This is the first rant in an ongoing series of bi-monthly rants published by fellow AC Content Producer, Tweak, and myself.
This week’s Smack of Reality topic is: “Modern Sports Stars are Above the Law.”
I want to go on record that I dislike most jocks since I was a kid. It is not a grudge because I cannot play sports. It is the cocky, egotistical personalities and behaviors of jocks of every age. Not all exhibit this negative attribute but a good many do.
The bad behavior of jocks is not exclusively self-created. It is fostered by the educational institutions, the coaches, the teams, the parents, and society. They give jocks the feeling of being worshipped and that they have a get out of jail free card to do whatever they want without punishment. Colleges give them full scholarships, cars, money, and other incentives to join their teams. Pro sports teams pay them millions in bonuses just to sign with them.
I am sick of sports jocks getting preferential treatment even after getting into legal trouble. Even if they are the biggest superstars with terrific records, they still need to act responsibly and obey the law. Even more so, they need to act as good role models for the impressionable youth that look up to and mimic.
ABC News sums up my belief when, while discussing Michael Vick, they said “In the world of professional sports where allegations of illegal drug use, domestic violence and even murder often go ignored…”
In this article, I will briefly touch on a few bad eggs in collegiate and professional sports that have been in the news in August 2007 for legal problems.
Adam “Pacman” Jones
Adam “Pacman” Jones joined the roster of the professional wrestling organization, TNA.
Jones is a young football player, who was drafted into the NFL as a first round draft pick to the Tennessee Titans in 2005. His contract was for 3 years and worth $6 million plus a sign-up bonus in the millions. Jones has a pretty good record for only being in the NFL for such a short period of time.
Outside of sports, Jones was arrested at least 6 times and questioned by police 11 times since 2005. He has been arrested for assault at nightclubs, death threats, and not reporting to his parole officer.
In February 2007 at a club, an altercation ensued and it is believed that one of Jones’ entourage brought in a gun and fired into a crowd, hitting three people, including the security guard. The guard was shot twice, and one of the people hit was paralyzed from the waist down.
Based on his legal troubles, he has been suspended for the entire 2007 season. It will be reviewed after 10 games but there is no guarantee of reinstatement. The team can sue Jones for $1.9 million, which was his signing bonus for 2007.
The Titans suspended Jones but, he has temporarily joined pro wrestling. Due to his NFL suspension, the Titans have forced him to be unable to be touched on TNA.
Not only does Jones get a minor insignificant punishment, he gets to join another sports organization and be paid. To top it off, he cannot touch or be touched, so he gets paid just to stand around and talk. Where is the punishment?
Michael Vick is an American football quarterback employed by the Atlanta Falcons.
He was a standout football player in high school and attended Virginia Tech on a full scholarship. He quit early to play for the NFL. The Atlanta Falcons chose him as their first pick of the 2001 NFL Draft. He became one of the highest-paid NFL players.
In 2004, he signed a 10-year contract with the Falcons for $130 million and a $37 million signing bonus, making him the highest paid player in NFL history.
It sounds like Vick had a bright, rich, and successful life and future. He should have been one of the most thankful people in the world for being blessed with good health and athletic talent. He didn’t need money, that’s for sure. Everything should have been great for him, without a need in the world. However, sadly, it wasn’t enough for him.
In April 2007, evidence of illegal dog fighting was found at Michael Vick’s property in Virginia. The situation is under investigation at both the federal and local levels.
The court accepted Vick’s guilty plea to a single felony count and he will be sentenced on December 10. He faces a maximum of 5 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, and 3 years of supervised release.
The NFL has indefinitely suspended Vick without pay. His playing future is doubtful and the Falcons can recover the $22 million dollar signing bonus from Vick’s 2004 contract. Many companies have cancelled his endorsements.
The football players defend one another. After Vick told the court that he knows he did wrong and will try to redeem himself, running back, Warrick Dunn, said “He [Vick] was real sincere. Most important, I think he took everything on his shoulders. He didn’t make excuses and said it was his fault.”
Sincere his butt! Vick is just trying to sweet talk his way out of a harsher sentence. He didn’t admit to the charges until after he saw that his case was hopeless. No one, who can kill defenseless, innocent animals, can ever be truly sincere about anything.
Jones and Vick are not alone in their run-ins with the law. Nor is this phenomenon exclusive to professional sports. It is rampant in collegiate sports as well. Below, you will find a list of players that have been in trouble with the law in August 2007. These are just the ones that I found in a one-minute search.
Recent Run-down of Sports Players in Trouble with the Law
• Texas State receiver, Alex Darley, was charged with a shoplifting citation. Dismissed from the team.
• East Carolina University starting quarterback, Rob Kass, was arrested last weekend for drunk driving. Team punishment yet to be determined.
• 38-year-old American football star, Todd Marinovich, was arrested in Newport Beach, California for possessing a controlled substance, being in unauthorized possession of a hypodermic needle, and resisting a police officer. He remains at Orange Country Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail. He was arrested in 2004 arrest on drug charges as well. Marinovich has played for teams including the Los Angeles Raiders.
• Alabama star defensive cornerback, Simeon Castille, was arrested early Sunday morning for disorderly conduct at a Tuscaloosa strip. The team said it will punish him but a suspension seems unlikely.
• Duke linebacker, Michael Tauiliili, was arrested on charges that included driving while impaired and simple assault. Suspended from the team but was reinstated to the squad 11 days later.
• Two Iowa football players, Dominique Douglas and Anthony Bowman, were arrested and charged with unauthorized use of a credit card, a Class D felony. Both have been indefinitely suspended from the team but remain on full athletic scholarship.
• Houston Rockets guard, Rafer Alston, was arrested on felony assault charges (stabbing a man) at a Manhattan nightclub. He was released without bail. This is his second brush with the law this month.
• Arkansas defensive end, Marcus Harrison, was charged with possession of two controlled substances, felony drug charges, speeding, violating the Arkansas seat belt law, driving on a restricted license, and has a misdemeanor warrant for failure to appear in court. He has been released on $5,029 bail. Suspended indefinitely.
• South Carolina safety, Emanuel Cook, was arrested on a gun possession charge last week. Admitted back SCU.
Some jocks have the talent and get the big bucks. Without the maturity and responsibility to go along with it, their immaturity and irresponsibility sends bad signals to other football players and youth.
Simeon Castille’s father, Jeremiah Castille, sums it all up when he said last month that the biggest lesson he taught his son about the game of football was having class. He went on to say: “People are always watching, especially younger players that are looking to idolize and say, ‘Hey, I want to be like a Simeon Castille,'” his father said. “How you carry yourself is very important.”
Too bad that Simeon Castille does not seem to have learned what his daddy tried to teach him. I’d recommend a few dozen whacks with a leather strap back in the tool shed when they’re kids to help the lesson sink in.
Society does not punish jocks enough for their bad behavior and illegal activities. Instead, we pay them homage and millions of dollars in sign-up bonuses! We should NOT reward anyone for being a troublemaker.
Smack of Reality Note: This is part of an ongoing series of bi-monthly rants published by AC Content Producers, Tweak and John Gugie. We will tackle a different controversial topic with each rant – each of us giving our own opinions in our own unique styles. For easy reference, each of our rants is numbered the same. Here you will find John’s Rants and Tweak’s Rants.