The League

Roman Oben
Retired Football Player

Roman Oben

Played 12 years as a tackle in the NFL

Some Role Models Cheat


Until July 4, 2009, there was no doubt about Steve McNair's leadership, toughness and character on and off the football field. He was certainly one of the best players ever to wear an Oilers/ Titans uniform.

Unfortunately, what I've heard recently about McNair runs contrary to what I stated above: "liar, cheat, dishonest, double life," and most shockingly, I overheard one lady at the gym say he "reaped what he sowed." Yes, capital punishment for adultery!

McNair's tragic death came as a shock to many people not simply because of how but why: Is he any less a role model because he was not faithful at home? Should athletes as a whole not be considered role models if they make mistakes in their marriage?

My definition of role model is someone who leads by example in a specific area; however, it has become an overused phrase that shouldn't necessarily describe professional athletes. We should tell our children to be inspired by the hard work, dedication and sacrifice it takes to make a professional sports team and not marvel about players' salaries, fame and material possessions.

Sporting events are a fun distraction from the monotony of our daily routines, but obsessing about athletes' personal lives takes the focus away from the reason we admire them.

If a pro athlete is unfaithful to his spouse, it shouldn't affect his standing as a leader in the locker room, on the field or in the community. Society's focus on the spoils of success has created a culture where a professional athletes' personal mistakes are not only news but also headlines.

Extra-marital affairs happen every day, and the lives of many people involved are damaged because of it. Most guys I knew who were notorious cheaters, however, weren't always the same people who were noted for their community involvement. Maybe that is why the McNair shooting came as such a surprise to all of us.

These role models are human beings -- not the perfect heroes society needs -- and will have flaws, and stumble, and sometimes make bad choices the way human beings do. McNair fits into that category of a role model, and although he was unfaithful, that does not erase his hard work, his accomplishments, his generosity, all the good things about him. The unfortunate circumstances of his death should not be his legacy.

Because I have a wife and two sons, what saddens me the most about McNair's "infidelity gone wrong" is the burden his wife and sons will have to carry about how their father left this earth.


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By Roman Oben  |  July 8, 2009; 2:23 PM ET  | Category:  Baltimore Ravens , Crime , Tennessee Titans Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Who Needs a Real Hero? | Next: A Family Tragedy


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A professional athlete should never be considered a "role model" regardless of his personal/professional lives. An athlete is an entertainer who relies on his physical abilities. Of course, it require discipline and hard work, but what doesn't?

Let us use scientists, teachers, writers, fighters as heros and leave actors, singers and athletes out of the role model business

Posted by: peaceful2008 | July 9, 2009 12:29 AM

>>>...Mistakes in their marriage?

Sorry, but I'm NOT buying the "mistakes in their marriage" excuse. McNair made NO mistake in his affair with this woman. To call this a mistake is to excuse McNair's deliberate involvement in this relationship. After all, McNair was seen and photographed on public beach with her. Was that a mistake? I doubt it, since he his actions was an open secret.
No one deserves the death penalty for an affair, but McNair's family - his wife and children - deserved well better respect than what he dished out to them. McNair not only cheated his wife and sons out of his time with them and cheated his wife of companionship, but he diverted significant money out of his household tht would have been better put to use for his children. McNair had only himself to blame for putting his family in this situation since he made the choice to go outside of his marriage for this affair.

I have no sympathy for cheaters who want to burn the candle at both ends. Keeping out affairs on the side means that the person is exercising DISCIPLINE and RESTRAINT. Otherwise, trying to explain away the adultery is what I call an entitlement mentality.

So...all of you jocks, this is your wakeup call to get right with your family and cut aloose the chicks on the side. And no...athletes are not heroes; they're only people who do a high profile job that pays extremely well.

One more thing -- I don't know how some of his associates who knew of this open secret can even face the wife with a straight face at the funeral knowing what they knew. That alone involves an incredible amount of dishonesty in itself.

Posted by: ldsw | July 9, 2009 12:33 AM

Mr. Oben,
I totally disagree with your comment that "[i]f a pro athelete is unfaithful to his spouse, it shouldn't affect his standing as a leader in the locker room, on the field or in the community." I wonder does your wife feel that way? And, if you're not married, I wonder how the person that would consider marrying you feel about your point of view.

Adultery is wrong, it abuses and shatters the trust that your mate should have in you and affects one's relationship with the person that should be "their best friend," not to mention the relationship with the One who gives you life, as faithfulness to one's mate is a violation of God's law. It's truly a challenge to us humans when what we want to do conflicts with what God's law requires of his. In this instance, Steve McNair failed and, while his murder doesn't justify his actions, he, unfortunately, paid the ultimate price.

