Here’s Hoping For Better Sources Of Inspiration
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
The Brad Keselowski Show has been a hoot. Fun bit after fun bit. Some bits well thought out and serious, some spontaneous and humorous. Almost all, insightful. No doubt there will be more of the same when the 2012 Sprint Cup champion steps right up to the microphone for his big banquet gig at The Wynn in Las Vegas this weekend.
But, for some, there was one little turd in the churn. It surfaced post race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. No, not the gulping of beer out of a garishly large sponsor-emblazoned glass.
It was something he said. Somebody he quoted, actually.
In front of a national television microphone, Keselowski quoted NFL linebacker Ray Lewis and cited him as a source of inspiration.
And for about 30 seconds, Keselowski had lost me.
Because, Ray Lewis is exactly what is wrong with organized sports in America these days: days in which fans, media and the players themselves tend to care big about winning and paychecks, but not at all about character, integrity, responsibility and morals.
In sports today, if Charles Manson could run a 4.2 40, had a 99 mph fastball that moved in on left-handed batters, or had a 42-inch vertical leap, he would be sprung from the joint and in a locker room somewhere by Monday morning.
Keselowski is 28 years old. He had just turned 16 years old back in the early winter of 2000; the winter when Richard Lollar, 24, and Jacinth Baker, 21, were stabbed to death during an early morning fight near a nightclub in Atlanta.
Charged in the death orginally were two men in Lewis’ “entourage”, and Lewis himself. The charges were murder, felony murder and aggravated assault.
In the end, Lewis’ team of high profile attorneys cut a deal with prosecutors in which Lewis testified against his two limo-riding mates and the most serious charges were dropped.
In addition, testimony from witnesses which was damaging to Lewis originally, was alleged to have been altered.
An article in Sports Illustrated dated June 5th, said this about Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard: “It has been a difficult two weeks for Howard, who at times has shown exasperation at witnesses who change their testimony on the stand and at a judge who sustains most objections made by the defense.”
Lewis would up pleading guilty to obstruction of justice, ratted out his friends and skated off to continue his career – a career that is gushed over by every media play-by-play man and analyst who either have short memories or a sense that being great at putting hits on running backs trumps all moral terpitude.
Lewis’s two friends were later acquitted in the trial.
Lewis went through the American justice system – a system that inarguably favors the rich and powerful – and received his punishment; a year’s probation. The star Baltimore linebacker, who was playing under a reported $26 million contract at the time, was fined $250,000 but not suspended by the NFL.
He did a crime, he paid his fine. I get that. And I get the thing about making mistakes and getting second chances in America. And I do think people can change and “find God” (no matter the convenience of doing so); especially after events like those that can leave two men rapidly bleeding to death on a cold Atlanta sidewalk.
And, no, Lewis is absolutely not a murderer.
But geez, can’t we find better people to serve as inspirations? Are there not more people quote-worthy out there than those who leave nightclubs at 4 a.m. surrounded by people who earlier in the day went to a sporting good store and bought knives – knives that are not the kind which have the little foldout scissors and cork screw, nor butter-spreading type? (A Fulton County medical examiner was quoted as saying the two dead men’s injuries “were well-directed wounds into vital areas.”)
Fran Tarkenton: “Maybe you can’t play over your head at all. Maybe it’s just potential you never knew you had.”
Vince Lombardi: “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, and civilization work.”
Or Willie Mays: “In order to excel, you must be completely dedicated to your chosen sport. You must also be prepared to work hard and be willing to accept constructive criticism. Without a total 100 percent dedication, you won’t be able to do this.”
Or John Wooden: “The most important key to achieving great success is to decide upon your goal and launch, get started, take action, move.”
Keselowski has quickly become a personal favorite to watch, follow, interview and write about. When compiling lists of what is good and what is bad about racing in America, Keselowski’s name sits at the very top of “good”.
He was a great contender and will be a great Sprint Cup champion and ambassador.
I just wish he would have found and distributed inspiration from a different source.
As Arthur Ashe said about choosing sources of inspiration, “True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.”
– Jim Pedley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments