Vick, Stallworth, Ben, Tiger — I’m pulling for all four of them

March 11, 2010 | Drew Forrester

I’m not sure if there was a defining moment or anything specific that pushed me over the edge, but something’s definitely going on. 

Maybe I’m just getting older.  Well, I’m DEFINITELY getting older.  What I mean…is that maybe my old(er) age is starting to soften me up a bit.

A lot of this contemplation started last week when those bunch of goofs down in College Park taunted Duke’s Jon Scheyer with the “F*** You Scheyer” chant all night.  It was not only completely bush league and inappropriate, but Jon Scheyer didn’t deserve that kind of treatment at all.  It was a sad night for Maryland, to represent the school like that, and a sad night for Jon Scheyer.

And there’s no doubt this week’s visit by Michael Vick has something do with it, too.  A Monday e-mail exchange with “Pamela” – she wanted me to join “her group” in protesting Vick at Martin’s West – aggravated me to no end.  This woman’s main goal on Monday was to make Vick’s life miserable.  I kept wondering to myself, “you’re really going to spend four hours of your life trying to embarrass this dude when he’s already done more than enough to embarrass himself?” 

Whatever the case…as I soften up…I have to admit this.  And I’m admitting it mainly because I’m sort of discovering it in myself as I think and write about it.  I’m pulling for Michael Vick.  And Donte’ Stallworth.  And Ben Roethlisberger.  And Tiger Woods.

I hope all four of them find happiness.  Yep.  You read that right.  I want them all to be happy.

And I’m not going to pile on.  At least not when it pertains to off-the-field stuff.  I’ll definitely giggle if Big Ben throws a pick to Lardarius Webb in the final moments of a game next year between the Steelers and Ravens — and we’ll revel it about it on the air — but in terms of jumping to stupid conclusions and writing or saying stuff like “Ben Rapistberger” and making light of his potentially life-altering situation in Georgia…I think I’ll pass. 

In their own individual way, each of the four has a problem of a different nature.  Vick was incarcerated for his role in a dog fighting business that he both bankrolled and operated.  He lost nearly everything he had worked for…and his freedom…and his job.  Stallworth had too much to drink one night and drove his vehicle into a man and killed him.  I’m not sure if Donte Stallworth had a drinking problem, per-se.  Perhaps he was just incredibly unlucky that morning.  Wrong place, wrong time.  But he has a new problem now.  He was responsible for another person’s death. That’s not something I’d like to deal with, I know that for sure.  I have no idea what the end-result will be with Roethlisberger’s current issue in Georgia, but this is apparent: Ben likes to drink alcohol.  A lot of men (and women) do.  But it would appear, based on not only the Georgia incident but other stories that are now being told in Pittsburgh, that Ben doesn’t know when to STOP drinking.  That’s a problem.  And Tiger Woods is going through the most embarrassing of public floggings, having now confessed to numerous affairs and encounters with women all over the country.  While it hasn’t cost Woods his worth, the damage he’s done to his family, his brand and his legacy will take years (and years) to patch up.  And he might not ever be the same…on and off the course.

I’m rooting for all four of those guys to get their lives straightened out and I’m pulling for each of them to rise back to greatness.

I’m rooting for those four guys in the exact same way I’ve been rooting for Todd Bozeman over the last five years.  Bozeman showed up in Baltimore on the heels of a humiliating public dismissal after being caught cheating at Cal and was rooted AGAINST when he set up shop over at Morgan State.  People in this town, even, hoped he would fail.

Not me.  I pulled for Todd Bozeman and I’m glad I did.  I know him now, having interviewed him a bunch of times, and I’m as impressed with him OFF the court as I am with him ON the court.

But back to the likes of Vick and the others who are experiencing, in different ways, their own personal downfall.

I’m tired of reading, watching and hearing people wish ill will on those four.  And while I think it’s always fair to chronicle what they’ve done, why they’ve done it and what the proper punishment might be if, in fact, they face some sort of criminal charge and/or punitive action from their league or team, I think I’m officially done HOPING that someone fails.

Actually, it’s not “I think I’m officially done” — make that, “I’m officially done” hoping someone fails.

And I don’t care if the person plays for the Yankees, the Steelers, the Redskins, the Flyers, Duke or any other “rival” of the teams we all love to root against.  I might want them to lose ON THE FIELD, but I don’t want anyone to fail personally — as a father, a husband, a son, a daughter, etc.  I hope the Ravens beat the Steelers 27-0 and 27-0 next year.  But I also hope Ben Roethlisberger can remedy his apparent drinking problem. 

As I read the newspaper, magazines and editorial content on the internet, all I’m seeing these days are folks reveling in someone’s misfortune.

Here in Baltimore, for example, a huge majority of folks think it’s FUNNY that Ben Roethlisberger has experienced this downfall with the 20-year old female in Georgia.  A group of nearly 200 protesters stood outside of Martin’s West on Monday night with signs criticizing Michael Vick’s appearance at the Ed Block Courage Award dinner.