As a married man, I wouldn't want to have over for dinner an individual who's unfaithful to his wife, would you? And, no, it has absolutely nothing to do with my insecurities as a married man but has everything to do with the trust I should have in an individual that I'd bring into my home. And I know that I speak for my wife when I say that she wouldn't want him/her over either. When it comes to one's moral standing, you simply can't have it both ways.

I think athletes are judged by a different standard, as if the talents they bring to the playing field somehow justifies their infidelity and wrong conduct. Try telling that to his wife right about now. I don't think she's buying it. If Steve were still alive, can you imagine him saying to his wife: "Honey, I know I messed up but what I've done on the field and in the community overshadows what I've done to you." How do you think his kids feel about now? If he were still alive, don't you think that his "standing" would affect their lives when they go back to school. It probably will anyway, but think about it: would you want your kids going to school with "your father is a cheater" label thrown at them? I wouldn't want that for my kids.

The word virtue means moral excellence. When you cheat you don't have that. And people rightly value individuals with virtue. And when you don't have virtue, yes, your standing in the community will -- and should -- "take a hit."

I do agree with your comment about his family at the end. What a tragic way to have what is stated at Galations 6:7 fulfilled in this instance.

Posted by: 4rds | July 9, 2009 6:09 AM

The fact of the matter is, most men who succeed and become famous and/or powerful get to spread around their genetics. Role model schmole model, the reason to play football, basketball, baseball or hockey; to win bike races, knock someone out in the ring, become a movie star, play electric guitar or get elected president is to get girls. That's the underlying drive. Hell the reason to be a good role model is probably to get girls!

And how 'bout some of these women? They don't even have to be all that attractive (Monica Lewinski) or sane (McNair's homicidal/suicidal girlfriend) and they can make men go absolutely nuts! Too bad all this conflicts so strongly with a stable, loving family life.

Wife and kids can't always compete with 20-year-old strippers. God the Father is the ultimate practical joker. He directs us to stay faithful in our marriages but then he sprinkles the earth w/young, nubile strippers, nannies, interns and college students! Anyone who thinks our God is a serious God hasn't looked around. He is a wild guy!

Posted by: ckn1074 | July 9, 2009 8:39 AM

He didn't necessarily deserve to die but a hero on the football field and some good works was obviously only part of the picture of who he was so like Michael Jackson, let's not turn him into a saint. He was playing with dynamite. It sometimes explodes. Especially if you are reckless about it. Maybe that's why it's considered morally wrong.

And I think older, married, male celebrities picking up twenty year old waitresses is exploitive in a very yucky way.

Posted by: SarahBB | July 9, 2009 8:42 AM

McNair did not make a "mistake". "Mistakes" by definition are momentary and accidental. McNair made a "decision" to engage in a pretty sleazy affair with a girl almost half his age and prolonged it over time, so please let's stop playing the "mistake" card.

If you want to hold up McNair as a hero/example in the narrow context of sports and on-field performance, then that is understandable. But that is where it ends. It's nice that McNair did some community service with his cash. But how is he a role model in the "community" - where family and relationships are key?

How many communities are devastated b/c men shirk their responsibilities toward their families? Leave wives and children? Go off and get into messy stuff on the side? DUIs? Getting high? This is the life that McNair and his girlfriend threw themselves into on the side. How is this an "example" to the community?

Posted by: p1funk | July 9, 2009 8:49 AM

You are confusing "mistakes" with "repeated, decisions"

Posted by: trident420 | July 9, 2009 9:20 AM

So...Vick's dog-antics hold more negative sway over sports role-model-ness than infidelity? We consider the treatment of dogs more than the treatment of humans? Why are marriage-cheaters not drummed out of and banned from sports? Save the Whales, but abortion is OK? Give the drug-dealer job training but hold the Muslim "terrorist" forever in a cage? Grossly overpay failed CEOs but grossly underpay police and fire personnel, those who actually protect us and save lives? No, if a man or woman can lie to a spouse, whether quarterback or senator or president, or if a person holds hypocritically opposite positions on vital moral issues, whether Republican or Democrat, black or white, Muslim or Christian...whatever...that person should not be upheld as a role model.

Posted by: schaeffz | July 9, 2009 9:26 AM

Very disillusioning. Star athletes should be held to a higher standard. However, I'm jaded enough that I don't encourage my children to view them as "character" role models. Many are now gangster role models of violence and materialism. Even their athleticism is under question due to steroids.
It takes a long time for me to deeply admire a star athlete, based on a good record on and off the field over time. A few that come to mind: Darrell Green, Cal Ripken. Tiger Woods is relatively young and could still slip, but currently seems to be a solid citizen. Maintaining marital fidelity in the face of growing fame, income, temptation makes a favorable impression on me about their character.

