Column by Brian Hoffman – Sports Editor
A couple comments about two guys who seem to be better on the field than in society.
First, DeShaun Watson. If you’re a football fan you most likely know about the things he’s been accused of. He denies it, but it’s one man’s word against the word of 24 women. Maybe if it’s two women I’d have my doubts, but 24?
Whatever, he’s been accused of abusing women in the guise of getting a massage and, guilty or not, it’s not good publicity for the National Football League. They say no publicity is bad publicity, but in this case I beg to differ.
As you football fans know, Watson was recently traded to the Cleveland Browns for a bunch of draft picks after he agreed to waive his no-trade clause so he could accept a guaranteed $240 million. Not the MegaMillions jackpot, but not bad.
Watson sat out last season in Houston as this hung over his head (no jokes, please), and in fact he was paid last year for not even playing. Currently, he has not been charged with any crime after settling with all but one of his accusers, and don’t think $240 million doesn’t help you settle stuff.
Under NFL rules the commissioner, Roger Goodell, still has the right to suspend Watson for his perceived violations of the league code of conduct. In cases like this the NFL has an arbiter, appointed jointly by the league and players association, to rule on such cases. The arbiter, retired federal judge Sue L. Robinson, decided a fair suspension for Watson would be six games.
Most folks felt Watson got off easy, real easy, with that decision. One of those folks was Goodell, and the NFL has a right to appeal that decision and decided to do so. In fact, Goodell has the right to appeal and appoint himself as the person to hear the appeal, but instead he appointed Peter Harvey, a former New Jersey attorney general. No decision was handed down by press time, but I’ll just bet (the NFL likes betting) Harvey is going to come up with a much longer suspension.
To me, this is ridiculous. No matter what I feel about what Watson did, why even have an arbiter if you don’t have to abide by what the arbiter decides?
Let’s look at this way. Let’s say I get arrested for selling crack cocaine to middle school children on school property. Everyone knows that’s a bad thing, and I’m arrested and go to trial. I’m found guilty by a jury of my peers and the judge sentences me to six years in jail.
HOWEVER, the prosecuting attorney thinks that’s way too light a sentence for what I’ve done so he appeals. Then, he gets to decide who hears the appeal, and he can even appoint himself to hear it if he so chooses.
Why even have a judge if that’s the case? Likewise, why even have an arbiter if Roger Goodell is going to do what he wants anyway?
Meanwhile, the Browns are in limbo, not knowing how long it will be before they know if they have an all-pro quarterback this season. Not that I feel sorry for them, they knew they were buying a snake when they sent all those draft picks to Houston.
And then we have Pete Rose. Oh, Pete Rose, will you ever learn?
Rose was back on a baseball field Sunday when the Philadelphia Phillies celebrated the 40th anniversary of their 1980 World Championship. If 2022 minus 40 doesn’t equal 1980 you can blame the COVID pandemic for that.
Rose got a big cheer, because everyone loved him as a player, and he was a big part of the Phillies first-ever World Series championship. Remember when he caught that foul ball after it popped out of Bob Boone’s catcher’s mitt?
Again, as most of you likely know, after retiring as a player Rose was banned from baseball for betting on games when he was the manager of the Cincinnati Reds, and you can be pretty sure he was betting on games as a player as well. I’ve heard the stories about him being on the clubhouse phone shortly before he stepped on the field, and it doesn’t take The Amazing Kreskin to figure out who he might be calling.
Five years ago the Phillies decided to add Pete to their “Wall of Fame,” but not long before the ceremony a woman accused him of having an affair with her when she was 14 and Pete was 32. Wisely, this time, the Phillies decided to postpone that ceremony to a later date, and that date has yet to arrive.
HOWEVER, that didn’t keep Rose from arriving Sunday and one of the things he was asked was about that case. Pete could have politely sidestepped the question but that’s not his style. Instead he said this to the female reporter who asked the question, “No, I’m not here to talk about that. Sorry about that. It was 55 years ago, babe.”
He’ll never learn, will he? Rose, the all-time hits leader, is not in the Hall of Fame because of his gambling, but even at 81 years old he can’t avoid controversy because he constantly puts his foot in his mouth. He said some other stuff during his weekend trip to Philadelphia that had people cringing, and in hindsight it was probably a bad idea to invite him to the reunion despite what he meant to that team on the field.
I’ve always been of the opinion that Rose deserves to be in the Hall of Fame because he was a great baseball player, and it’s not the Hall of Nice People. Ty Cobb was a known bigot who was hated by just about everyone in his day, but he was a great hitter. Other great players had their flaws, but I think you can appreciate the player without liking the person, and the Baseball Hall of Fame is to recognize great players.
HOWEVER, listening to a radio show on Monday I heard something interesting in that regard. If Pete would actually make the Hall of Fame tradition has the player making an acceptance speech, and can you just imagine what he might say? It was suggested that if he ever went into the Hall most likely it would be posthumously, and when’s the last time you heard someone should be put in a Hall of Fame posthumously when they were still alive?
Only a Rose, I give you.