Matt Slocum The Associated Press Riley Cooper (14) rejoined his Eagles teammates after a four-day excused absence to undergo sensitivity training.


A number of today's athletes are ... ?

Leading Off: There's more to it than right and wrong

Published: Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Monday, Aug. 12, 2013 - 7:28 am

The widely divergent actions of Aaron Hernandez, Alex Rodriguez, Riley Cooper and Johnny Manziel that have dominated headlines recently makes you think: What's unforgivable behavior to a potential employer and fan base, and what's just boys being boys (sorry ladies, the vast majority of you just aren't devious enough) in judging character?

Some perspective: Lawrence Phillips was a fantastic running back in the mid-1990s for Nebraska, where he was arrested for assaulting his ex-girlfriend during his junior year and briefly suspended from the team.

In the 1996 NFL draft, the St. Louis Rams took Phillips sixth overall, which, considering the regard in which Phillips' skills were held, was considered a free fall attributable to character issues.

Phillips was a flop in four years as a professional football player and is now five years into a 31-year prison sentence for assault with a deadly weapon and domestic assault, among other crimes.

There are two kinds of men – those who will hit a woman and those who won't. What Phillips did in college wasn't impetuous youth; it was early exposure of a permanent character flaw. The Rams and the teams that later hitched their wagons to Phillips, the 49ers included, got what they deserved – a bad guy they paid a lot of money.

It seems that murder, sexual assault/domestic battery and drug trafficking are "red flag, run as fast as you can in the opposite direction because the person who did this is not redeemable" acts. Or should be. Gambling on your sport, too, as Pete Rose will tell you.

Everything and everybody else, from gun crimes to assault, from Michael Vick to Tiger Woods, from Rodriguez's conscious decision to cheat to Cooper's social ignorance to Manziel's stupidity and greed can be rationalized. Especially if they can hit a game-winning homer or get four yards on third and three.

What to do

Baseball, Milwaukee at Giants, 12:45 p.m., CSNBA: Do something Ryan Braun can't: Attend a game drug-free.

What to watch

NFL preseason, Denver at 49ers, 6 p.m., Ch. 13: If you miss the first quarter, you'll miss the relevant part.

Today's poll

A number of today's athletes are … ?

• Progressively deceitful and lack accountability.

• No different than always, just more public.

Vote above or leave your comments in the comments field; or go to

Tuesday's poll results

Why do so many Latin American ballplayers use PEDs?

• For big contracts: 48%

• To support family back home: 11%

• Poor decisions: 21%

• Lack of education: 20%

Total votes: 280

Call The Bee's Steve Pajak, (916) 326-5526.

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