Watching sports should be a lot more depressing than it is. Here we are sitting around eating chips and wings and drinking cheap beer while watching other men on television, making millions for playing a game. We’ve got friends. They’ve got entourages. We’ve got girlfriends. They’ve got groupies. We hate commercials. They make ‘em.
And as if all the perks that come with being an athlete aren’t enough, they’re better people than we are as well. At least that’s how the talking-heads see it. Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player ever because he had the will power the rest of us lack. Brett Favre is still throwing touchdown passes because he’s got more heart than us mortals. It’s LeBron James’ courage that separates him from me, not his size or athletic ability. In fact, talent almost always finds itself somewhere behind determination, work ethic, drive, focus, intensity and confidence.
Really makes you want to pass up the Pabst and start pounding Prozac, right?
Well don’t, because the truth is most athletes are more flawed than a handbag from Canal Street. Case in point: Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera and former Cleveland Browns receiver Braylon Edwards. Both players made news last weekend for foolish off-the-field behavior that resulted in the Tigers missing the playoffs and Edwards being traded to New York.
With his team needing to win its final two games in order to wrap up the American League Central, Cabrera focused on getting frat boy drunk early Saturday morning and then proceeded to go home and get into a fight with his wife. A fight that was serious enough for the police to be called to their residence and for Cabrera to be taken into custody.
Imagine the phone call made to Tigers team president Dave Dombrowski, who had to go pick up his star player at the station a few hours before the biggest game of the season. Probably took a lot of will power not to strangle Cabrera right there on the spot. But you have to protect your assets, even when they act like asses.
You know the rest. Cabrera took an o-fer (he didn’t get a hit all weekend) and the Tigers lost. A win Sunday forced a one-game playoff with the Minnesota Twins. Their season ended Tuesday night.
Roughly ten hours later, the Browns were completing a trade that sent their troubled star to the Jets. Edwards didn’t catch a pass in another Browns loss last Sunday and was determined to drink his woes away that evening. He complained to a local media member and then he punched one of LeBron James’ friends in the face.
That’s not courage. That’s beer balls.
But of course, Edwards got what he wanted all along. No thanks to hard work or perseverance, though. He whined and cried and became enough of a disturbance to the Browns that they sent him away, giving him a new lease on life with a much better team.
Now Edwards should get to the playoffs for the first time in his career. Maybe even the Super Bowl. That will probably earn him a new contract and the same praise another entitled crybaby, Randy Moss, got when he came to New England. They’ll call him rejuvenated, a player who just needed a change of scenery.
Life is even easier for Cabrera. He was reprimanded, but what can Dombrowski and the Tigers really do with him? This was only the second of an eight year, $153 million dollar contract and he’s guaranteed every penny no matter how often he shows up to the field hung over.
So as it usually plays out in these situations, the bad guys won. And that’s the only reason for being depressed when it comes to sports.
When athletes stop supplying but keep demanding.