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Thursday, June 1, 2006

The Newest Privilege of the Living Legend

Something stinks about Roger Clemens returning to the Houston Astros for half a season. It’s not the $22 million (and $22 just to match his number). It’s not even the way he held up three or four franchises until he felt like playing, which Stephen A. Smith laid him out for in the Inquirer. Smith goes a bit too far, but just a bit.

Despite the stench of what Clemens, and Brett Favre by the way, is doing, putting your finger on exactly what’s so bad about it isn’t easy. He’s not the first to play one franchise against another, and forgive me if I don’t shed a tear for billionaire owners. In fact, the first unemotional thought that comes to mind is that if he can get away with it, more power to him. The same can be said of Favre.

The fact is no one had to woo Clemens. The fact is the Green Bay Packers can tell Favre to go pound sand. Whether Clemens is just too good to pass up, or whether cutting Favre is too much of a PR hit, is a decision the teams are free to make one way or another.

The problem is that this is the newest status symbol. It’s the newest way players are looking down on fans, the game, and kids. They’re even looking down on they’re teammates.

Call it the newest Privilege of the Living Legend.

They will decide when they commit to a season. They will be part of the team when they choose. In Clemens’ case, they’ll even attend games if and when they choose.

Owners will tolerate it because it will somehow make economic sense. Players will tolerate it because they like the precedent. The media will bemoan it, and eventually praise the players on another occasion, because that’s what they do. Fans will swallow it because that’s what we do.

Smith compared it to Iverson’s antics, asking, “Hey, Philadelphia! How should we feel about players who miss fan appreciation day when this kind of nonsense is allowed?”

We should hate it, because it’s the same thing on a different level. It’s players finding new ways to make themselves privileged, as if millions of dollars aren’t enough.

It stinks.

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