Athletes who bash the media shouldn't join the media
Posted: Monday October 17, 2005 11:46AM; Updated: Monday October 17, 2005 1:05PM
It can be argued, I suppose, that dealing with the media is part of an athlete's job. Judging by the number of times I've seen a player (or coach) mock, deride or otherwise belittle a fourth estater (trust me, having your merit called into question by a man who's eating a handful of table cold cuts while not wearing pants is about as belittling as it gets), I'd venture to say that many of them don't seem to like it. (I'm not necessarily blaming them. If I were famous, chances are I'd be the biggest jackass you'd ever meet.) In my experience, if Kenny Lofton would turn and face you while ignoring your questions, you'd done well. Paul O'Neill had quite the surly streak, as did David Justice. By most accounts, former Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson could be a little difficult, to say the least. Many believe his election to the Hall of Fame was slowed by his contentious relationship with the press. The same can be said for Jim Rice. Sterling Sharpe didn't talk to the press for much of his career.
Again, that's their prerogative. If you don't dig reporters, that's all cool. Just don't go off and become one. Lofton was on FOX last night; O'Neill and Justice do Yankees games (and Justice does some ESPN work, too); Thompson's got a radio gig. It's a bit hypocritical for a guy like Justice, who used to store the names of writers who had criticized him on his computer, to take a job that ostensibly requires him to look at the game with a critical eye. If you can't accept the press's fundamental right to exist when you're a player, don't suddenly become an advocate for the media now that there's a paycheck and the promise of getting to remain in front of the camera in it for you.
Guys, take a page from Groucho Marx. He said he'd never join a club that would have him as a member. So please don't join one made up of folks you'd just as soon insult in your underwear.