Yes, Pete Rose Hall of Fame eligibility-deniers, Major League Baseball’s Rule 21 (d) is known by every player and manager. It is posted in every team’s clubhouse, and the rule is quite clear. Plus, it is also evident that Rose violated said rule by betting on baseball. But is the sin of an addiction to betting any worse than the unconscionable behavior of athletes who have committed criminal and violent acts?
Though Rose did bet on games and violated Rule 21 (d), unfortunately it’s not as black and white as many might like. While Rose’s gambling is viewed in a modern context with the terribly unscrupulous, totally irresponsible, criminal and often violent actions of those making their living playing a sport, what he did in comparison makes gambling look like a minor offense. In addition, his lifetime bar for being an addict makes MLB appear stodgy and stuck in the past.
The 1919 World Series scandal perpetuated by members of the Chicago White Sox DID nearly ruin the game. Members of the team, dubbed the “Black Sox,” were vulnerable to invitations to throw games by gamblers controlled by organized crime because the players made very little money at that time. That’s how any sports figure is convinced to throw a game, a fight, race or any other competitive event.
Modern athletes, however, are in a much different financial position. Though Rose was rumored to be connected to shadowy underworld characters like Staten Island bookies and organized crime figures and his actions did occur while he was making more than a decent living, he only really hurt himself through succumbing to his addition.
In contrast, the actions of the following five NFL football players listed below were mostly premeditated, violent or completely irresponsible. And these criminal actions were perpetuated by men who have mostly been accepted back into football. Even a casual look into the incidents surrounding these five NFL stars reveals just how much modern athletes get away with today.
Infamous for perpetuating and financing “Bad Newz Kennels” in rural Virginia, Vick was at the head of a dog-fighting operation that also involved drugs and gambling on the animals. As in most operations of the sort, underperforming dogs didn’t get to stay around and were routinely executed by hanging or drowning for losing matches. Vick served 21 months in prison for the heinous 2007 crimes and was welcomed back in to the league in 2009 — and even won The Associated Press 2010 NFL Comeback Player of the Year award.
In 2009, the former NFL wide receiver, while driving a Bentley Continental GT intoxicated and over the legal limit, struck and killed a pedestrian who was finishing a work shift as a crane operator in Miami. Stallworth hit the man at 7:15 a.m. and was driving at least 10 mph over the speed limit. For this good citizenry, The Huffington Post later rewarded Stallworth with a full-time, six-month writing fellowship covering national security and politics.
Last May, the NFL defensive end violently assaulted his partner Nicole Holder. Hardy appealed the conviction and was placed on the ineligible list despite continuing to draw game checks from his $13 million salary. Ultimately charges were dismissed against Hardy because Holder skipped the appeal hearing. He was never locked up for pushing her, throwing her in a tub and onto a couch covered with assault rifles and shotguns. He was actually rewarded with another multi-million contract from the Dallas Cowboys this year to continue playing football.
This badly behaving former NFL defensive end has had multiple appearances in handcuffs. In 1998, Little, like Stallworth, also struck and killed someone while driving drunk and intoxicated at twice the legal limit. Other legal run-ins include making threats to a former girlfriend and driving 20 mph above the speed limit on an interstate while again intoxicated.
ADAM “PACMAN” JONES
After he “made it rain” in 2007 — the act of tossing bills at exotic dancers usually done at a gentlemen’s club — in Las Vegas, this multiple-time offender got upset one stripper began to pick up the money without his permission. Jones grabbed the woman by the hair and then slammed her head onto a stage. In the ensuing melee, former professional wrestler Tommy Urbanski was shot and paralyzed from the waist down. In an unsuccessful effort to distance himself from this troubled past, in 2008, Jones publicly asked that he no longer be referred to by his nickname. More successfully, in 2010 Jones reentered the NFL and signed a two-year deal with the Cincinnati Bengals. He re-upped with Cincinnati in 2013 with a three-year deal that he has yet to royally screw up to this point.
So tell me again why Rose should never be forgiven?
Noah Zuss is a reporter for TheBlot Magazine.