Coming clean is the way to goThere can’t be a better job in the world than being a professional athlete. Unspendable amounts of money, lavish lifestyles, great hours, unbeatable working conditions — it would be pretty sweet. But if you don’t have the skills to quite cut it, and heavens knows most of us don’t, perfect job No. 2 has to be the army of lawyers representing these people.
By: David Selvig, The Jamestown Sun
There can’t be a better job in the world than being a professional athlete.
Unspendable amounts of money, lavish lifestyles, great hours, unbeatable working conditions — it would be pretty sweet.
But if you don’t have the skills to quite cut it, and heavens knows most of us don’t, perfect job No. 2 has to be the army of lawyers representing these people.
Those of you who have tried to buy a house or get a loan in recent years, know how lawyered up that process has become. It’s staggering.
But no one, and I mean no one, lawyers up like a superstar athlete these days and often times it’s entirely unnecessary.
Last baseball season alone, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz — three of the sport’s biggest stars — were all busted for cheating. When all three names leaked out, none threw themselves on the mercy of the court and cried, “Yes, I’m sorry. I did it.” Instead, they lawyered up and clammed up. To varying degrees later on, they each issued mea culpas, but not until the PR damage was done.
In recent days, Tiger Woods has found himself in hot water. Prior to recent revelations about how Tiger apparently “likes the ladies” — don’t we all? — his largest transgression was dropping a few F-bombs on the golf course from time to time.
But instead of taking the David Letterman approach and getting out in front of the story, Woods bunker-holed hardcore and took a PR beatdown, the way he usually applies them on the golf course. His grand plan was to lawyer up with an expensive Florida attorney and have his agent — another lawyer — speak for him. Why? For having an affair or two?
If there’s one thing most Americans do not care about, it is the original sin. As long as you don’t go the O.J. route, sports fans especially will forgive and forget. Come clean quick and the problems just go away. Look at Letterman. Obviously, he’s not an athlete, although he does own an Indy Racing League team. Since his sex scandal became public, his ratings have shot up and he’s now No. 1 in his time slot. Letterman got all the juicy details out there quick before they could leak out one by one.
Time also tends to allow transgressions to fade away.
Look at A-Rod. He hit a few postseason home runs and now it’s all good.
Unless Manny Ramirez shows up pregnant at spring training in a couple of months from all those fertility ‘roids he was injecting, he’s just another washed up athlete playing out the string — at $20 mill for 2010 — taking overpaid to heights not previously explored.
Mark McGwire, for Pete’s sake, who took pathetic to a new level when he appeared in front of Congress in 2005 as a shell of his former self — literally — has recently been hired by the St. Louis Cardinals as their hitting coach with zero previous coaching experience.
If you’re a superstar, you can do and get away with just about anything and you’ll still be cheered, or hired.
Come next April, you watch. The TV ratings for the Masters will be enormous. If Tiger is contending in the season’s first major, they’ll draw M*A*S*H-esque numbers.
You don’t need to hire a $5,000-per-hour lawyer, who is basically going to tell you the same thing I or anybody else would, which is to just tell the truth from the get-go. You may take a minor hit in the short term, but nothing more.
Look at Kobe Bryant. The cops had a bloody T-shirt from his “encounter” with a receptionist back in 2003 at the posh Colorado spa where he was having knee surgery. Not only did he walk without even being tried, his jersey is currently the No. 1 seller in the NBA in the U.S. and abroad and he’s regained every endorsement deal he lost and then some, including playing Guitar Hero in his boxer shorts — is this a great country for some or what?
I’m not lawyer-bashing either. It is an honorable profession. The intellectual capacity and intellectual discipline — something I regretfully could not muster — it takes to attain your JD is significant.
But make no mistake about it. There are a lot of lessons you can learn in life that you don’t need a fancy lawyer for that America’s current crop of superstars can pass down to the budding batch on the way up.
I’ve also learned a lesson: I should have been a lawyer.
Sun sports writer David Selvig can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org