapting, or you stand there like a deer in headlights and go the way of Walter Cronkite. In 20 years, all the Janes, Dicks, and Harrys who write blogs, tweet, and Facebook will be considered the mainstream media and those jerkfaces who create news for the sake of making news will be the outcasts. Oh wait, those jerkfaces are the Kardashians. Here's to the future of social media and here's to Jerry Jones for being the posterboy of 21st century jouralism this week.

Triathlon Fundraising for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

My fraternity brother Davod Chavez is raising funds for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) as a participant in their Team In Training program for the Chicago Triathlon and he is asking all of us to help by making a donation to his fundraising campaign.

Each donation helps accelerate finding a cure for leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. More than 823,000 Americans are battling these blood cancers. We are hoping that David's participation in Team In Training will help bring them hope and support.

Also, david needs to reach a personal goal in order to participate in the Triathlon, so any donation really helps out, no matter how small.

Please use the link below to donate online quickly and securely plus learn more about David's progress. You will receive a confirmation of your donation by email and David will be notified as soon as you make your donation.


On behalf of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, thank you very much for your support. We greatly appreciate your generosity. Join me in wishing David luck!