For years, common folks sitting at bar tables have dreamed about being professional athletes.
But what we fail to remember during these conversations are the things you don’t get to do when you’re a professional athlete instead of a ‘normal citizen.’
Because, believe it or not, it does go both ways. I’m not talking about the law, per se. That’s fairly black and white, and no one should break it whether you’re Norma Rae or Ray Lewis.
I’m talking about the idiotic, normal people decisions some professional athletes make that cause us peasant folk to sit back and say, “what the hell, man?”
Like this past weekend, when New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul got his hand caught in the proverbial cookie jar – almost blowing it off while lighting fireworks celebrating the 4th.
JPP didn’t injure himself doing something illegal, but he managed to become another example of a professional athlete injuring themselves in the most head-shaking way possible.
This isn’t a Plaxico Burress situation. Hell, this isn’t even a Jay Williams situation (every Bulls fan just collectively grew red in the face). Those guys made significant breaches to their contracts and felt the strict consequence.
But as trivial as it is, JPP is about to understand the burden of simply failing to take a step back and realize who he is. And more importantly, realizing who he isn’t. Celebrating the holiday by lighting off fireworks like the rest of us seems innocent, but when you have a $60 million offer on the table, you need to be minimizing risk.
And rolling up to the block with a U-Haul with enough fireworks to supply Navy Pier isn’t minimizing risk.
Categorically, this reminds me of when Tigers pitcher Joel Zumaya couldn’t throw heat anymore because he injured his wrist banging out too many ballads on Guitar Hero.
Or the multiple professional athlete DUI stories we get a year, like former NFLer Donovan McNabb’s this morning. Nobody should ever drive drunk, but when your average salary is in seven figures, there’s really no logical excuse to not buy a ride home.
I’m not mad at JPP, nor should anyone outside of over-obsessive Giants fans. More or less, we should be merely shaking our heads in a mild form of sarcastic disappointment.
The moral of the story is simple. While we sit back and laugh from our armchairs, in the back of our minds we know that guys like Jason Pierre-Paul are doing things we could never do.
But the not as obvious point, and something that seems to be lost on professional athletes is normal people being able to do stupid shit that they should never do. We always talk about how lucky people that get paid to play a game are, but rarely do we remember that a lack of responsibility has its benefits too.
Maybe it’s about time we did.