Last week, Buffalo Bills running back Marshawn Lynch and a friend were sitting in a parked Mercedes-Benz that had no license plates. When an officer checked on the duo, he discovered a loaded gun. He also searched them after detecting the smell of marijuana, and he found some. This is not Lynch’s first bout with trouble. He entered the NFL with a questionable reputation, and since turning pro he’s pleaded guilty to striking a female pedestrian and fleeing the scene in his Porsche Cayenne SUV.
Meanwhile, Jason Richardson of the Phoenix Suns is also in hot water. Last week, he was arrested for driving 90 mph in a 35 mph zone – with his unrestrained three-year-old son in the car with him at the time! Prior to that, he was charged with driving under the influence last December 21.
Before I go any further, please understand that I am not picking on these two individuals. This blog is designed to be about professional sports as a whole. After all, for every Lynch or Richardson there’s a Tank Johnson, Pacman Jones or Leonard Little who are just as bad, if not worse.
The questions is: How many chances should a player get and, sadly, the answer varies from sport to sport; heck, it even varies from team to team. One of the answers to that question is, “How much talent does the player have?” If it’s a third-stringer who rarely plays, the team gets up on a soapbox and says, “We’re releasing this player immediately. We do not tolerate this kind of behavior in our locker room!” But if it’s one of the star players, they say, “Everyone deserves a second chance.” Hypocritical? Still, I understand. If the production on the court/field outweighs the high salary and drama created by the player’s issues, more often than not the team holds onto that player. Why? Because normal people like you and me can be replaced; however, there are very few people who can replace a skilled pro athlete. (As a fantasy football general manager, I always consider a player’s potential combustibility before I draft him … lol.)
When the Tennessee Titans soured on Pacman Jones due to character issues, the Dallas Cowboys were right there to seize the opportunity to grab the immensely talented but troubled cornerback/kick returner. One assumes that, when Mike Vick is once again able to play, someone will take a chance on him, too.
Let’s say you or I did what Lynch or Richardson did. Instead of playing a pro sport, we’d probably be rotting in a jail cell right about now. But today’s justice system is skewed in favor of athletes, movie stars and other celebrities who have big names and high-powered attorneys.
Along with the media, we’ve created this mess ourselves. We’ve made celebrities our heroes and our kids’ role models. As such, we are a million times more expendable to our employers than these folks are to theirs.
Is this going to change anytime soon? No, so I guess I’d better get used to it. Just don’t look for Marshawn Lynch on any of my fantasy football teams anytime soon!