Not My Hero
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This is a tough question. It's a different type of question. This is a question none of us ever want to answer. What do we do when our heroes aren't super? What do we tell the children -- because ultimately, that's the question people are going to land on, isn't it?
The old super heroes in the comics used to have it so cut and dry. Good vs. evil. Superman had his Luthor. Batman had his Joker. We knew who was virtuous and who was villainous. But in the real world it's not that simple. There is good and bad in all of us, even our heroes.
Nobody is perfect and that's what makes the world a more interesting place to live, if you think about it. We all have vastly different flaws that make us uniquely human. Even our heroes.
Now -- if you'll allow me to completely contradict myself for a moment -- there are flaws and there are flaws. Smoking the occasional cigarette or lying to get out of a speeding ticket are flaws. Having a relationship with a woman nearly half your age who is not your wife and getting stopped in a car with her while she is driving under the influence of illegal substances, all while your wife is presumably home with your four kids, is a whole different stratosphere of flaws.
If what's been reported is to be believed, Steve McNair was no saint. It's somewhat of a shame that his reputation has been sullied over the last few days. First he was lauded as being one of the true good guys in the league. People in the league and fans across the country talked about how he was 'one of the good guys' and praised his toughness. But what does his physicality have to do with his death? Or his life? Why does it matter how good of a teammate he was or how involved he was in the community? None of that pertains to what happened to him a few days ago.
This quote in the Tennessean, taken from a fan who drove up from Kentucky to Nashville just to be near the place McNair was gunned down, is something I'm still not able to wrap my head around.
"Anyone can get famous," said (Kelly) McCracken, who attends five or more Titans games a year. "But it takes a genuinely moral person to be a leader. He wasn't just a football player, he was a leader."
That quote is so wrongheaded on so many levels. First, one's morality has nothing to do with his or her ability to lead. Just ask anyone on The Hill about that one and see how long it takes before they stop laughing. Second, if it takes a genuinely moral person to be a leader, and Ms. McCracken is surmising that because of that McNair was in fact a leader, it's fascinating to think this quote came from someone outside the CRIME SCENE OF HIS MURDER WHERE HE WAS FOUND WITH HIS MISTRESS.
Where exactly are the morals in any of this? Can someone tell me, after all that's been reported, has anything fallen into the 'morals' clause of the contract? But this is what we do. Because a man was tough on the football field -- and toughness is something we laud in our gridiron greats -- we salute him for being admirable off the field as well. Clearly, at least in his personal life, that was not the case.
The fact of this entire terrible situation that remains evident is that whatever the relationship Steve McNair had with Sahel Kazemi -- be it cheating on his wife or an open marriage or whatever it was -- had he not been in that condo at 2AM on July 4th he might still be alive today. For whatever reason, he chose to be with a 20-year old woman that night and not his wife. And now he's dead because of it.
People aren't perfect, and there's been much talk on the second layer of this story about the culture of athletes stepping out on their wives and families. Maybe situations like this will curtail some of that. Regardless of what comes out of this situation, it won't bring Steve McNair back.
This was a tragic situation, but one that Steve McNair seemed to bring upon himself. This isn't like Sean Taylor. This wasn't a seemingly random act of violence. This was someone who wanted Steve McNair dead because of something he did (or didn't do). And that's on him.
To question if McNair is a hero isn't fair. Should he be considered a hero after knowing he was hurting his wife and kids every day he was with another woman? No, of course not. But why was he considered a hero in the first place? Because he could run and throw? Because he won a lot of games? Because he was a warrior?
If you pick your heroes based on arm strength and 40 times, maybe you're not the type of person who'll mind a little action on the side. For me -- there are flaws and there are flaws. I'll hold my heroes to a little higher standard.
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