Two-Minute Warning: Jamal Drops The Ball

By Lamont Germany
Updated: October 16, 2004

Jamal Lewis

BALTIMORE, MD.—Yes Jamal Lewis screwed up.

Baltimore Ravens Tailback Jamal Lewis joins a long list of athletes who have had problems with the law.

It’s a long list. It’s a lengthy litany of some of the more prominent names sports. They are all athletes who have made some downright dumb decisions off the field.

Jamal has plenty of company.

The hit list includes, but is not limited to; Mike Tyson, Allen Iverson, Ray Lewis, Jayson William, Kirby Puckett, Daryl Strawberry, Pete Rose, Dwight Gooden, Bruce Smith, Mark Chmura, Jim Brown, O.J. Simpson…And on… And on… And on…

Lewis has admitted to helping broker a drug deal four years ago. He’ll pay the price by being suspended from two NFL games, and he’ll spend several months in the big house.

Sorry, but this won’t be a commentary about what bad boys Jamal and the others have been. That’s too easy. No, this isn’t about how those athletes have all let our young people down. I think that commentary’s been done. This instead is about how gullible many of us can be when it comes to elevating athletes to underserved social pedestals based upon nothing more than their athletic prowess.

The ability to run up and down a football field and score touchdowns doesn’t exempt you from stupidity. Making lots of money doesn’t exclude anyone from dumb decision making.

Nonetheless, many us profess profound disbelief whenever a prominent athlete does something stupid.

Not me. I’m not surprised at all. I’m just surprised that anyone is surprised.

Sports fans have to shoulder part of the blame, but we media folks are the main culprits. We can’t wait to salivate and wax philosophical over the unending virtues of the “Superstar of the Moment.” We can’t wait to tell you about the next athlete who is the fastest, the strongest, the greatest this and the greatest that…. And heaven help them if their not perfect people, because we can’t wait to tell you about their imperfections either.

Be careful around us sports media folk. You might have noticed there are times when we tend toward exaggeration.

We specialize in hyperbole.

Sometimes I believe that exposure to the sports media should come with a warning label. Maybe something like this.

Warning!!! The next time one of us in the sports media inundates you with how wonderful, adorable, caring, giving, understanding, gracious, kind, all knowing, all seeing, all-mighty and all-powerful the next “Superstar of the Moment” is, please forgive us. We get a little carried away with our praise sometimes. Outside of Jesus and Mother Teresa very few folks are actually that good, regardless of how sweet their jump shot may be.

Warning!!! The next time one of us in the media inundates you with how greedy, selfish, lazy, spoiled, ignorant, conceited, mean, nasty, wicked, cruel, spiteful, appalling, horrific, and evil the next “Superstar of the Moment” is, please forgive us. We get a little carried away with our criticism sometime. Outside of Satan and Charles Mason very few folks are actually that bad, regardless of how sweet their jump shot may be.

It should be no surprise that once in a while a great athlete screws up. We all screw up. Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs, Butcher, Bakers, Candlestick Makers & even Sports Columnists’ screw up. When a high profile athlete screws up his foibles are front-page news. However, when Leon the delivery boy for Fed-Ex screws up, nobody cares.

And so it is with Jamal Lewis. Four years ago, as a 21 year old he did something extremely dumb, destructive and illegal. I believe he has to step up and deal with the consequences of his actions. Lewis is clearly not a Choirboy, but I don’t believe he’s Public Enemy Number One either. He joins multitudes of other 21 year olds who have engaged in ill-advised or illegal behavior.

I don’t think we have to worry about what we are going to tell our children when Jamal or any other athlete does something illegal, immoral or just stupid. I think it’s simple. We tell our children that choices come with consequences. If you make poor choices, you may have to reap some tough consequences.

Jamal Lewis made a horrible decision, and now he has to deal with the consequences.

Let me go way out on a limb and predict that Jamal Lewis will not be the last athlete to run afoul of the law. Athletes are like the rest of us, only richer. They screw up sometimes. It’s happened before, and it will happen again, and again, and again.

Hey folks, Stuff happens. Even to starting tailbacks in the NFL.

I’m Lamont Germany

That’s your Two-Minute Warning