Warren Sapp, Allen Iverson, and the Tragedy of the Riches-to-Rags Athlete

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Hampton,

Show me a guy who is sorry for Sapp, Iverson, and all the other broke athletes out there, and I'll say: "Nice to meet you, Mitt!" Seriously, though, there's not much of a debate to be had on whether we should feel bad for athletes who make ludicrous sums of money (as opposed to, say, a teacher or any public employee) and then squander their riches through a combination of naivete and idiocy. I'll let Denny Green speak for me here.



But let's not contain our head-shaking to the fiscally irresponsible, Hampton. What of Bobby Petrino, a real-life weasel coach (copyright Gregg Easterbrook) who was fired by Arkansas on Wednesday after allegedly hiring his mistress as an athletic department staffer and lying to the university about it? Petrino, who bolted for Arkansas midway through his first season as coach of the Atlanta Falcons and famously informed the players with a farewell note left in their lockers, deserves every bit of scorn we can heap on him. Hopefully, no college or pro team will call his number again.

Then there's Ozzie Guillen, perhaps the only sports figure currently in the public hot seat whom I feel sorry for. Guillen, coach of the Miami Marlins (who just opened a new stadium in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami) said in a Time magazine interview earlier this year: "I love Fidel Castro. I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that son of a bitch is still there."

Yes, Guillen—who was suspended five games by the team—said literally the worst thing he could say as manager of a franchise desperate for support from local Cuban-American community. And what he said was undeniably reprehensible—far too many lives have been ruined (and taken) by Castro to ever say a kind word about the man. That said, Ozzie was more than likely just "being Ozzie", popping off about a subject he knows nothing about it because it's all part of his "colorful" personality.

Perhaps I'm naive to think that Guillen didn't understand the ramifications of his little half-joke while he was saying it. But he presses my sympathy bone more than Petrino or Sapp, the latest version of Latrell "$8 million a year isn't enough to feed my family" Sprewell.

What of it, Patrick? Where do your sympathies (or condemnations) lie?

–Jake

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Patrick Hruby, Jake Simpson, and Hampton Stevens 

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