By Tom Quiner
Our celebrities and “heroes” have abandoned these virtues.
One of the great baseball players of the past generation was Pete Rose, aka “Charlie Hustle.” Mr. Rose didn’t have the physical gifts of many of his contemporaries. He compensated by working harder and out-hustling the other guy.
His hard work paid off. He ended up getting more hits than any other baseball player in history.
Upon retirement as a player, he became a darn good major league manager. And then he broke our collective hearts. Allegations were leveled that he wagered on baseball games.
This is baseball’s cardinal sin. Gambling almost destroyed the sport in 1919. Every single baseball player knows that if he is caught gambling on baseball, he will be banned from the sport for life.
Rose denied the charges. But baseball’s commissioner at the time, the late Bart Giamatti, saw all the evidence.
It was damning.
It was incontrovertible.
He booted Rose out of baseball for life.
Rose was unrepentant and stood by his innocence for another couple of decades, until finally ‘fessing.
He admitted he had lied all along.
We have a similar situation today with biking great, Lance Armstrong. He was stripped of all of his Tour de France biking titles for using and distributing illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
He denied the allegations for years. Now he’s set to go on Oprah’s show next week to make a full confession to the world that he did cheat, that he is in fact a liar.
We have other sports greats who trampled on the lofty ideals of class, honor, dignity. Barry Bonds comes to mind. So does Roger Clemens.
How about O.J. Simpson?
How about Tiger Woods?
And in the world of entertainment, we see top stars such as Madonna and Lady Gaga who hold up sluttiness as the ideal to which young girls should aspire.
I mention the celebrities above because of a behind-the-scenes incident that took place on Saturday in Denver.
The Baltimore Ravens defeated the Denver Broncos in a thrilling double-overtime playoff game. Legendary Raven’s linebacker, Ray Lewis, has announced his retirement from the game. Petyon Manning is the legendary quarterback for the Broncos.
Manning lost Saturday’s big game by making a bad throw in overtime. (In fairness, football is a team sport, but Mr. Manning’s inopportune interception led to the winning field goal for the Ravens.)
Mr. Manning has won big games before. He’s lost even more.
In every loss, he is gracious.
In every loss, he will face the media.
In every loss, he responds with class and dignity. He honors his profession, his teammates, his city, his family, his church, and his fans by modeling class and dignity in the face of disappointment.
Do you know what he did after what was perhaps the most bitter defeat of his amazing career?
He got cleaned up. He put on a crisp suit.
He gathered his wife and 21 month old son, Marshall, and headed to the Baltimore locker room.
He wanted to say goodbye to his old nemesis, Ray Lewis, whom he would never meet on the field of competition again.
Manning had beaten Lewis’ team nine times in a row. Lewis and the Ravens stuck it to Manning this time in a miraculous, come-from-behind thriller of a game.
There are no grudges with Manning.
He never, ever, blames anyone but himself for a loss.
He did something we don’t see all that much anymore: he was a good sport in the face of defeat.
He demonstrated class and dignity by honoring Ray Lewis for his standout career.
He swooped up Marshall in his arms and had his photo taken with Ray.