Posted by: jjj33 | July 9, 2009 10:23 AM

He obviously didn't deserve to die, but anyone who defends him is a fool. This man's behavior was shamefull, and he deserves to be shamed. So do you for defending him. This is a very disappointing post.

Posted by: baro | July 9, 2009 10:43 AM

Role Models are presumed to be people who have exceptional Moral and Ethical behavior. "Perfect people". With that description, it limits all of mankind from ever attaining that description. But we all can be role models, even in our mistake filled lives. For the role model to have an impact on someone's life in a positive way doesn't not neccessarily preclude him from being a person who has not made mistakes. In fact that person can teach others what things they don't want to have happen in their lives. A sort of "revelational experience", and that can end up a good thing. Whatever the case, I think that people have the wrong perception of our atheletes and enetrtainers in general. They want them to manage our children for us, by being this totally complete person, to which is a totally idiaodic idea. They are people !! Period !! Even the best intentioned ones. When we ourselves take more responsiblity to manage what is in our care, that need for others to compensate for the things which we desire for our children to incorporate in their lives will dissipate. I think that we all should assume the role of, to raise a kid takes a village, the very same approach in the 50's, 60's & 70's, the era's I grew up, took part in. There is no perfect solution. We all have to understand our own frailties are real, and that WE ALL have them. All of us. There was ONLY 1 real role model. His name was and is Jesus Christ. We should all seek him as our role model. Anything else is a fabrication of our Godly pursuits. Once we understand that, this converstaion should be obsolete. Because we all know that we all make mistakes, we all fall short, and anyone who is attemting to state otherwise, is not for you, he is seeking to destroy your very existence, by invoking something within the Human experience, that is not pssible. The perfect person. Sometimes imperfection, can be a great teaching tool.......

Posted by: regfree | July 9, 2009 10:44 AM

Why should sports heros be role models at all? Young people cannot acquire the natural height, speed or strength of athletes, or otherwise improve their lives, through admiring them.

If a sports hero happens also to perform truly meritorious good works (as opposed to self-marketing masquerading as charity), then perhaps they could also serve as role models. But so very, very few of them ever do.

So the question is not whether Mr. McNair can still be a role model given his adultery. It is why anyone should ever have considered him a role model in the first place.

Posted by: Itzajob | July 9, 2009 10:49 AM

From the time that we first start following sports every kid that does looks up to athletes and tries to emulate them. Whether it's there batting stance, or wind up, the way they behave, everyone knows that this happens. Kids pay attention. So to any professional athlete that says he's not a role model, I say you are wrong. It's part of the lifestyle of being a pro, whether you like it or not. In exchange for the fame you also get the responsibility. If you don't want the responsibility no one is forcing you to go pro. There are other careers out there for you.

Posted by: pippsk | July 9, 2009 11:32 AM

"... although he was unfaithful, that does not erase his hard work, his accomplishments, his generosity, all the good things about him."

Yes it does, because he's dead. Everything he thought he achieved is gone because he's gone. If he gets elected to the Hall of Fame, will he be there with his family to accept the honor? No, because he's dead. If someone passes his league or team records, will he be at the game to acknowledge the new hero? No, because he's dead.

when his children graduate from school, get married, get drafted, get whatever, will he be there to witness the achievements of his offspring? No, because he's dead.

He's dead because his mistress killed him because, even though he was married to another woman, she thought he was cheating on him with even a third woman! He's dead because he was a cheater. That does erase much of what he achieved in life, even his relationship with his wife and children. They will never think of him the same way again.

As we used to say on the playground basketball court, no one needed to check him because he was a "self-check."

Posted by: rb-freedom-for-all | July 9, 2009 12:39 PM

Any way you cut it, adultery is breaking your word. If a mans word is no good, neither is he. He may be a role model, but then again to some, so was Hitler. You are only as good a role model as you are a person. The media and society needs to quit lowering the bar for what is seen as a role model.

Posted by: TRACIETHEDOLPHIN | July 9, 2009 3:16 PM

Wow. Such a group of sinless little Hitlers throwing stones with such vindictiveness. He committed adultery, so he deserved death. Couple that with the mentality of the past eight years that put the U.S. in its current economic and cowering position, and one could say: "You all deserve it."

Posted by: edwcorey | July 9, 2009 3:20 PM

I agree with Mr. Oben....

