While I don’t normally care about or comment on athletics, there is something to consider in all this debate — it’s the role of role models.
Let’s first stipulate that professional, and some college, athletes are role models. If you don’t agree with that, you can stop; right here.
All this discussion about who is a better player and more deserving of reinstatement or honors might bake a good debate if we weren’t talking about something far more basic and important. No matter what the transgression or degree of the transgression, what we’re discussing is cheating, honesty. And integrity — of the person, of the game and, ultimately, of how we see society, role models and leaders in society.
Did Tom Brady cheat? Does Brady create the perception of cheating? What perception does Brady create when he refuses to participate in the investigation buy not making his cell phone records or texts available? By “lawyering up?” And, what do we make of the Patriot’s organization when it circles the wagons on this and other past possible cheating? What about Rose? Did he break the rules? Did his rule-breaking cast doubts about his integrity and the integrity of the game?
I am a firm believer in redemption, second chances and even, sometimes, third chances. But I also believe that the root of many of today’s problems lie in the lack of honesty and integrity. Not holding these role models accountable, and not holding other role models accountable, for clear cases of dishonesty sends the wrong message to everyone: If you can get away with it, try to do so; and if you get caught, deny it, fight it and don’t be accountable for it.
My opinion, if it matters? In these cases, they broke the rules and accountability must prevail.