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When will I learn?

Posted Monday, July 14, 2008, at 7:49 AM

You think I'd have learned my lesson by now.

But no, I guess I haven't.

I pretty much have tried to shy away from attaching myself in a personal way to professional athletes the past 20 years or so.

Not because I don't care about the games I grew up loving, because I still do.

Fact is, I just had grown sick and tired of the boorish attitudes, along with the ever-growing arrest reports, that seem to go hand-in-hand with being a professional athlete.

Look, I know I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed and I do understand that athletes are not necessarily role models (did I get that right, Sir Charles?), but to me, enough had become enough.

Enough with all the preening, posing, too-cool-for-school acting in pro sports.

Enough with all the can't-stay-out-of-trouble-if-my-life-depended-on-it acting in pro sports.

I mean, I don't know how it feels to rake in a jillion bucks a year for playing a game, but I don't think it should give anyone the power to think they can walk on water.

But it does.

So anyway, after witnessing all the trouble Pete Rose got himself into in the mid-to-late 80s, (he was a hero of mine, along with millions of others, during his Big Red Machine days), I was a bit heartbroken and soured.

And don't even get me started on all the steroid controversy in Major League Baseball these days. Whether it's cheating or not, it has just about ruined MLB for me.

And during the 70s, I was a big boxing fan.

I was even a fairly big follower of Mike Tyson (early in his boxing career), before the world found out just how sleezy he really was. A real shock isn't it, that the word sleezy and professional boxing should go together?

I could go on and on with a list of all the athletes that I admired on the playing field, in all sports, only to have been disappointed in the way they played off the field.

But the one weakness I seem to have allowed myself in that area, although I know better, is the position of quarterback.


Burned yet again.

All in the space of a week, by a trio of legendary quarterbacks, no less.

First, University of Alabama and Oakland Raider Hall of Famer Kenny Stabler gets popped for his third driving-under-the-influence charge.

I was never a Crimson Tide nor Raider fan, but I did love the way the Snake tossed the football and brought a linebacker's mentality to the spot of field general. He was a ton of fun to watch.

Then, former University of Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones, these days a struggling wideout for the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars, gets busted for felony cocaine possesion in the very town that made him a legend.

Jones was one of my favorite Razorback footballers of all-time. He could turn nothing into something on just about every snap he touched. He was a ton of fun to watch.

The third All-World QB to let me down last week?

That would be former Green Bay Packer quarterback Bret Favre, although his discretion does not come attached to a police blotter.

Favre's transgression is not being able to make up his mind about retirement, leaving the Packers stuck between an awkward and sticky rock and a hard place.

Four months after tearfully biding the game goodbye, Favre now wants to return, while Green Bay is prepared to move on. He was a ton of fun to watch, but doesn't know how to walk away with the same pride he carried on the turf.

So shame on you Snake, Jones and Favre - all of you.

But most of all, shame on me for expecting better.

Maybe this time I have finally learned my lesson for good.

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Terry Mullins, Sports Editor
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Since my own high school sports career fizzled out before it really reached its zenith, I have managed to live vicariously through the student/athletes of the 16 high schools I've covered for Areawide Media since 2001. I've witnessed the highest of highs in the form of state championships. I have also seen first-hand the sting of disappointment when the ultimate prize was within reach, but still eluded the grasp of its pursuer. But through all the ups and downs associated with high school sports, my respect for the young competitors that suit up each night, along with the men and women who guide them, remains unwavering. Blog mission: With my passion for music, especially live music, running second only to my passion for sports, I'll try to devote this space to both. Especially when it concerns our region and what's happening around it. Look for commentary and features on area sports figures and musicians, along with things to get out and do in the beautiful Spring River/Ozarks area. But I'll not totally ignore the outside - I'll also hit on some national happenings in the wide worlds of sports and music.
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