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Volume 68, Issue 45, Monday, October 28, 2002

Opinion
 

NFL needs to target real crimes

Richard Whitrock
Opinion Columnist 

The world of professional sports has long been the subject of a love-hate relationship. The dynamic of this particular relationship but that is not to say it's useless to weigh in on the subject.

Like it or not, professional athletes always have been and always will be role models. They may not ask for it, but they don't really have a choice. Politicians can't make rabid journalists stay away from their families, and the athletically gifted can't avoid being admired.

The sooner professional athletes can come to terms with this fact, the better. 

Many athletes hide behind the "I didn't ask for it" or "I never said I was a role model" bit, and some of them actually believe that makes a difference.

National sporting news has been blanketed recently with Terrell Owens' latest touchdown celebration, in which immediately after scoring, he took out a pen, signed the ball and gave it to his financial advisor. The league seems to think this qualifies as "excessive."

Understandably, many people are upset about it. 

Let's be clear here: His actions don't exactly perpetuate sportsmanship for those who hold athletes as role models. 

Mr. Owens deserves some kind of punishment for it, no question.

However, this situation has highlighted the hate portion of my love-hate relationship for professional sports, and not in the way that one might guess.

It is the opinion of this columnist that Owens has been treated unfairly and the league has made a big mistake.

Press coverage of the event has rivaled and surpassed every newsworthy event in sports in recent memory. 

With the amount of press covering the incident, one might confuse Owens with being more important than the pending war with Iraq. 

The knee-jerk reaction for every sports writer and league representative to put in one's own two cents was severe enough you would think Owens had just killed someone.

As I said, that kind of excessive celebration isn't acceptable, but the NFL has much more serious problems facing it.

Comparing Owens to the likes of Randy Moss and most every Dallas Cowboy is like comparing a little boy playing with matches to bin Laden with a nuke. 

Yet, Owens' excessive celebration gets more coverage than Moss' trying to run over a traffic agent and the Cowboys' snorting everything in sight while beating everything in a skirt.

Owens may have crossed the line, but let's practice a little perspective here. 

Owens gets happy and shows off; Moss tries to flatten an officer for attempting to stop him from doing something illegal. Does anyone else notice a small discrepancy here?

Moss has repeatedly admitted he doesn't play his best every time he goes out. Not to say that athletes don't deserve to be paid, but I just want to remind them that they are being paid more than the gross domestic product of some small countries to play a game. 

They owe it to the rest of the world to at least play their hardest. 

Owens may not be the best role model, but at least he plays every game and appreciates his gifts.

Quite frankly, as long as the worst Owens does is get a little too happy over scoring, the league should leave him alone until they plan to do something about the real villains of the league. 

If Moss can try to run over an agent of the law and still be allowed to play (if he decides to), then I don't think the league has the right to get upset over a little excessive celebration.

Whitrock, a sophomore architecture major, 
can be reached at rick_whitrock@hotmail.com

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