When Kyle asked me to author the first guest post during his vacation, I had already penned my pessimist's guide to the 2010 Georgia football season, and my 2010 SEC-and-World-Cup prediction, and I was honestly worried that I might not have a compelling topic about which to write. Sufficed to say, I had nothing to worry about. I now have no problem trying to find a topic.
Only a few short hours have passed since Damon Evans was arrested in the late hours of Wednesday night, and even fewer hours have passed since the news broke around lunch time Thursday morning. In that short time, however, we've seen emotions ranging to angry and distraught (mostly from Georgia fans) to mocking and disparaging (mostly from sorry, classless Gator fans. Have I ever told you how I feel about Florida?). MaconDawg's take on the situation was reasoned and well-thought-out, and since it was written only about 3 hours after the news broke, I conclude that he must be a heartless lawyer, capable of separating feelings and humanity from the reality of any situation. (You know, on second thought, this probably isn't the best venue, or time, to be disparaging lawyers, since a significant portion of the readership seems to fall into that category, and Damon will certainly need a good one...)
Personally, my first reaction when I heard the news was disbelief. Then, it registered, and I immediately transitioned into a mixture of anger, rage, and abject disappointment in Damon's choices. As of the time of this writing, it's not clear whether Evans will lose his job over this or not, but even if he doesn't, his credibility and image have suffered a hit that will not be easily repaired, if it ever can be.
There is no question that Damon's actions and choices were incredibly stupid, and exhibit some of the poorest of poor judgement ever seen. Do his actions, however, which could unravel a very successful 6-year career in one night and start into a descent one of the most profitable athletic departments of all time, fall into the realm of all-time stupidest actions ever taken? I was pondering that very question this past evening, and decided that I would pose the question and supporting evidence to you.Where do Damon Evans' actions fit in with the following?
Exhibit A: Damon Evans
The Subject: Damon Evans, Athletic Director at the University of Georgia
- The Offense: Arrested for DUI in Atlanta with a "mystery guest" in his passenger seat that may or may not have been a tranny hooker and Georgia Tech student. (Yay for starting rumors!)
Audiovisual Footage of the Incident: One of the worst (or best, depending on your perspective) celebrity DUI pics of all time.
The Aftermath: At this point, unknown. In a best case scenario, his credibility and image would be damaged, and he would successfully continue his job after a suspension and fine. In a worst case scenario, he would be fired, Michael Adams would replace him with a money-grubbing, pencil-pushing, bean-counting yes-man... and you don't even want to start thinking about how things could go downhill from there.
Exhibit B: Woody Hayes
- The Subject: Woody Hayes, Winningest Head Coach of all time at The Ohio State University
- The Offense: In the fourth quarter of the 1978 Gator Bowl, the Buckeyes were driving down the field for a game-winning field goal, and were within striking distance. Charlie Bauman, a nose guard for Clemson, then intercepted an Art Schlichter pass and ran it back to the Clemson 36-yard-line, where Coach Hayes just happened to be standing. When the Clemson player stood up, the notoriously-volatile Hayes grabbed Bauman's shoulder pads and threw a punch which landed at a point between the player's helmet and shoulder pads (i.e. his neck), then proceeded to apparently try to choke him. Hayes had to be physically separated from the Clemson player, and a brawl started that cleared the benches on both sides of the field.
- Audiovisual Footage of the Incident: One of the most famous clips of all time, and it's even now on YouTube with the Ohio State fight song, for extra rubbing-nose-in-the-dirt-ishness:
- The Aftermath: The immediate result was that the Buckeyes were charged with two 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, and Woody Hayes was ejected from the game that Ohio State then lost 17-15. Before the day was over, Ohio State had fired Woody Hayes, and one of the best NCAA coaches of all time had his hall of fame career cut short because he couldn't control his urge to beat the hell out of someone when his team lost. (Welcome to the lives of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of SEC football fans, Woody.) Ohio State would go from winning 7 conference championships in 8 years to winning 7 in the next 20. Not Vanderbilt territory, but it certainly was a step down from "great" to "just good."
Exhibit C: Tonya Harding
- The Subject: Tonya Harding, U.S. National Women's Figure Skating Champion, 1994
- The Offense: Ms. Harding conspired with her ex-husband and bodyguard to hire a hitman to break the legs of her rival figure skater, Nancy Kerrigan, before the national championships in 1994. The attack on Kerrigan only bruised her leg, not breaking it, so both Kerrigan and Harding ended up on the 1994 Olympic team in Lillehammer. (Now that's an awkward team bus.)
- Audiovisual Footage of the Incident: I'll spare you, because we all remember the, "Whyyyyyyy? Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy? yelping of Nancy Kerrigan grating on our ears like a vuvuzela on a World Cup telecast. Instead, just a simple picture:
The Aftermath: The world finally found out that tiny little figure skaters are not all little graceful giggling teenagers. Tonya Harding outed herself as the morally-flexible trailer-trash that she is, choked at the Olympics, and launched a fantastic career of celebrity boxing and sex-tape-making.
Exhibit D: Rafael Palmeiro
The Subject: Rafael Palmeiro, the 4th baseball player in history to have over 500 home runs and 3000 hits, in addition to three Gold Gloves and 4 All-Star appearances.
- The Offense: Using steroids less than 5 months after he told a United States Congressional Committee, "I have never used steroids, period," while gesticulating in an emphatic manner.
Audiovisual Footage of the Incident: Sadly, none of the actual drug use (which could have cleared this whole mess up), but we do have this:
The Aftermath: Even though he was caught red-handed, Palmeiro still continues a Pete Rose-esque steroid denial to this day. Nevertheless, the rest of the world (which does worry about pesky little things like "evidence" and "lying") has mercilessly "conspired" against him to make sure he never plays baseball again, and that despite his hall-of-fame career, he will never actually be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Exhibit E: Zinedine Zidane
- The Subject: Zinedine Zidane, one of the best soccer players of all time.
- The Offense: During the 2006 World Cup final France and Italy had fought hard, dived hard, and for once, the French hadn't surrendered in an important battle against a determined and powerful foe. In the 110th minute of the match (that's the 20th minute of extra time), and seemingly out of nowhere, Zidane headbutted Italy's Marco Materazzi so hard that, for once, he didn't have to dive to draw a card against an opposing player.
Audiovisual Footage of the Incident: The World Cup final is one of the most videotaped and photographed sports events in the world. Ergo:
The Aftermath: France's greatest football player ever, and one of the best of all time, was red-carded and ejected from the most important match in which a player can ever hope to take part. France went on to lose the final to Italy on penalty kicks, and for the rest of time, Zinedine Zidane will be known by all but the most zealous of soccer fans as "the guy who headbutted another guy and got ejected in a World Cup final." Not, "that guy who helped France win their first (and possibly second) World Cup." Not a man that was one of the best players Juventus or Real Madrid will ever have, who scored a game-winning goal in both a Champions League Final (2002) and a World Cup Final (1998). Not the man who was voted "Best European footballer of the previous 50 years" in 2004. Nope... he's the guy who earned himself a lifetime of disgrace and dishonor for attacking another player like it was a
WWF WWEUFC match in the freakin' World Cup Final.
There have been many other examples of incredibly poor decision-making, but there are the first few that sprang to my mind. How does Evans' indescretion compare among these other incredibly stupid decisions that tarnished a sports figure's career and image forever? Or can you think of another that's worse?