When the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl last Sunday night, the first reaction you’d expect was exhilaration on the Ravens’ bench and disappointment by the San Francisco 49ers. That certainly was the case. And yet many stories leading up to the Big Game focused on retiring Ravens’ defensive star Ray Lewis and his checkered past.
Lewis was involved in a double homicide years ago, although he himself was never convicted of a crime. Still, the cloud of that incident has followed Lewis throughout his potential Hall of Fame career. Even this year, his remarkably quick comeback from a debilitating injury led to speculation that he had tapped into illicit drugs to accelerate the healing process.
Deer antlers, believe it or not, are the latest bizarre source of drug boosts that some athletes have taken in order to prolong their careers. Even Vijay Singh, the 49-year-old Fiji who is a star on the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) tour, admitted to using deer antler extract, which he says he took unknowingly. He’s now being investigated by the PGA for possible rule violations.
In recent weeks, we’ve heard cycling superstar Lance Armstrong admit to taking steroids, after literally a decade of staunch and adamant denial. Baseball slugger Alex Rodriguez may miss the entire 2013 season as a member of the New York Yankees roster after hip surgery and other rehabilitation that many suspect can be traced back to illegal steroid and other drug usage.
And Manti T’eo, defensive star of Notre Dame’s college football team that went undefeated until being pummeled by the University of Alabama in the BCS national championship game, was the victim (?) of an internet hoax in which he allegedly carried on a long-distance romance with a young woman who died a tragic death in the same week when his grandmother passed away. Except that his girlfriend didn’t exist, something Notre Dame athletic administration executives didn’t clear up properly even after hearing that the young woman was non-existent.
Right now we’re finally into the truncated 2012-13 National Hockey League season, and the Blues have roared out of the gate. Before that excitement, though, we had to endure more than four months of tedious and unnecessary posturing by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the owners on one side and players’ union rep Donald Fehr and his members on the other.
The point is that illegal drugs, labor negotiations, escalating salaries and an increasing number of players who simply act like thugs in domestic abuse cases, assaults and other criminal areas have taken away a lion’s share of the time devoted to sports by our media.
Recently here in St. Louis, our shining knight, Stan “The Man” Musial, passed away at age 92. It was heartwarming to see the outpouring of respect, admiration and affection for this baseball star who was first and foremost a gracious, humble, dignified and wonderful human being.
The truth is that, if more players emulated Stan’s off-the-field example, we’d see much more time and space devoted to athletic accomplishments than shameful behavior by our sports icons.
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