- Special Sections
- Public Notices
For the second Sunday in a row, an NFL team took the field with heavy hearts after the loss of a teammate. First it was the Kansas City Chiefs who were reeling last Sunday, just one day after one of their key defensive players, Javon Belcher, shot and killed his girlfriend and then later used another gun to kill himself.
This week, the tragedy took place in Dallas when Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent wrecked his car, killing his passenger and teammate, Jerry Brown. Brent has been charged as a result of the accident and another NFL team is attending another funeral.
Is there a common denominator in the two cases besides the occupations of those who caused the deaths? Yes. They used different weapons to do their killing. Belcher used a gun, and predictably, much of the outcry after that event centered on gun-control, as is always the case when an irresponsible person makes the choice to pull the trigger. Brent however, used a motor vehicle as his killing tool, but as of yet, there have been no national cries to outlaw cars.
The single common denominator in both cases, however, is alcohol. Reports are that Belcher had been drinking heavily the night before the murder-suicide, and that he drank heavily most every day and often combined the alcohol with pain killers. In Texas, Brent and Brown and spent the evening in a Dallas club drinking heavily and the club’s events promoter boasted in tweets about the heavy flow of alcohol and that there were at least 12 Cowboys partying at their establishment that night.
The Belcher tragedy has been seen as an invitation to begin another national discussion on guns. The discussion needs to be on alcohol, but don’t hold your breath. The booze industry plays such an influential role in college and professional sports, the powers-that-be will tiptoe around the subject. So what if alcohol impedes judgment? So what if it lowers inhibitions? So what if causes adults to behave like irresponsible children. The alcohol industry spends so much in advertising and sponsorships of sports, they are all but immune to criticism.
Brown had already had one DUI conviction on his record, and the NFL has a program that allows them to call for a cab or limo virtually anywhere in the U.S. for transportation if they’ve had too much to drink. Why didn’t he use the good judgment to call for a ride? His judgment was impaired. Alcohol robbed him of his good senses, but we can’t say that too loudly and Costas can’t really editorialize on that between beer commercials.
Instead, we’ll have other athletes claim other lives through recklessness, carelessness and impaired judgment. We’ll never lay the blame on the substance that poisons their brain, because that’s the same substance that lines the pockets of owners, television executives and professional leagues and college conferences.
New coach at Western
I’m not surprised at all with Western Kentucky University’s announcement Monday that Bobby Petrino would be packing his family and his personal baggage to Bowling Green to take over the Hilltopper program. Petrino had been passed over by the big names, and once I heard that Willie Taggart was being wooed by South Florida, I told several people that Petrino would end up at a mid-major school like Western.
I completely understand the reservations of some fans and even agree. But I can also see how this is a good hire for WKU. In just the first couple of hours after the hire, WKU football has had more attention than it’s had in years. It’s reportedly written in the contract that Petrino will have to buy his way out of his contract with WKU to the tune of $1.2 million if he decides to leave early for a bigger school. And no doubt, Petrino is an offensive genius who will inject some immediate energy, enthusiasm and excitement into WKU football.
For WKU, it’s a no –lose situation. For Petrino, it’s a chance to prove that he is a changed man from the sad soul we saw several months ago following a motorcycle wreck that also revealed his adultery, his lying to the university and his lack of character. Here’s hoping both school and coach take advantage of their opportunities.
UK 84th RPI
Kentucky is currently ranked 84th in the RPI. Yes, in men’s college basketball. That’s not so much a reflection of their subpar performance on the court as much as it is a reflection of their subpar schedule. Several months ago as Coach John Calipari was wiggling his way out of contracts with IU and UNC, he boasted that UK was a non-traditional program and needed to schedule games in a non-traditional way. He said he needed to protect the young players he would regularly bring into the program. I guess an 84th ranking is pretty good protection.
Baseball Hall of Fame
Voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame is currently wrapping up and will be announced next month. This year there are some big names eligible. Guys like Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens and others who have all been linked to steroid use during their playing days. The numbers some of these players posted during their career are certainly worthy of Cooperstown, but their decision to boost their performance artificially through the use of banned substances taints their accomplishments.
It seems many of the great players during this entire era could be suspected of steroid use, and it seems likely there have and or will be some inducted who are just as guilty as the more infamous suspects. It’s been suggested that players from this era be inducted with an asterisk next to their name to denote the dubious time in the league’s history. It might be unfair to the truly clean players, but it might be the only long-term solution.
My feeling is that at some point, most of these players with the credible numbers will get into the Hall. It may even take decades, but their records should never be allowed to overshadow those for whom there was never a doubt the played the game clean of any illegal chemicals.
Major League Baseball should set that precedent now with recognition of record holders.
When referencing the Home Run King for example, the league could mention that Barry Bonds hit the most, but it should reserve the title of Home Run King for Hank Aaron, until someone legitimately and without question, passes him.