@#$&^@$!!!!!!! I’m sure that pretty much captures how most of Steeler Nation reacted when they found out that Santonio Holmes had been pulled over by police and was found to have marijuana cigars in his car (as well as the smell of recently smoked marijuana). To make matters worse, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has suspended Holmes for Sunday’s crucial game against the NFC East leading New York Giants. #$@%&#!!!!!
Sunday’s game is probably the toughest and most important game on the Steelers schedule so far this season. It pits two division leaders with identical 5-1 records. Both teams need a victory to cement their place among the NFL’s elite teams.
I’m sure that Coach Tomlin has reiterated the importance of this game to his team, and he’s probably made certain that they are prepared for the battle ahead. He probably expected his players to take his motivational speeches to heart, and to use whatever method they required to prepare themselves for the game. However, he probably didn’t expect any of his players to use the “big Jamaican blunt” method of preparation. Nor did he probably expect any of his players to find themselves on the wrong side of the law this week. Santonio Holmes did both.
In some ways, we can’t blame Santonio. Afterall, this isn’t his first time being on the wrong side of the law. His life experience has taught him that if you are a talented athlete, all you get for breaking laws and violating societal norms, is a slap on the wrist. That has probably been re-enforced to him since he was in high school. Coaches have probably let him get away with things that non-players would have never been able to do without repercussions. Teachers have probably given him grades that he didn’t deserve. Recruiters have probably offered him money under the table. And then we wonder why these guys turn out badly. They are the monsters that we create.
I’m not saying that Santonio Holmes is a bad guy, or that he is in the same category as Jeffrey Dahmer. He’s not. But in fact, Santonio and so many other athletes are given a free pass that normal citizens are not provided. Would anyone be surprised if they heard that Santonio really had a much larger quantity of drugs on him than the reports have indicated, but that the police doctored their report in order to keep Santonio from getting in trouble? I’m not saying that events occurred like that. I’m just pointing out that in Pittsburgh, Steelers players are treated like gods, and Santonio Holmes would not be the first player that was given a pass by Steelers fans in blue.
It wasn’t long ago that two Steelers players got in trouble for domestic violence against women. Cedrick Wilson, a borderline wide receiver, was cut for his transgressions. Meanwhile James Harrison, a pro bowl linebacker, was given a slap on the wrist for a similar offense. What athletes learn is that the better they perform on the field, the more willing society becomes to turn a blind eye towards their transgressions. In fact, if they perform well enough, they can get away with just about anything. Drugs, violence, infidelity, and other indiscretions are ignored, so long as the athletes continues to perform on the field.
At some point, professional athletes need to be held accountable for their misdeeds. If not, they never learn the lesson that most of us learn in kindergarten; follow the rules, boys and girls.
Santonio has to learn that he hasn’t just let himself down. He’s let down his family. His mom can’t feel very good each time she hears that her son has gotten into trouble (again). He’s let down all of the kids who look up to him as a hero and a role model. He’s let down all of his teammates who were depending on him to perform in this game that means so much to the team. And he’s let down the legions of Steelers fans who support him, and who probably allow the Steelers’ performance to play a much bigger role in dictating their emotional well-being than they probably should.
It’s time to grow up, Santonio. You’re an adult now, and people depend on you. You have been blessed with the opportunity to play a game that you love, and to make millions of dollars for doing so. That is not to be taken lightly. Hopefully, Roger Goodell will deem the Steelers’ one game suspension to be adequate punishment, and he won’t dole out additional punishment of his own. If so, consider yourself lucky, and learn from this experience.
On Sunday, the Steelers will face the New York Giants in their most difficult test thus far this season. They will need every player to perform at their best in order to win. Unfortunately, one player let them down before the first whistle even blew. Curse you, Santonio!
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