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The Untouchables

"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles CEO, The Sports Network

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -- They are the athletes that we hold in the highest esteem, the ones whose talents and income derivatives from those very gifts and abilities that we envy, and the luminaries on the field of athletic competition that, yes, should be held to higher standards of integrity, morality and basic decency. The fact of the matter, however, is that they disdain the public adoration, the very endorsements that add to their already overflowing vaults and the fans whose unending flow of passage through the turnstiles of the stadiums where they display their wares keeps them in such riches.

Where does it start? More importantly, where does it end? Would you believe that this horizon has no finality in sight?

Sebastian Janikowski
Sebastian Janikowski's success on the field has been overshadowed by his problems off the field.
Sebastian Janikowski of the Oakland Raiders was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving. Speeding in a 2001 Mercedes and failing a sobriety test. Did you expect him to be in a Hyundai or VW? Oh, by the way, how do you feel about seven other traffic offenses before this one? In April of 2001 he was acquitted of drug possession and evidence tampering after being charged with pouring a cap of GHB, the so-called rape drug, onto the floor of the car. Run the film back to June of 2000 and he was acquitted of offering a police officer $300 to release his roommate after an argument with a bouncer at a nightclub.

They believe that they are impervious to all that the rest of us face and that there is a somewhat impenetrable wall around them concerning their actions. And, the leagues have endorsed that with less than serious consequences. They would probably suspend a player for a game if he is charged with murder. If he is acquitted, they would make him the MVP and double his income. If he abuses his wife, they call it a family squabble and refuse to comment on it. Have a group of them engage in the use of marijuana and the sport, team owner in this case, responds by saying, "Boys will be boys."

While they are being photographed and fingerprinted they are asking the arresting officers if they want autographed copies accompanied by tickets to Sunday's game.

New York Knicks' forward Kurt Thomas missed the opening day of training camp because he was arrested for assaulting his wife. If he assaulted the opposing players with as much fervor, his team might make the playoffs more often.

Allen Iverson tossed his wife out of their home stark naked, somehow managed to get rid of the gun that the world believes he and his uncle, Gregory, had when he went looking for her and the media overflows with coverage and interviews shouting, "Prejudice, poor kid, misunderstood family squabble" and "So what?" The team whose uniform he wears, the Philadelphia Seventy-Sixers, know better but this is their franchise player, out of control again. They read from the usual and retreat. Did anyone ever really believe that the prosecution eyewitnesses would hold up? They made Napoleon's retreat from the outskirts of Moscow look like an exercise in slow motion. When he takes the court for his first game this year he is guaranteed a standing ovation. Role model for our ghetto youth?with a short message - score points and get a Bentley, mansion and free pass to life.

Darryl Strawberry
Darryl Strawberry is one of the few athletes that reached the point of no return.
Darryl Strawberry went over the edge after repeated attempts to keep him in the game he played so well, with apologies followed by various forms of reinstatement more often than the Mets fail and the Yankees succeed. He self-destructed and was one of the few that reached the point of no return.

Cleveland Cavaliers player, Zyndrunas Ilgauskas, arrested on a charge of driving under the influence of guess what? They will probably let him go because it is too tough to put his name on a rap sheet and remember it in the future.

Glenn Robinson of the Milwaukee Bucks was arrested recently and charged with domestic battery, assault and illegal possession of a firearm. Is it because they are so much larger than their female counterparts that they get off abusing them? Mainstream America does this and they are tossed in the local jail, taken to task, tried and usually committed, fined heavily and read the riot act. The Robinsons of the world are protected by their teams, owners and the office of the NBA, all of whom figured out, long ago, that a bruised and battered wife or girl friend is little enough price to pay for television rights and sold out super boxes.

Chris Webber of the Sacramento Kings pled innocent to lying before a grand jury while at the University of Michigan, as well as to obstructing justice. Las Vegas has made him a 9-5 favorite to walk away without so much as a slap on the wrist.

Minnesota Vikings all-everything wide receiver, Randy Moss, was jailed and charged with two misdemeanors, and is already in the NFL's substance abuse program after testing positive for marijuana last season (wow, what a penalty!), yet network announcers actually defend him and claim that the media rushed to judgment. Let me understand this, he forces his car into a school crossing guard, scares the hell out of her, could have inflicted great bodily harm and he is the victim?!?!? Welcome to the world of the NFL.

Brian Mitchell of the Philadelphia Eagles, with a Super Bowl berth planned this year (we will see), was sued along with team officials for assault on a female police officer that claims he did this while they were on a date last September. It had to be the uniform and it has been swept under the carpet like so many errant ashes.

Albert Belle is out of the baseball limelight, but not out of the media one as he was arrested for DUI and other charges recently. Hey, it is a carryover.

The NY Mets celebrate a losing season that was a disaster by turning to Marijuana use, and the best that the Mets can do is downplay it and indicate that it is not widespread among the team. OK, just seven members did this. Not enough for a quorum.

Bobby Nystrom is out of a New York Islander uniform but he is still swinging, as proven when he was charged with punching two gas station attendants in an altercation this past August.

Fernando Vargas and Oscar De La Hoya
Fernando Vargas (right) was accused of steroid use after his bout with Oscar De La Hoya.
Boxer Fernando Vargas has been accused by the Nevada Athletic Commission of having steroids in his system when he lost to Oscar De La Hoya on September 14th.

There is no immunity by sport, race, and gender - just from prosecution and serious penalties. Leagues such as the NBA even have rules and clauses that indicate what action will be taken by them if a player is accused and/or convicted of various transgressions, misdemeanors or greater, right up to felonies. None that we know of, short of conviction for murder or blatant drug use, result in anything more than a fine or possibly a game or two suspension. Be still, my beating heart!

They are adored, venerated and glorified. Instead of graven images, we have bobble head dolls to adorn our shelves, mantles and desks. We praise and exalt them, magnify their talents and put them on pedestals that are really made of clay. All the while, they love it, advantage it, believe that they are insulated from the rules that mere mortals, such as ourselves, have to follow and there is no end in sight to their predictable defiance and disregard for the parameters to which the rest of us are asked to adhere.

They are, after all, untouchables. Is that ever going to change? You gotta be kidding!