There is a difference between the sagas of Leonard Little (above) and Ray Lewis versus guys like Michael Vick, Plaxico Burress and Brandon Marshall. (via cache.daylife.com)
First, let me offer my apologies for being so late with this. I hate missing self-imposed deadlines, and I definitely did with this one. But the k is back, and I'm getting back into the groove with part 2 of my "role models gone wild" series.
In part 1, I argued that the addition of any of the Vick, Burress or Marshall trio would be a poor element to add to the team, mainly because they have a track record of behavior that suggests they would not make the most out of the opportunity.
There is a difference, however, between those three and athletes who get, and deserve, a second chance.
More after the jump.
Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future. - Oscar Wilde
I've gone on record saying the characters the Rams add over the next few years as we rebuild ourselves into playoff contention needn't be squeaky clean. No, we cannot afford to bring in guys who exhibit consistent off-the-field problems that interrupt their lives to the degree that it affects their performance on the field as well as the franchise's health. We can, and should, bring in players who are talented whose quirks, misgivings and vices can be controlled to the point where they do not affect their professional outputs.
Consider Ray Lewis. Lewis is one of the most well-respected, feared linebackers in the history of professional football. Lewis is known as a consummate teammate and a ferociously dedicated laborer, a prime example of someone who overcomes a difficult adolescence and rises to highest tier of his sport. For a more profound read into Ray's travails, check out the WaPo's 2004 summation that does more justice to the man, and the story, of Ray Lewis. For the lazier of you (and those who are either under 13 or just got into football with the advent of Turf Show Times), Lewis was implicated in a double homicide in early 2000, nearly a year to the day before he was awarded the MVP trophy for his role in the Ravens' Super Bowl XXXV victory over the Giants. How does this make him different than any of the 2009 trio of Vick-Marshall-Burress? That was the first incident in which Lewis was ever known to have been involved in (in the public) that was anything but positive.
And what about our own Leonard Little? One year and three months before he helped the Rams win their only Super Bowl Trophy in SB XXXIV, a drunk Little plowed into Susan Gutweiler, ending her life. Later to everyone's amazement, Little picked up a second DUI, although this arrest cost no lives. Despite his efforts, Little continues to be painted in a negative light, and I suppose that's his cross to bear. But let's compare a 2001 Leonard Little to our trio of today. The prime difference again is someone whose mistake, which is an understatement to say nothing else, was the sole blemish on a life that was otherwise relatively spotless in the public eye.
I'm not saying Lewis and Little are perfect; I don't know them, and I'm not trying to judge them. But what is obvious to me, and what I hope would be obvious to everyone else, is that there is a blatant difference between guys like Vick, Marshall and Burress who have repeatedly exhibited behaviors and extirpated what would have otherwise have been tremendous careers.
This is the difference between Fakhir Brown and Claude Wroten, people who have made mistakes and people who have made mistakes part of their lifestyles. I'm not defending Ray Lewis or Leonard Little in the least. What I'm doing is defending the age old maxim that people who make mistakes deserve a second chance, deserve a shot at redemption. People who squander those second chances (and there's a fair argument to be made that neither Vick nor Burress have received a "true" second chance, and that their previous transgressions were so minor in comparison to their more publicized misdeeds that to apply the term "second chance" to their pasts is unfair), I opine, don't deserve the same breaks as those have yet to receive them.
And with that, I'll let you guys jump on me. And strangely, I missed TST. Hit me up.