I was just emerging from a weekend of degenerate gambling when the news broke – Aldon Smith had been arrested for a DUI. My phone started buzzing shortly after the news broke on Twitter, and on the way home from Reno I did a little reading up on the story. It wasn’t pretty for the 49ers’ first year D-end – He was seen swerving all over the road and blew twice the legal limit when police brought him in. Less than two weeks later I was on my break at work and, yep, more bad news – Ray McDonald arrested for an outstanding warrant. It turns out that McDonald’s arrest may have been a misunderstanding involving some misfiled paperwork, but it still stemmed from – you guessed it – suspicion of a DUI in 2010.
So I got to wondering – with all of my rabid fanaticism regarding the 49ers, why was I so indifferent about finding out that half of the 49ers defensive line was getting put in handcuffs? Shouldn’t I be outraged? Shouldn’t I be either crying foul on authorities or calling into sports talk radio stations to rip these guys? Why did I merely shrug this news off? It stands to reason that I (as both a sports fan and a member of modern American society) am completely desensitized to athletes, celebrities, and legal trouble.
I could even take it a step further and include “buffoonery” in my desensitization. The days of athletes modestly handing a referee the ball after scoring a touchdown are long gone. In fact some of my earliest memories as a sports fan include a certain ex-49ers wide receiver sprinting to the 50 yard line of Cowboys stadium and, well, you get the picture.
We are experiencing an era of flashy-get your popcorn ready-look at me now superstars. They’re getting paid more than ever, they’re getting pub’ more than ever and they’re acting a fool.
It came as no surprise that Rob Gronkowski was caught going all Jersey Shore by camera phones following the Super Bowl. This just happens to be the lifestyle for 22-year-olds all over America, star athletes or not. Whether he won the Super Bowl or lost it, Gronk was going to party, god dammit. After all, it’s not like he’s the first athlete to ever go to a club and do something stupid – just ask Plaxico Burriss.
And then you have the matter of Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain pulling a gun on someone while back in his hometown - for his Grandfather's funeral. Of course! As long as you're back in your old haunt, you might as well settle some unfinished business. Coach Jackson will never find out!
I feel like I’m the frog sitting in a pot of slowly boiling water – less and less of this stuff surprises me anymore. There are certain “character” guys that I would be shocked to see get wrapped up with the law or do something outlandish. People like Patrick Willis, Matt Cain, Alex Smith or Steph Curry all stick out as upstanding citizens. We know about their character; however the character of most athletes goes unnoticed, unless of course we find out that they’ve gotten into legal trouble.
I have become numb to the idiotic actions of these dudes – I’ve even come to justify them. I caught myself thinking this while driving home today:
“If you’re Aldon, of course you’re going to drive to the club. You just got paid, you’ve probably got a nice car - you can’t show up on the town in a Taxi!”
Whether or not that was the reason behind the DUI is completely speculative, but it goes to show the mind state of the modern celebrity – stay lookin’ good until what you’ve done makes you look bad.
The next time an athlete gets caught drunk driving or hustling drugs I have an inkling I’ll be ready for it. When I see it on Twitter, I’ll probably just shrug. When it’s mention on SportsCenter, I’ll return to my bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch completely un-phased. This is the attitude that I’ve decided to take with the athletes that I watch – nothing that they do can shock me anymore. After all, I might as well prepare myself, because the next athlete that decides to accidentally shoot himself will NOT take me by surprise.