There are times when it is difficult – in some instances, next to impossible – to be a sports fan.
If the recent present hasn’t been one of those times, then I couldn’t tell you when it would be.
Let’s briefly run down the most recent big stories, shall we?
- The Ray Rice scandal continues: after the shocking elevator footage was released just a couple days ago, the Baltimore Ravens RB became the former Baltimore Ravens RB, and questions of whether or not NFL commissioner Roger Goodell saw the damning video puts his job in jeopardy – at least, in the eyes of the public. This isn’t even to mention other athletes – namely Panthers LB Greg Hardy and 49ers DE Ray McDonald – who have been dealt the “domestic violence double-standard” card by the media and the general public at large, further staining a league in PR turmoil.
- The “People putting foot-to-mouth about the Ray Rice Scandal” scandal continues: From Floyd Mayweather Jr., to Paul George, to 49ers announcer Ted Robinson, high-profile sports figures are finding themselves on the wrong side of a domestic violence debate that either makes them look ignorant, insensitive, anti-feminist, or all three. In any case, it’s bad for sports, all-around, as a telling sign that it still doesn’t grasp the social problem of domestic violence.
- Adrian Peterson faces arrest for Child Abuse charge: The All-Pro Minnesota Vikings RB was indicted by a Montgomery, Texas grand jury on charges of reckless or negligent injury of a child, stemming from an incident last May in which Peterson used a tree branch to discipline his four-year-old son. The injuries on the boy were reported to be extensive, and, if convicted, Peterson could face two to ten years in prison. He was recently deactivated by the Vikings as a result of the arrest warrant.
- Oscar Pistorius found guilty of “culpable homicide”: After beating a premeditated murder charge, the South African paralympian famously known as “Blade Runner” was convicted of culpable homicide – an American equivalent of a manslaughter charge – in the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. He faces a maximum of 15 years in prison. Sentencing will be on October 13.
- Atlanta Hawks GM Danny Ferry on indefinite leave of absence: After the news came out that Ferry, a 14-year NBA veteran, said racially insensitive remarks about Luol Deng – referring to the current Miami Heat forward as having “a little African in him” – it became a high-profile, racially-charged incident involving an NBA higher-up, in the post-Donald Sterling era. Magic Johnson has already called for Ferry’s resignation.
- The LeSean McCoy tipping debacle simply won’t die: In what can be considered the most trivial of bad stories, the Eagles star RB has continued to receive criticism for leaving a 20-cent tip for a 66-dollar bill at a PYT restaurant in Philadelphia. It’s turned into a “he-said, she-said” of sorts, between McCoy and the restaurant – owner Tommy Up insists McCoy and his group were excessively rude to the waiter on top of leaving a 0.3% tip. Meanwhile, McCoy spoke up and said he left the tip because of poor, “disrespectful” service. In a story that makes Charlie Sheen literally look like the good guy, it’s ultimately a petty squabble that does neither party any good in the media realm.
Are you hating the sports world, yet? Because I kind of am.
Luckily, in the midst of all the relative media- and sports-related sludge – much like the comment sections of various big-name websites (who shall remain nameless) – some sports stories, that manage to restore a little faith in humanity, shine through in the darkness.
If you had shunned the NFL world as a result of all the recent transgressions, I wouldn’t blame you if you missed this story.
A former All-American DT from Penn State University, Still was cut in late August from the Cincinnati Bengals practice squad. Not an unusual occasion, as practice squad players get picked up and let go like spare change you find on any given city street.
But he was playing, and staying employed, for more than just himself – his job was helping him pay for treatment, not only with the minimum paycheck of $6,300 a week, but with the health insurance the league provides. Treatment for his four-year-old daughter’s pediatric cancer: a condition that leaves those afflicted with a 50-50 chance – a coin-flip – of survival.
In response, the Bengals would make sure that, if he cleared waivers, he would be brought back to the team. That’s exactly what happened.
But, wait – it gets better. To help Still’s daughter, Leah, and many other pediatric cancer patients, the Bengals allowed Still’s No. 75 jersey to be sold, with 100% of the proceeds going to the pediatric cancer treatment and research facilities of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Word spread via sports leaders like ESPN, and sales of his jersey set Bengals records in just the past few days. New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton even bought 100 Still jerseys for the cause.
Roy Hibbert’s captured Random Act of Kindness:
Here’s the thing about this story – it’s more about the person Hibbert featured on his instagram account than it is about Hibbert, himself.
But, honestly, it was also a feel-good story for the people he was showcasing – police officers – whom, many know, could use any good karma coming their way, what with the recent headlines of their own.
About a week ago, he was apparently minding his own business at a random Indianapolis road, when he saw a local city police officer pull over to give a homeless man a spare pair of his boots from the trunk of his paddy wagon.
Hibbert wanted to give the officer his props on social media, if for nothing else, to show the random acts of kindness our law enforcement is capable of.
Carlos Hyde’s promise:
The new 49ers RB, considered the new heir apparent to franchise runner Frank Gore, scored his first touchdown of the season, and of his regular season career, in JerryWorld, on a 4-yard run in the second quarter. A good start for a promising rookie.
It’s what he did with the honorary ball afterwards is what gives him the distinction of “feel-good”.
His grandmother, Irma Butler (whom Hyde affectionately called “Granny D”), had helped raise Hyde while he was attending high school in Naples, Florida. When Hyde was set to play in his first NFL game with the 49ers, Granny D apparently texted him beforehand:
Hey, when you score your first touchdown, I want the game ball or the touchdown ball.
I told her, “I got you.”
And he was a man of his word – shortly after the game, he told his grandmother that he would be shipping the touchdown ball to Naples. She, and the rest of his family, was ecstatic.