Goodell made correct move with suspensions | SierraSun.com

Goodell made correct move with suspensions

Alex Close
Sierra Sun

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell took a step in the right direction Tuesday by cracking down on out-of-control players with suspensions.

Tennessee’s Adam “Pacman” Jones will sit out the entire 2007 season and Cincinnati’s Chris Henry will miss eight games due to flirtations with the law off the field.

Pacman has been in the news most recently for his apparent involvement in a Las Vegas shooting during the NBA All-Star weekend.

And Henry, arrested four times in a 14-month span? Give me a break.

Why can’t professional athletes learn that they are no longer gangsters?

You’ve made it big time. You’re not in the hood anymore. You make millions and millions of dollars to play the game you love. Why do you feel the need to keep on acting like a thug? You’ve proven yourself; you’re a baller.

Now I know that athletes, especially those who make it to the upper echelons such as the NFL or NBA, have incredibly strong competitive streaks. But off the field these people must get a grip on themselves.

These guys are professionals and they need to act like it.

The funny thing is that if these athletes were not professionals, this standard wouldn’t even be a question.

Under Nevada Interscholastic Athletic Association (NIAA) policies, North Tahoe High School student athletes don’t get any warnings. The first drug or alcohol offense results in a six-game suspension. On the third violation, your high school career is over.

Why is it that our steroid-infused baseball stars don’t have to adhere to policies like that?

While North Tahoe Athletic Director Scott Everist says he doesn’t run into many problems with his players, if a kid is in trouble with the law he won’t be at school, and if he is not at school he won’t play, period.

Because our youth look up to celebrities, and athletes have become celebrities, big-time players like Pacman and Henry must be chastised and reprimanded for suspect off-field actions.

Goodell’s decision helps remind the youth that it cannot have both. You cannot be a gangstar and a superstar.

“[Kids] have to be reminded that there’s consequences for their actions,” Everist said. Because of that, the Laker AD and head football coach says the NFL suspensions are a positive example for young athletes who are too often shown that if they are good enough at their sport, they can get away with anything.

Everist said that off-field issues are increasingly being dropped in the laps of coaches, and each case is special. Sometimes athletics can help troubled kids, and taking that away can be detrimental.

But the line is a thin one.

So what happened to positive role models? Michael Jordan. Clyde Drexler. Joe Montana. Jerry Rice.

These guys were first to practice, last to leave. United Way Foundation.

They showed young athletes that hard work and discipline ” on and off the field ” earned you success and prestige.

Not that being the hardest SOB on the block made you the boss, and when you’re the boss you can do as you please.

‘Atta boy Roger, don’t take any crap off those boys just because they’re fast and sell tickets.

They’re thugs and they don’t belong in the big house.

Alex Close is the assistant editor of the Tahoe World and a sportswriter for the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at aclose@tahoe-world.com.