Athletes behaving badly: December 1st edition

Latrell Sprewell was selected with the 24th overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors.  He enjoyed a fairly successful career, averaged 18.3 points per game and was named to the NBA All-Star Team on four separate occasions.

Unfortunately, Sprewell’s physical attributes and his talent were largely overshadowed by his propensity for being a bonehead.  He is now best known for his propensity for violence and his run-ins with the law.  He has also been identified as Wisconsin’s most delinquent taxpayer and owes the government over $3.5 million.

Sprewell will always be known as the dope who assaulted his coach, P.J. Carlesimo.  As y’all may recall, during a routine practice, Sprewell threatened to kill and choked Carlesimo.  His teammates intervened and Sprewell left the floor, but later returned and punched his coach.  The NBA All-Star was ultimately suspended for the remaining sixty-eight games of the regular season.

The assault occurred on December 1, 1997.  Thursday was its fourteenth anniversary.

Frankly, I can’t think of a better way to honor the anniversary of one of the more memorable displays of violence by a professional athlete than with another alleged display of violence by a professional athlete.  Light the candles, get out the cake, and wake up the D.J.  It’s time for a celebration.

On the fourteenth anniversary of Sprewell’s infamous assault, the media reported that Rolando McLain was arrested for third-degree assault, menacing, reckless endangerment and discharging a firearm in city limits.  McLain won numerous collegiate awards, was the 8th overall pick of the 2010 NFL draft and is now a starting linebacker for the Oakland Raiders.  His arrest allegedly involved an ambush of a victim and the discharge of a firearm near the victims head as the man pleaded for his life.  Although he survived the incident, the victim claims that the battery left him with a concussion, a broken nose and broken ribs.

This is the point where many authors would take the opportunity to characterize McLain, other the Oakland Raiders and their fans as a collection of thugs, delinquents, villains, goons, trouble-makers and evil-doers.  This is, after all, a fairly common sentiment among sports fans and the media, and I don’t think anyone would have much trouble tossing out a joke or two within this context.

I’m not going to succumb to the opportunity, however, simply because any further discussion would divert attention from a gang of professional athletes that appears to be operating a fairly sophisticated scheme to steal money from an NFL franchise.  This gang of hooligans has apparently plotted to charge the franchise lucrative amounts of money for services that have not been and are not been performed.  The artifice is now playing out before a national audience.

That’s right, folks.  Just about every professional athlete who takes the field for the Philadelphia Eagles is essentially stealing their paycheck.

Look, this team deserves the criticism.  It spent the abbreviated offseason signing high profile athletes to lucrative contracts, its current ringleader proclaimed that the franchise was fielding a “dream team,” and a number of talking heads picked the team as the favorite to win the league’s championship.

Instead of soaring, the eagles have crashed.  Hard.

And now they’ve contributed to the infamy of events that have occurred on December 1st by again essentially stealing money.  This time, they were paid to be steamrolled by the Seattle-freakin’-Seahawks on Thursday Night Football and their overall record fell to 4-7 record.  Their quarterback – the ringleader who previously tossed out the term “dream team” – spent his evening tossing passes to the other team.  The loss mathematically eliminated the team from playoff contention and firmly ended the possibility of a league championship.

No worries, though.  Dreams may have turned into nightmares, but the paychecks will still cash.  And I’ll probably spend my time tuning in to Court TV or MSNBC’s Lockup instead of sporting events… at least on December 1st, 2012.

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