Life isn't fair.
That's a sentence I've said, make that screamed, more times than I'd care to admit. In fact today as I watched big sports story after big sports story break, knowing I wanted to take some down time before diving into blogging, I'm quite sure I muttered to Chewy (that's my 13 year old dog for those who don't know) "life's not fair."
Here's the thing. It isn't. My dad always told me that whenever I came to him with some injustice. It wasn't because he didn't care about my feelings, he just knew the sooner I accepted that life isn't fair, the sooner I could actually start to do something about it.
So here I am, doing something about it. In this case, writing.
To those who say Jonathan Vilma's punishment, a season long suspension, for his role in the bounty program isn't fair, what would be? How do you put a number on repeatedly breaking a rule BUT doing so under the guidance of your coordinator not to mention awareness by your head coach? Don't even bother trying to answer. You can't quantify that. Here's the thing "life isn't fair," move on from that. Look at the bigger issue. Commissioner Roger Goodell is trying to end programs like this. All the players I've talked with say they've existed to varying degrees from Pop Warner on up. If a year long suspension for a captain like Vilma doesn't make the rest of the league take notice, nothing will. Punishment is supposed to deter and this will deter. Should those in the coaching ranks and front office like head coach Sean Payton and GM Mickey Loomis have fared even worse than Vilma? They are "in charge," so I could make that argument, but don't forget this is pro sports. How many times have we seen players determine if a coach or GM stays? I've always heard "it's easier to change the coach than the player." To me, that means no matter who's higher up in title or job description, there's an awful lot of power in the player ranks. Power which brings responsibility with it and accountability. Doesn't seem right to you?
Like I said, life isn't fair.
You don't need to tell Junior Seau's family that. Not on a day when it's believed he took his own life leaving his mother weeping in front of camera's knowing she'll have to bury her son.
Life isn't fair.
You don't have to tell Eric LeGrand that either.
You know LeGrand, he's the former Rutgers star defensive lineman who back in 2010 was paralyzed while playing in college. I mean if anyone has reason to say life isn't fair, it would be that kid. From all accounts, he never even did. He did something about it: refocused himself instead of pitying himself. His positive attitude and endless energy a reminder of what you can do when you leave behind the "life's not fair" whine. Today LeGrand's former head coach, Greg Schiano, now head coach of the Tampa Bay Bucs did his part in undoing the "unfair," at least in a symbolic sense. Schiano announced LeGrand is joining the Bucs. In what would have been his draft year, LeGrand's being signed as a free agent, filling Tampa Bays final roster spot. Eric LeGrand has made it to the NFL, just as he'd once dreamed. It may not be the way he'd hoped to get into the league, he can't play, and other than keeping his already high spirits high this won't help him walk again. But it will do some good. From the interviews I saw, LeGrand plans on talking with his new teammates about his attitude, effort, and basically sharing his story as he has with so many others. If that doesn't have an impact on at least one of them, I'd be shocked. So LeGrand will be helping the Bucs, the way HE can. He will be a part of the team and any success they have as a team he can take some pride in.
I know these stories aren't related but I'm glad that on a day that had such large scale negative and sad news in sports, with the bounty punishments and the death of Junior Seau, we were reminded of the good. Life may not be fair but that doesn't mean it isn't full of reasons to be optimistic.