Posted by: 4thFloor | July 9, 2009 3:40 PM

I'm sorry -- all this anger and outrage is just because he cheated on his wife? Like 40% of all spouses? Yes, he had an affair and affairs hurt - but just like with Bill Clinton - I just don't see that he did anything "wrong" that anyone outside of his wife should be upset about. I keep assuming he did something more than just have an affair - but he didn't. And everyone's this hateful because of that? I can't believe there is one single article about "mistakes." I think that term is an exaggeration. He just had an affair and no one knows why. And P1funk, I think you're losing it.

Posted by: Urnesto | July 9, 2009 4:12 PM

It is one thing to be a royal prince forced to come up with a brood mare to produce the next king. It is another to voluntarily and enthusiastically enter into marriage with a woman you love. Infidelity is expected in the first case. Infidelity should be regarded with contempt in the second.

Posted by: kencorn | July 9, 2009 6:01 PM

Re: "...what saddens me the most about McNair's 'infidelity gone wrong' is the burden his wife and sons will have to carry about how their father left this earth."

What saddens me the most is that his sons will not have the guidance of their father, and another family will not have the joy of their beautiful daughter.

Posted by: SoldiersMom | July 10, 2009 7:05 AM

His behavior is unforgivable.

I'll say this and I am not a football fan. While I was in Nashville, McNair caught my attention. He was always polite and humble in interviews. He seemed willing to play on in spite of fairly serious injury and was more productive on the ground some seasons than Eddie George the "star" running back. He came from humble, rural beginnings and bought the cotton field where his Mom had picked cotton and built her a mansion. He really was a cut above the typical "spoiled" NFL quarterback. I'll remember that fondly. I'm from Mississippi and was proud he was a fellow citizen of the Magnolia State.

I'm damn sad he ended that life this way.

Posted by: willandjansdad1 | July 10, 2009 7:17 AM

I guess you would be too good to have dinner with the likes of Martin Luther King Jr, let alone Mary Magdalene or the Woman at the Well.

Lucky for us mortals, not everybody feels as you do.

Posted by: SoldiersMom | July 10, 2009 7:20 AM

No, I wouldn't be so good that I couldn't dine with MLK Jr. and Mary Magdalene. In fact, I'd probably think that they would agree with virtue is moral excellence and it's what my family asks -- and requires of me. And, like you, I'm a mortal man and a sinner who struggles everyday with doing the right thing. And, I thank God that he blesses me with strength to say NO when these types of situations arise in my life and, believe you me, they do.

Since you are a Mom, it truly saddens me that you don't expect this from your husband. Or you're probably the type of Mom that says: "he can stray all he wants as long as he comes back home." if you are married, I hope you don't catch anything (i.e., STDs) or, more importantly, experience the loss of trust of the person who said that they'd be faithful to you forever as Mechelle has so sadly experienced.

One final point, you don't have to agree with me. That's what these posts are for. But since you disagree, I'd gladly like to hear your viewpoint on the matter, if you can articulate that in writing. You can do that, can't you?

Posted by: 4rds | July 11, 2009 5:51 AM

McNair is a loser in life and cannot go back and change it for his four children and wife. This is all about Democrats and Bill Clinton--black folks making excuses for not giving a fat rats butt about morals and values because one of their guys did this. There are only one in ten faithful black fathers in American cities across the US and the black single moms and grandmoms all perpetuate this sick cultural sin. Even worse, most of the (so called Bible believing black pastors won't touch this and the Obamas wanting planned parenthood to kill millions per year in no matter what term of the pregnancy-yeah the SC republican senator should be stripped of his job too. Do you know how liberal churches parade the great Obama, Clinton, and John Edwards in front of their black congregations right before elections saying vote to support our agenda making them a role model.

Posted by: uncommonsense11 | July 11, 2009 6:20 PM

We as adults seem to forget that he wasn't a role model for the 30, 40, or even 50 year old man or woman... It was the 9 year old kid. The teenage boy who plays for his highschool football team. I admired athletes when I was younger. The perception of what I thought of professional athletes has now changed over time because I'm an adult who has other things to worry about and not who is sleeping with someone besides their spouse.. But I also know that the level of fanaticism that I had for those professional atheletes had a big impact on where I am today.. Magic johnson was and will be one of my favorite athletes ever. I know what he went through and is still going through is something that I would never want to experience. But that has no bearing on what he did on the basketball court. And as a child at that time, that was all that mattered to me. My parents showed me right from wrong when I was a child.. But Magic johnson showed me there can be more to life than working as a nurse or being a mechanic at a dead end job.. I love my parents, but working 9 to 5 and being able to bearly survive isnt what I looked for in a role model. The professional athlete at that time was who I aspired to be.. So we as adults condemn McNair and feel he should not be considered a role model. But its not the adults who should be considering who is a role model and who isnt.. Its the kids

Posted by: manu86 | July 13, 2009 9:25 PM

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