By: Patti Bankson
Well, everyoneâ€™s shocked! Another bad boy in sports. I guess what makes this one so shocking is that Tim Donaghy is a higher-up bad boy. An NBA referee. And although heâ€™s not supposed to gamble at all, he not only does, allegedly, but also has a gambling problem… with mafia roots. Hmm. No job, no repayment of gambling debt or no way to fix games/scores = no knee caps. Hope he knows a surgeon who does knee (cap) replacements, â€˜cause it sounds like he might be in need of his or her services.
We all know heâ€™s not the first sports figure to get into trouble. And while most of them get away with their knee caps, they donâ€™t always get away with their freedom. Some donâ€™t get away at all; they die, like ex-Gator, Avery Atkins did earlier this month. Atkins was just 20-years old.
Itâ€™s sad to see someone so young and so full of promise die. But then, itâ€™s almost as sad to watch those who donâ€™t die live on in a world where just about anything they do is overlooked or excused because they bring in alumni financial support, and they sell tickets.
At least thatâ€™s the way it has been. But it looks like maybe that kind of thinking is changing in the sports world. Iâ€™m not sure how much of that change is a result of increased integrity in management, or how much is a result of teams having to pay really big bucks only to have a player bring down their fansâ€™ wrath; or cost them even more big bucks when he ends up unable to play because heâ€™s sitting in jail. In a way, it doesnâ€™t matter to me which it is. Iâ€™m just glad to see somebody at least looking like theyâ€™re holding the bad boys responsible for their behavior. I say â€œlooking likeâ€ because there appears to be a question regarding the NBAâ€™s â€œinnocenceâ€ when it comes to how much they knew about Donaghyâ€™s gambling. Maybe weâ€™ll hear the answer to that question in the future, if indeed itâ€™s a valid question. In the meantime, in his statement to the press on Tuesday, NBA Commissioner Stern did a good job of â€œlooking like…â€. My goodness… Stern even called Donaghy a criminal.
Meanwhile, in the NFL, Atlanta Falconâ€™s QB, Michael Vick, was â€œuninvitedâ€ to training camp until after the league reviews his indictment on federal criminal charges. As I write this, the Falconâ€™s training camp is scheduled to open on the same day that Vick and three other men are to be arraigned in Richmond, Va. Theyâ€™re charged with allegedly sponsoring a dog-fighting â€œbusinessâ€, and with brutal treatment of dogs; pit bulls.
Then thereâ€™s former Chicago Bearsâ€™ Tank Johnson, arrested on suspicion of drunk driving in Arizona. The case was closed with no prosecution requested, but he was released by the Bears three days later. And Oakland Raiders reserve DE, Bryant McNeal was arrested on an outstanding warrant from Florida, where he was wanted for selling a Land Rover to a pawnbroker for $15,000. So what, you say? So, he didnâ€™t own it!!
These guys are poster boys for the word â€œnon-heroesâ€… poster boys we donâ€™t want tacked on our sonsâ€™ bedroom walls… poster boys for poor sports… poster boys for promise unfulfilled.
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