Media, Sports

The Critic’s Nemesis: Elite Athletic Ability

Elite Athletes- Cut it out

Remember When Michael Vick killed a bunch of dogs? I don’t, and neither does America!

In the wake of all of this Vick madness, Cosby Sweaters began reflecting on similar situations that have transpired in recent years. Situations where professional athletes were at an all time image low (being their own doing or not) in their career, and solely based on their athletic abilities, played their way back into the extreme praise of fans and the media.

5. A-RodA-rod CS On Feb. 9th of 2009, Alex Rodriguez admitted to taking PED’s during a three year span while playing for the Texas Rangers. On top of being generally disliked by the majority of fans, the steroid admissions now gave baseball fans a very legitimate reason to continue the disdain for the pre-madonna. He then continued doing what he had done his whole career: Mashing. Although 2009 wasn’t a typical monster A-Rod regular season, he put together a .286/78/30/100 campaign. It was a great statistical year, but more importantly, it was a seemingly “clean” year. He went on to put up ridiculous numbers in the playoffs to the tune of .365/15/6/18 in 15 games and in turn, played his way to being a “True Yankee” as they won the World Series. When he inevitably surpasses the all-time home run record, I’m fairly certain the whispers of steroids and asterisks will be few and far between.

4. Ray LewisRay Lewis Remember in 2000 when a 24 year old Ray Lewis was being held as a suspect in a double homicide that occurred after a super bowl party in Atlanta? Although there were multiple questions about the validity of the acquittal, lesser chargers were eventually taken and no one actually ever served real time for the above-mentioned murders. Even in his innocence, Ray Ray had been tagged with the unfortunate label of being a “possible murderer’ and his image was tarnished for ever… Until 8 months later of course,  when the 2000 NFL season began and he played his way to a starting spot in the Pro-Bowl, Defensive Player of the Year award, lead the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory and capped it off by earning Super Bowl MVP honors. Since the murder allegations he has solidified himself as one of the best linebackers of all time and actually become one of the faces of leadership in the NFL. A long way from that interrogation room back in Georgia.

3. Ron Artest

There is a very long list of reasons why Ron Artest could be considered one of the worst professional athletes of all time, at being just that… professional. Before his lowest of lows at the Palace in 2004, he was the poster child for odd behavior and run-in’s with the league. Numerous fines and suspensions, some domestic violence issues, fighting with coaches and opponents and asking for time off in the wake of a $7 million/year contract to promote his (horrendous) R&B music. The disgust for this man as a paid professional was flowing at an all time-high. He then proceeded to elevate that level of disgust to unfathomable heights after being the main culprit in the Pacers/Pistons brawl in 04′. He became the ideal case of wasted talent due to lack of brain. After a brief stay (and more outlandish conduct) with the Kings he was then traded to the Rockets where he suddenly became a team player and vocally took a back seat to team leaders Tracy McGrady & Yao Ming. Without the problems off the court, and some consistent production on it, he was now respected as the best defender in the league and played his way to a lucrative signing as a free agent with the Lake Show in 09′. One full year later with no issues, a constant smile, lockdown D, a great game 7 Finals performance and a Championship ring… and Ron Artest was a new man. There is almost this bizarre feeling that it is actually encouraged by the media to take a liking to Ron Ron and support his off the wall, but lovable behavior. He simply played his way from being a joke and a liability, to being a silly, likable teddy bear (that could snap at anytime). You think that would be the case if he got signed by the Wizards instead of the Lakers?

2. Kobe BryantKobe Bryant It kills me to have Kobe on this list. Not because I’m a personal fan of his or the Lakers, but more because the downpour of negativity and image blasting he received for the “Colorado” incident was so blown out of proportion. It happened in a major way though, so therefore he makes this list easily. Lets put it this way. If my happily married Mother of 40+ years would probably sleep with Kobe Bryant, I’m pretty sure that star struck 19 year old that accused him of rape would too, but that’s beside the point. From July of 03′ until years beyond the charges were dropped in Sept. 04′, Kobe was the target of the most media disapproval I had ever witnessed. Yes he admittedly committed adultery on his wife, but so had hundreds of other athletes (including a prominent Laker a handful of years before). He deserved some backlash but not the amount he endured. On top of the public fully demonizing him and sponsors dropping him, Phil Jackson had deemed him “uncoachable” in a book he released. After missing the playoffs in 04-05 and being at his lowest of lows as a basketball player, Kobe was reunited with Phil the following year to begin the transformation of the Kobe Bean we know today. Cut to 5 years, 2 rings, 1 MVP, 2 Finals MVP’s, 5 All-Star selections and 1 Gold Medal later and we have seen one of the most potent cases in history of playing your way back into the upper echelon of sports idols. The Black Mamba has regained all of his fans, media support, sponsors, and has stapled himself in as the best player in the NBA today and one of the greatest of all-time.

1. Michael VickMike VickMike Vick will be made an example of! He is a murderer! Probably getting 25 to life! If he ever sees the light of day, it wont be for long!!… Oh wait, He didn’t kill a human?? I could have sworn that’s what happened. At least that’s what I gauged based on all of the fan and media reactions… Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE dogs and have one myself, but there is a very clear line between the life of a house pet and a human. I’m not here to discuss how big that line is nor argue about the length of punishments for different crimes. I could sit here and list off a whole bunch of athletes from recent years and their crimes of manslaughter, rape & kidnapping. We could then take a look at the punishments (or lack thereof) and compare those cases to Vick’s. But let’s just take it for what it is, Michael Vick was put on more of a moral pedestal than any athlete we had ever seen before. Everyone jumped off his ship, because if you didn’t, YOU were then the horrible person. He lost every sponsor, fan, and possible dollar he had coming. He spent 21 months in jail and was publicly bashed by every prominent voice in the media. He was going to serve his time, and when he was done doing that he was done with football…. Well he did his (more than fair share of) time and had some supporters along the way that helped him prepare for post-imprisonment. He started the healing process the perfect way by taking full responsibility and showing true remorse for his actions. He stayed humble and was open to any opportunity that came calling.. I would say the right one called. After a year regaining his feel for the game under McNabb, some major image restoration and a Kevin Kolb injury, Michael Vick once again had his hands on the ultimate redemption prize. Last Night we watched the climax (to this point) of  the most epic case of being at the ultimate image low in a career and playing your way back in to the ever loving embrace of a country who wanted it too happen all along. Right? Mike Vick probably could have drowned an English Mastiff on the sidelines during MNF a couple nights ago and it wouldn’t have stopped the Vick love parade. He was unconscious, is back in the largest possible way and has officially played his way to the top of this list as well. Now go to and purchase your own Dog a #7 Eagles jersey damnit!!

Vick Dogs Jersey

(Post was written by “Senseiscommon.” Look forward to many more in the near future.)