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Pardoner's Tale
Steve Rushin
March 12, 2001
In an era of officially bestowed forgiveness, the sports world offers a lineup of likely excusees
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March 12, 2001

Pardoner's Tale

In an era of officially bestowed forgiveness, the sports world offers a lineup of likely excusees

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Since the former president pardoned a cocaine kingpin and a fugitive financier, I've been considering sportswriterly pardons for our most notorious rogues—from Shoeless Joe Jackson (granted!) to Pantsless Mark Chmura (denied!).

So I hereby pardon Pete Rose for having bet on baseball. (His barber, on the other hand, will be arraigned before an international tribunal in The Hague and made to pay for his crimes against humanity.)

I hereby pardon Wilt Chamberlain for having slept with 20,000 women, which wasn't nearly as time-consuming as you would think. (Turns out he merely had 9,996 three-ways, and one m�nage � neuf.)

I hereby pardon myself. In a single regrettable night last summer, I slept with 6,328 women. (Literally. I was in the stands at a WNBA game.)

Charles Oakley says 60% of NBA players smoke marijuana. I hereby pardon, for their appalling lack of judgment, the other 40%. (Imagine enduring the indignities of NBA life—being chewed out by Jeff Van Gundy, ogled by Dyan Cannon, "owned" by Donald Sterling—without a buzz on.)

I hereby pardon Carlton Fisk for pretending not to see or hear me when I stood 12 inches in front of him—on my first assignment as a baseball writer—and asked him five times, in a squeaky voice, for a three-minute interview, at his convenience, at any time in the next three days. The sixth time I asked " Mr. Fisk," he simply walked away, leaving me to stand there, in foul territory at Comiskey Park, sniffing my armpits and checking my breath with my hand.

I hereby pardon baseball's profligate owners, who have finally shown remorse for their ruinous ways by exercising fiscal restraint. This winter, when Derek Jeter asked for $19 million a year, George Steinbrenner refused to give him a nickel more than $18.9 million. When Mariano Rivera demanded $40 million for four years, Big Stein drew the line at $39.99 million, take it or leave it. Way to show 'em who's boss, Boss!

I hereby pardon Marty McSorley, but not until he serves 20 years alone in a box. (That works out to 5,256,000 consecutive two-minute sentences.)

I hereby pardon Rae Carruth, who movingly protested his innocence in the shooting death of a Charlotte woman by saying that the victim was not in fact his girlfriend, merely someone with whom he fathered a child. "I didn't even know her last name," Carruth said, memorably, to CNNSI, "until we went to Lamaze class."

I hereby pardon Bob Knight, who recently threatened to throw a Playboy interviewer out of a moving car. For the General it was, comparatively speaking, an enlightened act of conflict mediation, considering he told that same inquisitor, "I would have enjoyed living in the West from 1875 until the 1890s, where your disagreements were settled by whoever had the fastest draw."

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