Be careful when choosing your sports heroes.


The National Football League loves to celebrate itself.  All organized sports do.  It’s all about the good work they do and the citizenship of their players.  Even the worst of the lot can, and will, be portrayed as role models we’d all be happy to have our kids pattern themselves after.

Ray Lewis, who has yet to produce the bloodstained suit that was to be evidence in a still unsolved murder case, is ESPN’s latest ambassador from the NFL, the squeaky clean go to guy on all things NFL, with the ESPN preferred hard edge.

No sport is immune.  Apparently some of the, as yet, unreleased testimony from Major League Baseball chief operating officer Rob Manfred in the Alex Rodriquez suspension appeal hearings has to do with how much commissioner Bud Selig knew about the sale of steroids by Biogenisis to teenagers before he chose to give Biogenisis owner Tony Bosch a free pass to be his go to guy against A-Rod.

The NBA isn’t clean.  The pre season build up of the Knicks centers on the wonderfulness of Metta World Peace and how much better he makes them.  As Ron Artest, you may remember, he did more to trash the citizenship image of the NBA than any other single player, including going into the stands to beat up fans.

But this is about the NFL, because today the league is asking fans to vote on the best NFL United Way PSA’s to celebrate the 40th anniversary of that partnership.  It’s a great program, one that really delivers for myriad charities, but it also offers the NFL a distraction from the actions of many of it’s players while giving the impression all of their players are personally involved in the United Way ventures.  Many of them either aren’t aware of the program that’s carried out in their name, or couldn’t care less.

Last weekend in the NFL was one of celebrating the courage of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who has already been made the center piece of this week’s Monday night showcase, the Vikings visiting the Giants.  Peterson’s courageous act, celebrated from one NFL network partner to another, ESPN, CBS, FOX, NFL Network, was having the fortitude to play in last Sunday’s game, barely 48 hours after the murder of his two year old son.  What a courageous decision it was to announce within two hours of learning of the death that he was “Ready to roll” on Sunday.

Network talking heads didn’t hesitate to mention his charitable work in their weekend long dissection of the heart of the man.  They never questioned how much courage it took for Adrian Peterson to have seven children by seven different women, all out of wedlock, or how much courage it took for him to ignore his son to the point of not providing him with a safe environment.  Any involved parent who ever lost a child understands that announcing an immediate return to work isn’t normally part of the equation.  Maybe for a man who has treated his celebrity status as a “get out of jail free” card on a number of occasions it is.  A Sunday in the spotlight was more important to Adrian Peterson than a lifeless two year old child.

You have to be very careful who you chose for your heroes today, because every sport is out there selling them in all kinds of packages.

With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.


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