Bryant is a good guy, but what does that mean?

With that said, I want to flash back to 1993. A very immature and athletically gifted 17-year-old named Allen Iverson is convicted of maiming by mob. He is tried as an adult and sentenced to five years in prison, but only serves four months. The conviction was later overturned, but the embarrassment remains. A drunk driving incident, a possession of marijuana charge, a gun charge and a domestic assault charge followed over the next ten years, and Iverson stands in a basketball arena near you as the 21st century version of Dennis Rodman, the NBA’s “bad boy” of basketball.

Remember Darryl Strawberry? Not only was he one of the best home run hitters of the 1980s, but he was (and perhaps still is) a cocaine addict. He has been in and out of jail numerous times and his own son changed his name to “D.J.” in order to avoid embarrassing comparisons to his drug-addicted father. Strawberry is considered a black sheep of Major League Baseball; a terrible story of trials and tragedy overshadows his athletic triumphs. What a failure and a waste of talent.

Now let’s think about these two men for a second. Allen Iverson’s most severe crimes were committed as a teenager. That shouldn’t be an excuse, but it is. Who did Darryl Strawberry hurt by using drugs and ruining his career? Maybe they also hurt a few family members and a couple of friends, but basically these men hurt themselves. How in God’s name then, can we place Kobe Bryant on a larger-than-life, perfect gentleman pedestal? Kobe Bryant, whether he raped a 19-year-old girl or not, hurt another human being, a college student. I know, I know, maybe he’s innocent. And without evidence, it’s hard to convict Bryant, but without evidence, it’s hard to charge Kobe Bryant. Get real, people!

Often, men are revered for having sex with women, and maybe some women enjoy the glory of the conquest of a pro-athlete, but when consent is in question, all rules are thrown out the window. Wilt Chamberlain had sex with 20,000 women, but even after his death, how many of those women have come forward accusing Chamberlain of rape?

Kobe Bryant crossed the line. Rape is not a petty crime like marijuana or gun possession. Rape is a serious offense as well as a serious accusation. One of the worst things about this whole ordeal is Bryant’s fan support. Fans are flocking to his side, creating Free Kobe websites and sending death threats to his accuser. If Kobe is let off with a wrist slap, children in five years will still walk around with Kobe Bryant jerseys. He will have five more NBA Championship rings, be considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time and a national hero. This rape charge will be long forgotten in five years.

If Allen Iverson wins those same five NBA Championships, he will still be looked at as a rebel, an outlaw and a criminal. His past will always haunt him. Where is the justice? How did our sense of role models and heroes become so warped? When a “bad boy” such as Allen Iverson breaks a law, he is a terrible human being. When a “good person” such as Kobe Bryant breaks a law, he is given sympathy. It doesn’t matter to me whether Kobe Bryant is acquitted or convicted. I will never look up to him and will never respect him.

Someone call a Lawyer

Someone call a Lawyer

The National Football League is the only major professional sports league that has kept free agency under control. We don’t see nearly as many football players bolting their team for free agency and a maximum contract as athletes in other sports do. Because of this, the NFL is (supposedly) in the best financial shape of the professional sports leagues. The NFL’s revenue sharing allows teams in small markets to compete with teams in big markets, something baseball has yet to figure out.

With that said, however, I must bring up a very touchy subject in New England. Last week, only a few days before the opening to the regular season, the New England Patriots released Pro-Bowl safety Lawyer Milloy, along with his $35 million contract. Milloy, a six-and-a-half year starter for the Patriots, was the anchor of their Super Bowl Championship defense in 2001 and is considered one of the top safeties in the game. The Patriots attributed his release to his unwillingness to restructure his contract.

So the Patriots gave Milloy his outright release. No big deal, right? Wrong. Two days later, the Patriots’ division rival (and week one opponent) Buffalo Bills signed Milloy to a multi-year deal.

A few days before the season started, the Bills’ defense was studying tapes of the Patriots, with the Patriots’ best defensive back giving them tips and strategy. It’s not like the Patriots had the time to revamp their entire offense or defense in a few days time. So basically, Milloy probably knew every play and every alignment the Patriots would and could run. I don’t blame Milloy for his actions. I blame the Patriots for their stupidity and stinginess.

If the Bills hadn’t destroyed the Patriots 31-0, maybe this wouldn’t bother me so much, but the fact is, the Bills looked like they knew what play the Patriots were running before Tom Brady even hiked the football. Shouldn’t there be some sort of rule against this sort of action? Granted, it’s the Patriots own fault for releasing Milloy, but without some sort of rule prohibiting a player from using his knowledge of another team’s system, it may become common practice for teams to desperately seek out their opponent’s scraps. What a concept. Sports, like politics, has no need for spies and traitors.