06.24.09

Conlin : Where’s The Outrage Over Sports’ Drunks?

Posted in Baseball, Gridiron, social crusaders, Sports Journalism, The Law at 2:13 pm by

“Alcohol has been the favorite pastime of the National Pastime going back to when everybody was humming ‘Slide, Kelly Slide’” insists the Philadelphia Daily News’ Bill Conlin, citing his own firsthand knowledge of 1890′s baseball.  That said, while Conlin is an oft ridiculed figure around these parts, he makes a rather salient point when insisting, “the Steroid Era, where testing rules and penalties are bartered as it unfolds, is a stark disconnect when measured against the carnage of drunken driving.”

Alcohol-related accidents cause a death every half-hour and an injury every 2 minutes. Alcohol-related crashes claim an average of 17,000 victims a year. You’ve probably read that criminal justice is a popular major for college football players. I can see why. Such a pervasive culture of thuggery has developed around Joe Paterno’s “Grand Experiment” at Penn State, I wondered if the State College drunk tank has blocking sleds.

Listen, I’m not going all preachy on you. I was bounced from Bucknell University 55 years ago for an alcohol-related incident. No whiny appeals in those days, just a bus ticket handed to me the next morning by the Dean of Men.

Former Eagles wideout Donté Stallworth killed a pedestrian in Miami on March 14 while driving drunk. Boy, the prosecutor really stuck it to him – 30 whole days in jail for taking a life due to his criminal negligence. Oh, he’ll have some additional inconvenience – 2 years of house arrest, 8 more on probation and 1,000 hours community service. Bottom line, Donté ducked a 15-year stretch. The NFL immediately suspended him indefinitely.

So, on one hand a guy who commited vehicular manslaughter gets a relative wrist slap. On the other, Manny Ramirez tested positive in a random spring-training test and was suspended 50 games. He also will forfeit $7.7 million of his $25 million salary.

Try to remember, however, that the toll caused by alcohol-related auto accidents blows away the yearly KIA figures suffered in our ongoing two-front wars. But nobody has founded MAAJ – Mothers Against Anabolic Juicing. Not yet.

While I’m pleased Conlin resisted the temptation to compare Stallworth’s case to that of Michael Vick, I’m not sure I see the analogy between the criminal charges faced by the Browns WR and violating another sport’s drug policy.  If Conlin would like to see Major League Baseball implement a Vehicular Homicide policy, he might be satisfied knowing most states already have one of their own in place.  Though the columnist is technically correct in scoffing there’s no Mothers Against Anabolic Juicing, surely a journalist as well informed as Conlin is familiar with the Taylor Hoot0n Foundation?

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