Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sports' Three Deadly Sins

Today's athletes have been unfairly characterized as spoiled because they're being paid millions before playing a single pro game. The advent of free agency, starting in baseball in the mid 1970's, has led to this. But it's not entirely the players' fault a large majority of the time.

Late Monday night, the Washington Nationals signed their #1 draft pick Stephen Strasburg to a 4-year contract worth in excess of 15 million dollars. Yes, Strasburg has been hyped to the moon because of his success in the college ranks. History, however, tells us that there have been several pitchers similarly hyped into being drafted #1 overall, most recently Mark Prior, who have run into one roadblock or another, usually injury-related, stunting their major league careers. Prior, in fact, was released a few weeks ago by the San Diego Padres.

The blame for Strasburg's 2 month holdout lies with his agent, Scott Boras, who has a history of conning teams into overpaying for his clients, simply because he never made it to the bigs himself because of a knee injury suffered while playing in the minors in the Padres organization. So he lives vicariously through his clients, reaping the profits from those contracts. Apparently it doesn't matter to him that some of those clients also have become trouble magnets (i.e. A-Rod, Manny). It's all about the money.

Boras first made headlines when he sold JD Drew's parents a bill of goods conning them into thinking that their son shouldn't sign with the Philadelphia Phillies, ultimately signing with the St. Louis Cardinals.

The bottom line is, Boras is a greedy con artist who has the Major League Baseball Players' Association enabling him to continue unabated. He shouldn't.

Earlier today, after informing the Minnesota Vikings he wouldn't sign with them 2 weeks ago, Brett Favre changed his mind and signed a 2-year deal. Apparently, a late season meltdown last year with the New York Jets didn't convince Favre enough that it was time to hang up the cleats once and for all. Favre continues to tarnish his reputation by playing these cat & mouse games during the off-seasons, leaving the fans and the press twisting in the wind. ESPN certainly was obsessed with the story, claiming he was negotiating with Minnesota when other media outlets reported that no such meetings were taking place. Worse, Favre will immediately be thrust into the starting lineup in Friday's pre-season game.

It's not so much about greed with Favre. It's about pride, because he wants to go out a winner, when his last two seasons have ended with defeat, and it's about the spotlight, being one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL, but not the elite QB. Favre's diminishing performances during the 2nd half of 2008 with the Jets convinced me he was done. I'd venture to say that Favre isn't even a top 10 QB anymore, not when you have Tom Brady, the Mannings, Philip Rivers, emerging talents like Joe Flacco & Trent Edwards and incoming QBs Mark Sanchez (who replaces Favre with the Jets) and Matthew Stafford in the league. Favre's agent, James "Bus" Cook, one of the more lower profile agents in the business, is probably shaking his head in disbelief just like the rest of us, even though he's going to get paid anyway.

If the Vikings don't make the playoffs, I'd not be surprised if Brett plays this game of chess again next spring. But how many times is this going to go on until something happens that forces Favre out of the game once and for all, something that he can't control?

Greed, pride, and a need for the spotlight. You've heard of the 7 Deadly Sins? Sports has at least three, if not all of them and then some. In the 80's, First Lady Nancy Reagan tried to convince us to just say no. Wrestler CM Punk has been recast as a villain in the WWE because he is using the same message in a less than sincere manner. However, it's a message that needs to be heard. Now.

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