This week’s Haterade theme is all about egos. Athletes have them, and that comes as no surprise. These grown men are paid millions of dollars to catch, dunk and hit balls all day long. Fans rave over them, request autographs, buy jerseys, and feed their need for attention and fame with every breath. So it comes as no surprise when these highly paid, Prima Donna’s start getting their egos hurt.
Example #1 – Ken Griffey Jr.
Earlier in May, Ken Griffey Jr, one of my favorite baseball players as a kid, was benched in place of an up and coming youngster. Getting old is part of the game and there are only a handful of grizzled veterans can still be effective into their twilight years. With all of Ken’s injuries over the years, it comes as no surprise that his career would be cut a little short, but who would have ever thought that he would be the one to cut it short over something as trivial as playing time.
Let’s get this straight folks, retiring and quitting are two completely different things. People retire when they truly believe that they are done working. They’ve seen all they want to see, done all they want to do and have decided that its time to move on to a more relaxing part of life. Quitting is what you do when you don’t get along with your boss or you feel underappreciated. Ken Griffey Jr did not retire, ladies and gentlemen, he quit. This professional ball player, who was hailed as the next Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, you name it, walked away from the game because he lost his roster spot to a rookie. He didn’t try to work harder, spend more time in the cages, or anything else that ball players do to improve. No, he felt that his spot on the roster should be secure because, I mean, he’s Ken Griffey Jr. Well in today’s market that doesn’t cut it anymore.
Kids, DON’T EVER FEEL LIKE YOU’RE ENTITLED TO ANYTHING ON THE COURT OR ON THE FIELD! Just cause your brother was the starting shortstop and leadoff hitter for 4 years doesn’t guarantee you a roster spot on the Varsity squad. You can (and should) lose your spot to someone who works harder and outperforms you because that’s how it goes.
Example #2 – Reggie Wayne
Reggie Wayne ain’t gonna show up at the Colts Mini Camp this year…well at least not until they extend his contract. Normally I’m all for guys getting paid what they’re due – when the contract is up. Reggie has two years left on his deal, I mean, the ink is barely dry and he wants another one. Why do contracts have time frames in the first place? Is it so you know when you’re in the final year of a deal so you can play harder and get that free agent money? Or is it so you can walk into the owner’s office halfway through and cry about “being disrespected” and “not being paid what you’re worth.” Guess what buddy, you signed a deal for X amount of years and you should fulfill that contract. If you put your name to a contract that says you will play for 5 years, by golly you’d better play for all 5 of those years, and then talk about a new contract.
Reggie Wayne signed a long term deal because he was scared that if he didn’t ink something far into the future, that he could risk injury or a decline in performance and he wouldn’t be worth as much later on. But he has no right to hold out from minicamp just because he feels like he deserves more now. Nobody held a gun to his head and forced him to sign the contract (OK, maybe Marvin Harrison had a gun and just happened to be in the same room, but that’s neither here nor there). Athletes: respect your contracts and be confident that the skills that got you this far will continue to show in the future. And besides, its not like you have two more years with Matt Leinart or Jason Campbell throwing you the ball. You have Peyton Manning as your QB. Peyton can make two undrafted rookies look like potential pro-bowlers, so quit complaining, shut up, and play.
Example #3 – LeBron James
All the buzz this week has been about where LeBron will end up. Everyone has their two cents worth of opinion as to where LeBron should play, including President Obama (Wonder where he thinks James should play), but only LeBron knows for sure. And just like a Prima Donna, James is playing with everyone’s heads.
Instead of coming out publicly and stating where he wants to play, he is teasing and poking and prodding the media and fans alike with statements like “There’s one team that has the edge in my mind right now.” In fact, LeBron is playing with people’s heads so much, he’s giving team executives health problems. The GM of the Cavs has resigned. Apparently the pressure of the LeBron situation was too much for him to bear (quoted in the voice of Doc Holiday from “Tombstone”).
Look, you’re LeBron James, people are going to pay you pretty much whatever you want, and even if they don’t, I’m sure you could live off your Nike Endorsements for the rest of your life. So pick a team you think you can win with, a city you don’t mind staying in for 6 months out of the year, and a coach who will let you do whatever you want. Stop being a media black hole and let the sporting world focus on what really matters- the NBA Playoffs and the College World Series.