On Michael Phelps and Lawrence Taylor


We have a very interesting relationship with our athletes in this country… We tend to expect a lot. The Media expects a lot. Lazy parents expect a lot. Everyone wants to hold everyone to standards that no one could possibly keep. Would there be this outrage were it Kid Rock or a guy from My Chemical Romance? No.

Phelps is in a complex situation, granted. He is a star. He is in the record books as an historic Olympian and he is also college age. And doing something that young people ALL OVER THE WORLD do. All the time. Someone is doing it right now as you read this. And do you know what? It’s not your right to regulate their behavior unless they are endangering someone else. How does that diminish all the hard work he put in to train for this? If you put in the effort, you’ll reap the rewards; that cliche’ is almost always true. This should take away nothing from what Phelps accomplished in the pool.

You see, “the grown up”s have been caught in their own lie, Generation Peep has exposed it all… There is no mythology anymore, we have instant access to information on our blackberry cell phones and we can snap pictures with them and instantly upload them to facebook/myspace.com. You can’t present to us that bullcrap image of Johnny clean cut and paint him as successful then put it in a pamphlet next to stan the stoner, the loser that smokes pot, never has a job and “freaks out” and beats his wife. The idea of a Man, a wife with 2.5 children and a white picket fence was never really that realistic, but now we have the access to information and the where-withall to know that it is and was a crock. It was marketing. It was propaganda in a cold war climate. The fantasy of clear cut lines between lifestyles are done my friend, the truth is out and its a big grey mess. There are some unsucessful, clean cut people. There are quite a few unsuccessful drug users; there are some not very clean cut people that have done things that put them in the record books and committed them to history and not just athletes; painters, poets, writers, architects and the like. There are those that have done it all and were a saint doing it. Then there is most of us : somewhere in between on the middle of the scale.


We are organic, humans in a tapestry of humans who are now surrounding ourselves in our own monster, the miracle/scourge  of technology and cameras that belong to our own kind and cameras that belong to ‘big brother’ or “the Man”.

Indeed, we are in a world of incredible technology and unending possibility.

Lawrence Taylor was the most dominant Linebacker of his generation in the NFL. He was also a crackhead and single handedly affected the policy of the NFL on drug use. He also single handedly changed the way an NFL offense works. People make that stupid argument all the time too, “OH, what if he hadn’t done drugs, imagine how great he would have been”. Well guess what McCheese, he was one of the greatest. And he did crack. I’m sorry and he’s sorry too. They hid it, this was still the era where you could paint a picture; They idealized the NFL as this bastion of family men that played a sport that everybody loved. There were no camera phones to expose him in that day, there were no digital cameras and Wifi. 

Well guess what? With pervading media and cameras everywhere and RSS news feeds that deliver instantanious information and opinion (like what you’re reading right now), we know different. We know that the NFL takes its toll on you. We know that to be a head coach is to all but abandon your family because of the hours it takes to win. Ask Andy Reid. Ask Tony Dungy.

Let’s take Charles Rodgers, Ricky Williams and Lawrence Taylor as examples. One was a waste of a draft pick, one was one of the best ever on the field and literally defined how defenses and offenses are set up with his dominant play and one is kind of in the middle.

There are things about the sport that we love that are very unlovable. Right now Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have been caught “cheating”.

And yet, more grey. They did steroids to push their bodies beyond natural limits, with this the cost is shortening their life span and wrecking their body as it ages. Cheating or a sacrifice for greatness? I don’t know. I can honestly say that, I DON’T KNOW. I go to ball games and I love them. I love baseball and summer and Comerica Park (our new Tiger Stadium). I love watching the Detroit Sky Line (one of the fews times it doesn’t look like the dump that it is) and just watching my Tigers knock out a few dingers and hope that Curtis Granderson can make a big defensive play so my home team wins. I don’t know if it’s my place to judge, especially since the Mitchell Report found *A LOT* of players doing the ‘roids. *A LOT*. Let’s face it, the McGwire and Sosa Home run chase for history saved baseball. And it was “dirty”. But we loved it then, didn’t we? It got me watching the game again. It’s a spectator sport for all but few. 

Life is one big grey area. It about choices and consequences. I think the scrutiny on Phelps is beyond stupid, but I also feel that he should have understood that there are consequences to doing bong rips at a frat party when you’re famous and everyone has a camera on their phone. Micheal needs to understand that this is generation peep and nothing that happens is even a little isolated. The shocking thing is that it took this long to get out!

There are consequences in our society, fair or not and in Micheal Phelps case it’s losing lots of money in advertising endorsements because people think you’re a bad person if you do that and the South Carolina Police trying to put him in jail because Marijuana is illegal. (Save why the beer companies made it illegal 50 years ago to eliminate competition for another post) And they want money. Because they know he has deep pockets and they want to build a fountain in front of the court house and drive escalade cop trucks. (that’s also for another post). 

Thank you for sticking with me on this 1100 word odyssey, I’m sorry it’s not Lion-centric, but this is about football and other sports that I love (not swimming, LOL.) This news story is just everywhere and I don’t think the over 40 crowd really understands that society has changed and this generation is different. They think we’re stupid and lazy, but perhaps we just see more clearly.