I don’t think Ben Roethlisberger’s story is funny.  You might.  A lot of people do, evidently.  It’s not funny…it’s sad. It’s sad that alcohol has apparently taken control of this young man’s life in certain situations.  It’s sad that some young lady had to drop out of college in Georgia because of the harrassment and humiliation she was enduring once word leaked out she was the girl in question with Roethlisberger.  There’s nothing funny about the story.  Nothing at all.  If law enforcement officials deem that Roethlisberger’s behavior violated the law, he’ll have to face his day in court and what will be, will be.  But I don’t wish ill will on him.  I hope he gets his life straightened out and makes it a point to discuss the (negative) impact that consuming too much alcohol had on his life.

I hope Michael Vick is successful too.  As I mentioned on Monday when discussing his situation, how much lower does a man have to go before people will say, “OK, you’ve had enough misery heaped on you”?  While he continues to move on with the “next chapter” of his life, I can honestly say I think Michael Vick, somehow, will have his shining moment at some point in the near future.

Donte’ Stallworth is in the beginning stages of rebuilding his life.  Who knows what lies ahead for him?  This time next year, he could be the Ravens’ Ed Block award winner for all we know.  I hope Donte’ Stallworth finds peace.  What he does on the football field is neither here nor there at this point.  His story and message about the perils of drinking and driving is now far more important than any pass he might catch in Baltimore or anywhere else for that matter.  I have taken a hard stance against folks who drink and drive.  My wife and I were hit by a drunk driver on November 12, 2006.  But I know Donte’ Stallworth would do anything to change that morning in Miami when he made the mistake of putting his car in drive after having too much to drink.  And he’s going to pay for that mistake forever.  I wish him nothing but success from here on in.

As for Tiger, no matter how many Saturday Night Live spoofs are aired, there’s nothing funny about what’s happened to him and his family over the last three months.  It’s sad.  In fact, it’s one of the saddest stories in sports of the last decade.  Role model athlete turned character-flawed scallywag.  I hope he and his wife find happiness and I hope his children grow up in a loving home.  What happens to him in golf is neither here nor there.  He’ll get whatever the game gives him, I suppose.  In life, though, I’m pulling for Tiger.  I hope he and his family wind up happy.

I’m tired of people laughing at the misfortunes of others.

I need to do a better job, personally, of making sure I’m not in that club.  In fact, I can guarantee you I’m NOT going to be in that club.

I’m not hear preaching to you about how you should conduct yourself.  Not at all.  I don’t really care what you think about Vick, Tiger, Ben or Donte’.  If you want to pile on, go right ahead.

I’m just letting you know I’m not piling on anymore. 

I’m not going to make fun of Roethlisberger on the air.  Or Woods.  Or Stallworth.  Or anyone else who encounters their own personal bump in the road.  I’ll cover, discuss and critique their behavior, their performance and anything else topical to sports talk.  But “hoping” Roethlisberger’s career is ruined?  Not gonna be a party to that.  Hoping Woods hits rock bottom…loses his wife and kids?  No chance I’m going to wish for that.  Protesting Michael Vick and saying he doesn’t deserve another day of happiness in his life?  Nope…not from this guy.

I’m reading and hearing a lot of “mean-spirited” stuff these days.  Folks really do enjoy seeing someone’s life fall apart.  That’s a sickness in and of itself, I’d say.

That’s one of the reasons why I took such an exception to the Ravens fan who was photographed urinating on Bob Irsay’s grave and then shipped the pictures out on the internet for everyone to see.  That brought shame to the purple…to the Ravens…to Steve Bisciotti…to Ozzie Newsome…and it was done in some apparent gesture of “speaking on behalf of Baltimore football fans”.  Well, that guy wasn’t speaking for Drew.  Urinating on someone’s grave is unacceptable to ME.

Speaking of doing something completely unacceptable, Howard Stern brought together a bunch of women who confessed to having sex with Tiger Woods and had a “Mistress Beauty Pagent” for them on Wednesday of this week. He brought them all in studio, scantily clad, and had each of them confess the wild and dirty sex secrets of Tiger Woods. And he gave the winner $75,000.

Howard Stern is wildly successful.  He’s arguably the most popular radio DJ of my lifetime.  He helped MAKE satellite radio.

And Wednesday, he gave $75,000 to someone who came on the air and basically reveled in the fact that she helped contribute to Tiger Woods’ personal and professional downfall.

How many charities in our country could have used that $75,000?  I assume there’s a homeless shelter in New York City that could have greatly benefitted from Stern’s generosity, right?

It’s a sad day in our country when a woman who played a part in (almost) wrecking a family gets a $75,000 check and a place like the St. Vincent’s Center in Baltimore needs – and uses – every dime they can get to help abused children.

Take a walk around your neighborhood tonight and look at the front door of all the people living around you. There’s strife, sadness, tough times and futility of some kind in almost every home in America — if you’re lucky, it’s minimal.

I’m fortunate — very much so — that I don’t have a lot of internal issues behind my front door.  My wife misplaced her cell phone in our house last weekend.  That’s the biggest battle we’ve faced this week.  We can’t find it and it’s driving us nuts.  Other than that, we’re blessed.

If this is what happens when you get old, getting soft and all, I guess I’ll have to deal with it.

I just don’t see the point in wishing ill will on these people who have fallen on hard times, no matter if it’s due to their own bad luck, stupidity, selfishness or personal addiction.

I wish them all — Vick, Stallworth, Woods and Roethlisberger — the best.

I can honestly say, without question, I’m rooting for all four of them to bounce back.

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