Forget Barry Bonds. What about Junior Seau?
The big debate in sports this week has been about the Baseball Writers of America not electing anyone to the Baseball Hall of Fame. That, of course, meant that they snubbed the man who hit more home runs than any human and a pitcher who put up ridiculously inhuman numbers for a ridiculous amount of time.
Suspicion of steroid use kept Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens out, not to mention 600-home run man Sammy Sosa and 500-homer man Rafael Pamiero, and will most likely keep them out for at least the foreseeable future.
That sparked a hemisphere-wide debate about whether or not suspected steroid use should disqualify a player from the Hall of Fame.
While that debate was going on, the National Institutes of Health released the results of a study showing that Seau, who played linebacker in the NFL for 20 years and later committed suicide, suffered from a degenerative brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
CTE is caused by repeated blows to the head.
Did Seau use performance-enhancing drugs? I don’t know. I do feel pretty safe in assuming that he received a lot of blows to the head from players who did.
The NFL deals every day with trying to prevent concussions. Rules are changed. Players are fined and suspended. The same writers and commentators who will debate the effect of steroids on how far a player can hit a baseball for hours, will ignore the obvious signs they see every day in an NFL locker room.
The ridiculously large baseball players distorted some sacred records. So what?
Ridiculously large football players mean more violent collisions, and more violent collisions mean more head injuries.
When was the last time you heard or read a comment from an NFL official suggesting that injuries could be reduced if the league would get serious about shrinking players through stricter testing and harsher penalties? When was the last time an NFL official was pressed on the issue?
If the sports media spent 1/10th of the time focusing on the ridiculous size of football players that it spends on worrying about whether a likeness of Barry Bonds’ oversized head should be carved on to a plaque in Cooperstown, maybe we wouldn’t be spending so much time talking about ridiculous suggestions like eliminating the kickoff.
• ESPN apologized for the wrong guy. It issued an apology after Monday Night’s Alabama-Notre Dame Mythical National Championship game, saying that play-by-play announcer Brent Musberger went overboard in reacting to the beauty of Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron’s girlfriend.
The apology should have been made for the director who kept calling for closeups of her in the stands. The play-by-play guy is supposed to comment on what he sees on the monitor. After the 37th time, Musberger got a little carried away. Get over it.
• Sometime in the near future ESPN is going to set a slobberfest record.
Ray Lewis is about to take a job there.
Lewis has come a long way since he was charged in a double murder in Atlanta in 2000. If you didn’t know any better, you would think that the game announcers were talking about St. Francis of Assisi every time his mug shows up on the screen.
The two people who were murdered that night haven’t come a long way. They’re still dead.
Maybe the guys at The Worldwide Leader should call Priscilla Lollar in Akron, Ohio, before they do their inevitable slobbering. Her son, Richard, was one of the two guys murdered that night. Lewis copped a plea to obstruction of justice in exchange for testimony against his two buddies, whom he didn’t see do anything that night.
His buddies walked, and the case has never been solved.
When USA Today contacted Lewis recently to ask him about the incident, he said, “You want to talk to me about something that happened 13 years ago right now?”
This stupid murder thing has become annoying for Lewis.
It’s making it hard for him to re-make himself.
Richard Lollar’s aunt, Cindy Lollar-Owens, told USA Today that, with all the talk about Lewis’ retirement, she decided to visit the funeral home, “Because that’s where my nephew retired.”
In 2017, Lewis will be inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, just down the road from where Richard Lollar lived and is buried.
Talk about a slobberfest.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who knows a little bit about crime and punishment, will probably be there. He’s a big Lewis fan. He called Lewis a “tremendous voice of reason,” and said he’d like to hire him as a special adviser.
Let’s just hope that nobody ruins Lewis’ big day by being impolite enough to ask about the two dead guys.
John Steigerwald writes a Sunday column for the Observer-Reporter. His website is justwatchthegame.com.