The Breakdown: Serious stuff
September 18, 2010
Death isn’t something to joke about; it’s a serious matter that deeply affects a lot of people. That being said, writing a light-hearted column about someone who was thought to be dead (and wasn’t) seems like fair game to me.
Last week, it was reported that three-time NHL coach of the year Pat Burns had died. As is often the case these days, this started with a friend of his – who works for the Toronto Maple Leafs – getting word about his passing and mentioning it to the media.
Within hours, word had spread across media outlets and was posted on numerous websites, not to mention thousands of Twitter accounts.
Some online publications even wrote his obituary.
The problem was Burns wasn’t dead.
(Tangent: Wouldn’t it be kind of cool to see your own obituary while you were still alive? I mean, how many people get the opportunity to see something like that? It would be pretty interesting to see what people thought of you, or at least how they would sum up your life. You know, unless it turns out everyone hated you or, even worse, simply didn’t care. On second thought, maybe it wouldn’t be so great.)
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Now, I guess it should be explained that Burns does have what’s been reported as “incurable lung cancer.” (He also recovered from both colon and liver cancer in the past.) Still, Burns didn’t find the news funny, especially after having to explain to family members that he was, in fact, still alive.
“I’m not dead, far (expletive) from it,” he said to one outlet.
Anyway, all of this near-death, er, fake-death stuff got me thinking: There are many people in pro sports that – as far as their relevance in their sport goes – are dead and simply don’t realize it yet. Really, it’s probably pretty hard to admit that you’re toast as a pro athlete. They dedicate their entire lives to one goal, one dream, and suddenly, someone else is telling you it’s over.
So, in honor of this bone-headed blunder by some media types, I’ve come up with my All-Pat-Burns Team – a list of athletes whose careers are over but just don’t know it. Enjoy.
Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Sure, “Money” Mayweather will still fight and even win, but boxing in today’s sports world is more about selling the fight than winning it. With his recent foray into self-filmed reality TV and his numerous domestic charges against an ex-girlfriend, Mayweather isn’t so money anymore. If anything, his remaining ability actually works against him, as most people would only pay to see his teeth get knocked in, not see him win.
Manny Ramirez. Maybe it was playing on a couple lackluster teams this year or maybe it was his unsuccessful attempts at pregnancy, but “Manny being Manny” has started to mean whiffing at pitches over the plate and failing to show any kind of power. He still doesn’t have a homer in Chicago after nearly 50 at-bats, and, even worse, he doesn’t have a single RBI. Someone will probably sign him next year, but as far as being an elite hitter (or even just a solid one), those days are over. At least he has his fielding to fall back on.
LeBron James. He’ll still be an elite player, win some MVPs, maybe even get a title or two, but for an athlete who only talks about being the best ever – and wears his own “LBJ MVP” T-shirt – he will never be the same. Between his one-hour abomination of a special on ESPN and the fact he joined Dwayne Wade’s team, no one will ever consider him as anything more than a top-rate second banana.
Also making the list (but ran out of room to explain thoroughly): golfer Vijay Singh, 49ers QB Alex Smith (although he might actually realize it), Chargers coach Norv Turner, Cowboys coach Wade Phillips and the entire WNBA.
And I’m sure every one of these people feel that this is not something to joke about, either.
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