by “Christian Dan” Borrello,posted Apr 14 2009 12:32PM
By now you've probably heard the Buffalo Bengals jokes. And by that they don't mean Buffalo State.
Buffalo Bills safety and team captain Donte Whitner became the team's third player to be arrested this offseason after the defensive back was tasered and arrested early Saturday morning for aggravated disorderly conduct and resisting arrest near a Cleveland nightclub.
Sure. Get on your stump and pretend you really, really care. Show us how offended you are.
Many Bills fans are bothered by Whitner's arrest. For now, at least.
Sure, the arrest is troubling. Sadly, though, it's not just the defensive back's behavior that bothers fans. It's the fact that Whitner is Buffalo's third player this year fitted for handcuffs instead of rings, COMBINED with the fact they haven't made the playoffs in almost a decade.
Hypocritical? Of course it is. Silly? Absolutely.
But true? Ummm...
This isn't about athletes. It's about fans and how we unfairly compartmentalize on-field vs. off-field antics against our chances to stand on top of the world, as if we even belong there in the first place.
The word "fan" is short for fanatic. It's not far-fetched. We don't get rings and we buy our own championships hats. We celebrate touchdowns like the Apostles rejoicing after the Resurrection. It's not eternal life; it's six points.
Three Bills have been arrested, literally since the Ball Drop. Yet, there was more of an outcry regarding Terrell Owens' acquisition and how it would affect the ballclub, and his offseason training whereabouts than arrests which would mean huge fines and jail time for us regular folks.
Al Davis may have coined the phrase "Just Win Baby," but we all subscribe to it.
Networks pay billions of dollars for pro sports because we pay hundreds, even thousands "for a distraction." Right. For some, real life becomes the distraction for the distraction and even sadly, an inconvenience.
We've all heard the guy complaining in the beer line at the Ralph about how much money a player makes after a turnover before he helps finance said player's lifestyle by handing over another Jackson to pay for four more beers. He's bitter. Bitter that there's no clone in a parallel universe paying $20 for beer to sit and watch him in HIS line of work. For as many lives as doctors and nurses save, nobody pays to watch live surgeries or CPR. Nobody buys tickets to attend trials, or calls the cable companies when C-SPAN goes dark, even though it affects our lives more than a 3rd-and-17. We all want athletes' money, we just don't want athletes to have it, while we complain how self-centered and selfish they are, or that overused adage how nothing good ever happens at 3 o'clock in the morning.
Here's a new adage to chew on: You don't live in their world.
But we all wish we did.
Six days a week during football season, T.O. may be considered by some as a malcontent, but on the seventh day, he's worshiped if he leads Buffalo to victory. People were angry Marshawn Lynch got arrested for illegally carrying a loaded gun. Come September, they'll be more angry he got himself suspended. Once he returns to rush for a hundred yards and score two touchdowns, all will be forgiven. Until what's left of our consience reminds us what he may have done in the games he missed. D'oh!
Who the devil are we kidding? Certainly, not the devil himself. In July, 1997, Bruce Smith was arrested in for D.U.I. and refusing a blood alcohol test. In August, he strode down the tunnel of the then Rich Stadium end zone in street clothes before a Bills-Bears preseason game to a standing ovation from the end zone patrons, who actually paid to see a meaningless game. Jim Kelly had just retired, and with Todd Collins at the helm, Bills fans wanted to let Smith know how much they really needed him this year.
"Yeah, hey Bruce? Hey it's me, Dan, out here in section 117. How are ya? ... Yeah, I'm great! great! Hey, this Collins kid probably won't be the next Jim Kelly. Do you think you could muster a few more sacks this year? Maybe a couple defensive touchdowns?...Yeah, I heard about that whole D.U.I. thing...Just be more careful next time, OK?...Yeah...Yeah, we don't want you getting into any accidents. You could get hurt, y'know?...(Our defense will be screwed)... Well, as long as you know better... Yeah, I forgive you. No worries... Thanks Bruce! Go get 'em! We still love you!!!"
Four Super Bowl appearances and a Hall-of-Fame career buys that type of quick forgiveness.
This isn't about condoning or ridiculing athletes when we question their actions. It's about realizing when we sound silly. Example: the NBA is considered a thug league. The NFL-- "America's New Pastime." Why? Football brings Las Vegas into our living rooms.
Sound silly now? Check back in another year when Michael Vick is available to see how many Bills fans overlook his little dog fighting ring if Trent Edwards follows the Collins lineage instead of becoming Kelly's longawaited heir.
When you stop renewing your season tickets because of an arrest instead of another 7-9 season, maybe all that talk about "today's athletes" will finally not sound so ludicrous. Nah. It's more fun the other way.
In all seriousness, nobody wants to read or hear about a player getting arrested, or have to explain it to their kids. Duh. But a little consistency with our forgiveness and disappointment might make us a little more credible, even to those same little eyes who believe in Santa.
Speaking of Santa, hopefully he'll bring Alex Rodriguez back to the Yankees soon. I mean, I forgive him.
What? I don't have any kids...