Seeking role model athletes? You don’t have to look too Favre
If you ask me, professional athletes get a bad rap. Sure, many of them ingest steroids, drive drunk and assault women (sometimes all in one day), but for the most part, they are decent, regular guys who stick to more normal activities, such as organizing dog fighting rings.
I can pinpoint the exact moment when my idolatry of pro athletes began to wane: Fort Collins, July 1978. My parents took my brother and me to the Broncos training camp, seeing as how I was the Broncos’ No. 1 fan. Not in the “I really like them” sense, but more like the “I know the name of the team’s safety, where he went to college and his birthday” sense. (Billy Thompson – Maryland State – Oct. 10).
So at the camp, all of us hero-worshiping boys would huddle just outside the locker room door, waiting to approach players for autographs as they left practice. Sometimes the autograph would be from a marquee player (“Look! I got Tom Jackson!”), while other times it would end up being the guy on the training staff in charge of buying surgical tape. We weren’t picky.
All we wanted was to be close to the players. Which is why it was strange to hear other kids mention how Bronco star receiver Rick Upchurch didn’t sign autographs. He was even seen sneaking out a different exit door — the assumption being he wanted to avoid Bronco obsessed 9-year old boys like me.
The problem for him, however, was that Bronco-obsessed 9-year-old boys don’t exactly know how to take a hint.
So I followed him out to the parking lot, all the way to his car, and would have trailed him even farther if I had to, because for one, my dad took time off from work and drove us over the Continental Divide in our 1972 Chevy Vega station wagon to be there and, secondly, my mom. God bless my mom.
Do you think she ever dreamed of spending her summer vacation in the hot, humid northern Colorado plains with two hyperactive boys watching a football practice? No. She’d rather be reading romance novels while sipping banana daiquiris beachside in St. Barts. So, Mr. Upchurch, here’s my paper and pen. I know you’re much bigger than me, but you WILL sign it.
And sign it he did. It was a quick, illegible scribble, but it did the trick. Still I could tell that he didn’t care about regular fans like me. Even a 9-year old boy can tell.
Yet today’s athletes are even worse. The Brett Favre scandal fascinates me. The allegations he texted a female New York Jets employee naked pictures of himself wearing nothing but Crocs is just flat out weird. The Crocs part, I mean. The nakedness I can understand. Who among us hasn’t electronically sent pictures of our private parts to a coworker? But Crocs? The only people who should own a pair of Crocs are nurses or first-graders.
Favre’s wife is making the talk show rounds, and she seems to be handling the controversy well — a lot better than my wife would be if I were in his shoes, uh, Crocs:
Me: Um honey, I have a confession to make. I’ve been texting naked pictures of myself to a young, attractive coworker.
Wife: You WHAT?
Me: I’m really sorry.
Wife: You should be. Those standard text messaging rates can really add up.
Then there’s Michael Vick, who — if the afterlife is anywhere close to how I hope it is — will spend eternity being chased by angry pit bulls. There’s JaMarcus Russell, who made $39 million, but recently was arrested for illegal possession of cough syrup. There’s Ben Roethlisberger, and Braylon Edwards, and the list goes on and on to the point where I want to e-mail these guys and ask them what the hell are they thinking.
I won’t, of course, because they’d tell me how hard it is to be rich and famous and they’d just wind up getting mad at me, so much so that I’d be afraid to read their e-mails.
I’d be especially afraid to see their texts.