NFL Tragedy 2.0 and a Renewed Chargers Lifeline

Quarterback Philip Rivers gave the San Diego Chargers new life with a three touchdown performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Photo Credit: J. Gaede
Quarterback Philip Rivers gave the San Diego Chargers new life with a three touchdown performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Photo Credit: J. Gaede

Yet Another NFL Tragedy

The NFL was rocked by Jovan Belcher’s murder-suicide a week ago. One week later the NFL is trying to piece together another one of its sons being lost to an unfortunate tragedy when Dallas Cowboys practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown was killed while riding in the car with his friend who was charged with manslaughter in his death.

The friend, Josh Brent, another member of the Dallas Cowboys, is the perpetrator of the drunk and driving mishap. But this isn’t an NFL thing. Like in the case of Belcher’s murder-suicide in which the Kansas City Chiefs linebacker shot and killed Kasandra Perkins before turning the weapon on himself, this is a societal issue. People who drive while drunk have taken many lives.

There’s a reason why we have organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD).

Many of those perpetrating this crime come from all walks of life and from all working backgrounds. Our society celebrates alcoholism. From the plastering of billboards that manifest themselves on city streets and highways to those nauseating TV commercials in between sporting events, we in society, particularly sports, have glamorized the art of drinking.

There are consequences when you do that. Looking at a professional football player’s callous mistake and targeting athletes as problematic is just plain simple thinking. Just like domestic violence and gun control, drunk driving is a society problem, not just an issue regulated to the NFL, NBA or Major League Baseball. If you recall, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim lost one of their star young pitchers a couple of years ago to a drunken driver after leaving the ballpark one night.

The sad thing about this particular case, NFL players have an out to call a service in case they are too intoxicated to drive. So there is no excuse for a professional athlete to drive drunk. Regular folks like you and I don’t have that privilege or luxury.  It makes no sense for a professional athlete like Brent not use the professional services handed to them so they won’t get into this kind of trouble.

The NFL, NBA and other sports provide these services to these athletes so they won’t find themselves in the predicament that Brent now finds himself in. But like in the case of the constitutional right to possessing a firearm, are we going to start telling football players and other professional athletes to stop drinking?

Those in the media have a responsibility to be careful when we speak on these issues. Did Bob Costas speak out about gun control when post office workers were going on murderous rampages with their weapons as he did after Belcher murdered his girlfriend before shooting himself in the head?

Did he say anything after the Virginia Tech mass murder shooting a couple of years ago? I don’t recall Costas saying anything about gun control after the Colorado movie theater shooting. As in this latest tragedy underscoring the problem of drunk driving, we in the media must look in the mirror first before we start pointing the fingers at others. We tend to judge athletes for what is really wrong in society as a whole.

Chargers Rising

Norv Turner and his San Diego Chargers were looking down and out for the count.  A lot of media pundits had already dismissed Turner, his coaching staff and the Chargers for the season before the Bolts took a flight to Pennsylvania to take on the vaunted Pittsburg Steelers.

Metta World Peace and the Los Angeles Lakers are struggling with the run-and-gun offense of new coach Mike D’Antoni. Photo Credit: J. Gaede

A fair weather Southern California team like the Chargers playing against the Men of Steel in the cold would seem like a mismatch in favor of the Steelers. Right? Wrong. Quarterback Philip Rivers and the Chargers gave it to the Steelers, handing Pittsburg an unexpected 34-24 beatdown at home, and it wasn’t that close.

Shaking off an up and down season, Rivers and the Chargers put together their best game of the year, smacking around Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers for their fifth win. San Diego’s stunning win may not be enough to turn their Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde season into a playoff-contention one, but it did show just how talented and good of a team the Chargers can be when they put everything together.

It also showed that on any given Sunday, any team can be beaten on any given day. So, after enduring a week of dousing fires in which rumors surfaced that Turner would be let go, and the Chargers denying those rumors, team San Diego walked the walk instead of talking the talk. Rivers, who completed three touchdown passes, and the Chargers’ potent scoring offense, went up one side of the Steelers defense and down the side of the other with ease.

At 5-8, the Chargers have a great opportunity to finish the year at the .500 mark. But they’ll have to go through Superman (Carolina’s Cam Newton), Tebowmania and the New York Jets and the black and silver of Raiders Nation to achieve that goal. If the Chargers can whip up on the Steelers the way they did, victory in the last three games look very attainable.

Lake Show Unplugged

Los Angeles Lakers fans wanted a change. No, they demanded a change at the head coaching position. They got what they wished for. Mike Brown got a year, some cash and got ran out of town after five games this season. Brown, the former Cleveland Cavaliers coach, was seen and perceived as not being the right fit for the Lakers by fans and some in the media. What the heck does that mean?  I have a theory about that, but I will keep that in my archives for now.

Anyway, Brown’s way of doing things was seen to be too boring, too methodical and too out-of-touch with the formula of past Lakers success. The Lakers and their fans wanted excitement. The Princeton offense, Brown was trying to incorporate with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and Co., simply wasn’t working out, especially going through a preseason without any wins and starting off the regular season 1-4.

That just wasn’t going to work in Lakerland. Enter run-and-shoot czar Mike D’Antoni, former coach of the Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks. The Lakers and their fans want to re-visit the era of Magic Johnson’s Showtime Lakers, which is why they hired D’Antoni over triangle maven Phil Jackson.

The problem with that concept is Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Byron Scott and A.C. Green were young studs instead of players with tons of mileage on them like Steve Nash, Gasol, Metta World Peace and Steve Blake. This is still a young man’s game, even if you have the great Kobe Bryant on your team. The Lakers will eventually figure it out by the time the postseason rolls around. By then it might be too late.


Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1176 Articles
Dennis covers the NFL (Chargers), NBA (Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers), Major League Baseball (Los Angeles Dodgers) and NCAA sports (USC, UCLA, Long Beach State). Dennis has also covered and written on topics such as civil rights, politics and social justice. Dennis is a proud alum of Howard University.