Edited by: Tommy Parrill (@DearTommy)
For as long as I can remember, I have been enamored with sports. The thrill of the game and the passion of the fans was enough for me to get hooked. Due to that love, I naturally idolized professional athletes. Always being the big guy, I looked up to the husky individuals in sports like Shaquille O’Neal, C.C. Sabathia and my personal favorite fatty, Mo Vaughn. So far, those athletes haven’t disappointed me, but I’ll admit that I fell for the Tiger Woods “golden boy” stunt and even thought Tony Parker was a decent human being. Looking back on it, I should’ve expected those players to disappoint, but it was this latest story that through me for a loop.
When I first started watching the NFL back in the early 2000’s, I quickly became a fan of the players that didn’t showboat at every waking moment but rather went out every Sunday, did their job well and didn’t give the media a story to blow out of proportion. One of those players was former Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver, Jimmy Smith. Smith retired as the most successful receiver in Jaguars history and ended his career as one of the best receivers in NFL history. It is safe to say that I was a Jimmy Smith fan. Then today, I read a story that Jimmy Smith is currently serving time in the Mississippi Department of Corrections on weapons charges and the possession of cocaine. For the next six years of his life, Jimmy Smith will no longer have a teammate, but a cellmate instead. To my surprise, Smith was already a convicted felon and his possession of a firearm didn’t help his case. During his playing days, Smith had a few DUI’s, but honestly, who in sports hasn’t? Hell, Shin-Soo Choo even got busted on a DUI after celebrating following a victory over the Chicago White Sox. I still think Choo is an amazing player, but I have learned that even the Korean Krusher has his flaws. Going back to Smith, he had started to get back on the right track with helping charities and attempting to do the right thing, and then this happens. The moral of this story is that you can watch the athletes play their respected sport, buy their jersey and even root for them, but never put them on a higher level than you.
I don’t care how much money they make or what kind of television time they get on a regular basis, they are still humans just like you and me. Do I think that they should watch their behavior because they are in the public eye, absolutely, but realistically, athletes are still people, and people make mistakes and really stupid decisions. I thought that Jimmy Smith was one of the “good guys” in football, but apparently that wasn’t the case. It is amazing to think that a one time elite receiver is now sharing a shower in a different way, but all in all, he dug his grave and now he will lay in it. When you have it all, you would think that you would want to keep it that way, but after stupidity by Bonds, Smith and many other athletes out there, bad behavior should be expected by now.
For all of you parents out there don’t let your children look up to professional athletes. There are some athletes that are good people and will prove the consensus wrong, but they are few and far between. I learned my lesson long ago with Tiger, and was reminded today by Jimmy Smith, but remind all of the young minds out there that anything is possible, both good and bad.