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The Redemption Card doesn't fit all athletes

Watching the introduction of the Browns vs. Steelers game this past Sunday, I saw a man receive a standing ovation like he had just slayed gladiators in The Coliseum and emerged victorious. No, the man who received that standing ovation was the man who recently came off of his four game suspension by the NFL for the allegations against him in what transpired in Milledgeville, Georgia. Many simply refer to this man as "Big Ben," aka Ben Roethlisberger.

Somehow, in the course of about three months, this man who wrecked in his motorcycle while not only having a legal license, but also while not wearing a helmet. This is the man who had been accused of "taking it" from another woman in 2009 at Lake Tahoe. This is a man who says that it wasn't actually HIM doing these things, but it was "Big Ben" who was acting out of control. Right...

Some athletes gratefully receive second and third chances and they come out victorious and glorious. Then you have athletes that feel they "deserve" that same chance. What works for one doesn't always work out for the other.

What motivated to write this article was watching the Texas Rangers push the New York Yankees to the brink of elimination last night, as A.J. Burnett decided to destroy any shred of confidence his manager had in him by serving a fastball right down the middle of the plate. Bengie Molina then decided to destroy the ball over the fence.

However, when you start to understand what's really going on with the Rangers, you have two individuals that stand out.

(Uncle) Ron Washington and Josh Hamilton.

Some of you might remember the name Ron Washington. Yep, he's that same dude at the very beginning of the season that got caught with that ooooo-weeeeee (cocaine) and was disciplined by Major League Baseball. However, the Rangers decided to stick by their manager and keep by his side. Why? I'd assume a couple of reasons:

One - The ownership of the Rangers was in flux, as the state of the team was up in the air.

Two - Who in the hell are you going to find to be the manager of your team at the first game of the season?

Three - Because maybe, just maybe, they believed in Uncle Ron.

(Aside: The whole naming of "Uncle Ron" is another reason why you need to be on Twitter. I believe the great Jemele Hill was the one who coined Ron Washington "Uncle Ron." Since then, it has spread like wildfire. How can you not appreciate a man that has the hairstyle reminiscent of George Jefferson? The man is from Louisiana and speaks like he's known you for 30 years. He reminds me of an old man that really wants to say something uplifting to you and you listen and it doesn't make any sense. Like he was quoting Dr. King but lyrics from Chuck Berry blended in: end aside).

Plus, the Rangers took a chance on Josh Hamilton. If you don't know the story of Josh Hamilton, then here's the super Reader's Digest version. The man was billed as the LeBron James of baseball out of high school, found out he loved to party, liked drinking (alot), got high on that streebo and that white girl, got out of baseball, came back, lit it up in Cincy, became injury-prone, and got paid to come Texas.

Now listen, all of us do a lot of dumb ish when we're young. Hell, I still do dumb stuff all the time that I cannot readily explain. However, that man put in some work! Real talk though, the Rangers said we're taking a chance on you, we believe. These cats have experienced playoff success, and instead of spraying champagne (pause) then out here spraying ginger ale? That's dope as hell, period.

Why is it dope? Because the Rangers believed in Uncle Ron's ability to manage and they believed in the player that was Josh Hamilton. The Rangers, as a team, love those two guys and are willing to go to bat for them at a moment's notice.

Do you all think the Steelers' players feel the same way about Big Ben? Let's keep it real about all of this...these teams NEED these players. The Steelers need Roethlisberger because the rest of their quarterbacks look like if and1grad, Phillip Barnett, and Stank-0 were out there taking the snaps.

When an athlete does something wrong, hell, they did something wrong. That's it. They should be held accountable, and the hope is they emerge as a better person. That's all I personally care about. Don't mess up this ultimate reality television that I am privy to each and every single day of my life.

We watch Vick rally the troops in Philadelphia and folks don't know how to react seeing the man succeed again at being an NFL quarterback. Is that Vick's redemption? If and when Tiger Woods comes back and wins another PGA Tour major championship, is that his redemption? What about athletes that aren't as talented as Vick, Big Ben, and Tiger? Are they redeemed by simply getting their life together, or is there more to it than that? I got the sense that Big Ben felt he "deserved" that opportunity, and that's what rubbed me the wrong way.


P.S. As a reminder, checkout the livest sports talk (and hopefully on the radio soon) show around, "The Unsportsmanlike Conduct Show" as we are live Wednesday's at 9pm Eastern at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/edthesportsfan! Download our podcasts if you missed the live show as well!


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