You will have to forgive me, but I’m pretty much Weiner-ed out right now. I have heard or read just about everything there is to know about Weiner-Man.
So I am predicting that the next big scandal will involve superstar athletes not behaving like superstars.
Consider Rafael Nadal. The 25-year-old Spaniard won a sixth French Open tennis title several days ago, and what does Nadal do? First, he delivers this very gracious, aw-shucks victory speech praising opponent Roger Federer, and he spends the next 45 minutes signing his name on every fuzzy, yellow ball thrust his way and posing for photos with courtside volunteers and, get this, even little adoring kids. Yuck!
We want our superstars to act like superstars and wear menacing black uniforms and to shove aside urchins with Magic Markers. Insolence, arrogance of the Tiger variety, that’s the real breakfast of champions.
As if Nadal were not bad enough, Shaquille O’Neill got all touchy-feely on us, too. Shaq’s retirement offered the ideal opportunity for an hour-long ESPN special with smoke machines and strobe lights in the Lebron mode. But what does Shaq do? He throws his own retirement party in his own 70,000-square-foot home with free lunch for family, friends and — please, my stomach is getting upset here — the news media, for goodness sakes! At one point, when Shaq’s mother pointed out that he seemed nervous, he actually said these words: “I was nervous, Momma, I’m sorry.” So much for the big, bad gangsta superstar image.
Then there’s Steve Stricker, the No. 4 golfer in the world. You expect golfers to be a little wimpy, but this guy cries when he wins. Actually, Stricker spared us the tears last weekend and just kinda choked up when he won the Memorial Tournament, Jack Nicklaus’ tournament, in Dublin, Ohio.
During the round, as he walked from tee to green, he would fist-bump all the young hands extended his way. And then, like Nadal, Stricker stuck around signing autographs. In that period of time, Tiger would have angrily snubbed a reporter who asked him tough questions in the past, ignored some kids looking for his signature and would have been on board the Gulfstream headed for Las Vegas and some much-needed debauchery.
That, my friends, is what a real superstar does.
But even Iron Mike, the baddest superstar of all, has gone soft, especially in the head. Someone apparently told Tyson that he is the next comedic star, based on those inane movies. So now, we’ve got Tyson, in that squeaky baby voice of his, telling infantile jokes and assuring talk-show hosts that his behavior now is nearly normal.
What are we doing, sports fans? Please tell me we’re not going back to an era when players could get banned from baseball just for fixing the World Series. Yes, I concede that the 1919 Chicago Black Sox would be banished even today, but nowadays, all of them would have book deals too and, as a group, their own TV reality show, “The Real Cheats of Cook County.” And we’d all be watching.
Keep biting those ears and fingers, superstars! Roethlisberger, Rodman, Ryan Leaf, role models, all!
And finally, do not even think about asking ME for an autograph. (Yeah, like there’s any chance whatsoever of that happening ...)