Pro athletes, you’re letting us down

If you’re looking for a role model, don’t look at athletes

As I was cruising headlines Saturday morning and drinking my dark roast coffee, I checked out sports headlines on CBS’s website. I’ve mostly given up on pro sports after New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s inflation problem.

But two stories really caught me that morning. One, “NFL notebook Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones to retire,” and, actually, the lack of a story: anything in the golf report about Tiger Woods.

Adam “Pacman” Jones was highly touted by scouts when he came out of West Virginia University in 2005, drafted sixth overall in the first round of the 2005 NFL draft. He distinguished himself in college as a defensive back and special teams player, and his ball-hawking skills served him well as he entered the NFL at a time when passing attacks were becoming more prominent; teams also needed players liked Jones to stop opposing quarterbacks.

One thing about Jones, though. Scouts could look at his football skills but no one can see moral character. Jones ended up getting suspended by the NFL for the 2007 season and part of the 2008 season for, among other things, a shooting outside a nightclub that left a man paralyzed. It was revealed later the shooter was part of Jones’ “entourage.” Jones ended up paying over $11 million in damages to victims of the shooting.

He must have come to his senses though and realized his career in the NFL was valued at millions of dollars. He generally stayed out of trouble after that, and of course the NFL owners were only too anxious to give him a second or third chance, as needed. The NFL owners care about winning, and, judging by the fact people like Adam “Pacman” Jones spent their lives playing in the NFL despite their serious moral shortcomings, that’s all the owners care about.

The fact that pro golfer Tiger Woods was leading at a major tournament over the past few weeks was a shock to anyone who follows the sport but it certainly wasn’t unwelcome, especially to sports agencies who immediately jumped on the Tiger bandwagon.

The state of Tiger’s health is well known to golf fans: his list of injuries is serious and derailed his career over the past 10 years. However, all it took was one good week and Tiger’s back. One sports site had the story, “Tiger Woods: the rise, fall and comeback” displayed prominently. Comeback might be a stretch. Let’s wait and see what happens, shall we?

I don’t think I need to go into detail about Tiger’s moral character. I think we know all about it. But Tiger’s dollar value as a pro athlete was once estimated to be the highest in pro sports history. Higher than Michael Jordan, and that’s saying something. But Michael Jordan is a subject for another day.

So despite the serious moral failings, there are plenty in the golf world who’d love to make more money off this. I’m sure some of those folks were sitting there rubbing their hands together thinking “Tiger’s back” and about that Tiger money that could come rolling in again, but they’re probably getting ahead of themselves. Tiger’s getting up there and pro athletes don’t age like fine wine.

Those headlines reminded me why I slowly and inexorably lost interest in pro sports (Update: Tiger was cut May 17 from the PGA Championship with a five-over).

Stu Salkeld is editor of The Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the newspaper.

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