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Thanks to Twitter, Athletes Can't Be Saved From Themselves

Aug 13, 2009 – 9:00 PM
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David Whitley

David Whitley %BloggerTitle%

This is an odd time to thank Donte' Stallworth for anything, but we all owe him our gratitude for helping end the worst charade in sports.

The Prepared Statement, also known as Complete B.S.

I hesitate to use abbreviations like B.S., but they are unavoidable in this dawning age of truthfulness. People want to know how much of Stallworth's remorse is genuine, and how much is you-know-what.

Here is his official statement after Roger Goodell suspended him for the season:

"Commissioner Goodell called me this morning. Obviously, I am disappointed, but, as I said previously, I accept the Commissioner's decision. Regardless of the length of my suspension, I will carry the burden of Mr. Reyes' death for the rest of my life.

"I urge NFL fans not to judge NFL players or me based on my tragic lapse in judgment. I am a good person who did a bad thing. I will use the period of my suspension to reflect, fulfill my obligations, and use this experience to make a positive impact on the lives of those who look up to NFL players."

Here is what Stallworth had to say on Twitter a few hours earlier:

"TO ALL MY FAM IN THE LEAGUE: GOD BLESS YALL, STAY HEALTHY, GOOD LUCK THIS SEASON!!! I'M WATCHIN EVERY F---IN GAME."

So which is the real Stallworth?

The chastened young Shakespeare who would win the National Spelling Bee? Or the emphatic egoist who left the 'G' off the F-word?

Call me a cynic, but I think Stallworth was far more concerned about himself than Mr. Reyes. Of course, Goodell's ruling couldn't really affect Mario Reyes.

He has been dead since March, when he got in the way of Stallworth's Bentley on a Miami freeway. That came after Stallworth got in the way of enough drinks to have a blood-alcohol level of .126, well above the legal limit.

I'm not saying Stallworth doesn't regret getting drunk and killing a man. I'd just be a little more convinced of deep regret if he'd at least mentioned Reyes on this pivotal day.

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Sports Figures in Trouble With the Law
June 16: NFL wide receiver Donte Stallworth, left, pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter and will serve 30 days in jail.
Alan Diaz, AP
Alan Diaz, AP

Athletes in Trouble With the Law

    Aug. 11: Former football star Lawrence Phillips, pictured here with the Dolphins in 1998, was convicted of assault and other charges. Phillips already was serving a 10-year sentence for hitting three teenagers with his car in Los Angeles. Click through to see more sports figures who ran into trouble with the law.

    AFP / Getty Images

    Aug. 9: Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane is charged with attacking a cab driver in his hometown. According to the police report, the driver said he was hit because he did not have 20 cents in change to give Kane and his cousin.

    Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images

    Aug. 5 Defensive end Juqua Parker was arrested on a marijuana possession charge near the Philadelphia Eagles' training camp.

    AP

    Aug. 2: Roger Mayweather, the uncle and trainer of Floyd Mayweather Jr., faces felony coercion and battery charges.

    Tom Shaw, Getty Images

    July 16: The Phoenix Mercury suspended Diana Taurasi for two games after she was cited on drunk-driving related charges. Taurasi was also cited for speeding during the incident on July 2.

    Nathaniel S. Butler, NBAE / Getty Images

    July 14: Former Brazilian soccer star Romario was arrested for allegedly failing to make child support payments.

    Ricardo Moraes, AP

    July 15: Former NFL running back Travis Henry Henry was sentenced to three years in federal prison for financing a drug trafficking operation.

    Doug Pensinger, Getty Images

    July 14: Former NBA star Antoine Walker faces criminal charges stemming from $822,500 in gambling debts. Prosecutors say he failed to make good on 10 checks totaling $1 million written to Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood and the Red Rock Resort.

    Joe Murphy, NBAE / Getty Images

    July 9: Pro Football Hall of Famer Bruce Smith was given a 90-day suspended jail sentence for his DUI conviction.

    Chris O'Meara, AP

    July 2: Former major leaguer Jim Leyritz was arrested on charges of domestic battery against his ex-wife, just two months before his trial on a DUI manslaughter charge was set to begin.

    Larry Marano, Getty Images


"PRAY FOR YA BOY PLZ... I CAN FEEL IT IN THE AIR!! KEEPING MY FINGERS CROSSED... TOES TOO (eeeeewww) GOD BLESS."

That was an earlier post on Stallworth's Twitter page. I never thought I'd have anything good to say about Twitter since the only daily minutiae I'd care to read would be Hugh Hefner's.

But the Twitter revolution has removed the filter that protected athletes from themselves. The smart ones still think twice before tweeting, but a lot of them can't resist sharing their wisdom.

Whatever pops into their heads goes straight to their fingers and is typed for the world to see. I still don't care to read Shaquille O'Neal's views on cap-and-trade. But when a jock gets in trouble, we can now hope he starts typing before his agent snatches the keyboard.

They'd much prefer to issue a prepared statement that makes Homer J. Simpson sound like William F. Buckley. Guess who this is:

"I would like to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to Commissioner Goodell for allowing me to be readmitted to the National Football League. I fully understand that playing football in the NFL is a privilege, not a right, and I am truly thankful for opportunity I have been given."

If you guessed Michael F. Vick, you must have sat by him in that Advanced Literature class at Virginia Tech. How about this one:

"I understand my responsibilities to my teammates, the Titans and my fans, and I am committed to turning my life around and being a positive member of the NFL."

That beauty came from Pacman Jones, who displayed his commitment by brawling his way out of Dallas .

I don't know who issued the first prepared statement. Maybe it was Adam after he ate the apple.

"I sincerely regret my error in judgment concerning my responsibilities with forbidden fruit, and I'd like to express my gratitude and appreciation to God for making me aware of my lack of proper sartorial development."

Adam on Twitter:

"EVE IS A BI---!!!"

The malarkey got thicker with the invention centuries later of the PR Flack. College-educated people now sit around cranking out statements even they realize are preposterous. Either that, or they think you'll believe a guy who's never uttered a complete sentence can write a flawlessly flowing paragraph.

It's all just a silly game designed to cushion the public's reaction. Everybody played along, but now the parameters are changing.

You don't have to laugh through a prepared statement issued by an athlete. Just go to their Twitter page.

It can be pretty F-IN revealing.
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