Speed Read: Phelps Gets Free Pass In Bong Flap?

It’s been a few days since the whole Michael Phelps bong-gate exploded onto the scene, and the reaction has been overwhelmingly this: So?

Michael Phelps

(”Dude, I think I’m seeing robots”)

Well, now some people are wondering why it is exactly that everyone is giving Phelps a pass, especially the sponsors who pay him millions to represent their brands. This is a guy who was arrested for DUI in 2004 and now has been shown in public using an illegal drug (whether or not the drug should be illegal or the level of outrage that pot use should inspire is not the issue here). And it’s not like sponsors were overly harsh about this. If anything, they’ve been downright supportive.

The WASHINGTON POST’S Michael Wilbon isn’t really having it, and wrote a column critical of Phelps’ defenders that, to his credit, wasn’t filled with hyperbolic overreaction to the pot use itself:

There should be zero tolerance for (drinking and driving), and Phelps doesn’t get a pass for that, nor for his bong hit. The latter, in and of itself, certainly isn’t heinous. But it is stupid, given what’s at stake. And everybody excusing it, Sally, doesn’t help Phelps get the message that he’d better be careful and vigilant. Being granted a pass at every turn usually breeds a sense of being bulletproof, as we saw in the much more serious case of Michael Vick, who actually squandered $100 million or more. And Phelps isn’t cast in the role of bad boy or tough guy. His marketing representatives have set him up to be the guy who walks the straight-and-narrow. 

The DETROIT FREE-PRESS’ Drew Sharp makes a comparison between Phelps and Santonio Holmes, who was suspended for a game after being arrested for marijuana possession:

According to the police report, Holmes was cooperative and contrite. He wasn’t belligerent. He readily owned up to his mistake.

Holmes admitted to the Miami Herald a few days before the Super Bowl that as a teenager he sold drugs on a street corner near his Florida home. He thought it was time that he publicly acknowledged the poor decisions of his youth.

Maybe it would serve as an example to others at that age doing the same things because they don’t believe there’s a lawful alternative to changing their lives.

Applying the new Phelps standard for decorum when busted, shouldn’t Holmes get a free pass because he has fully acknowledged his sins and appears repentant?

Speaking of Holmes, he thanks all of us for the new $85,000 Escalade he was given by Cadillac for winning the Super Bowl MVP. He got to choose the Cadillac he wanted, and of course he picked the most expensive one…that is being subsidized by tax money.

santonio holmes catch

A couple of months ago, I made the now ridiculous claim that North Carolina might win all of their basketball games this year. And even though I was off there, why have the Heels suddenly fallen off the radar? Sure, they lost two games, but there’s no indication that they are no longer the most talented team in the country. They’ve fought their way back up to the #3 ranking again and blasted Maryland 108-91 last night at the Dean Dome. UNC and Duke play their first of three games (because, let’s be honest, they’re playing each other in the ACC final) a week from tonight.

Manny Ramirez has turned down the Dodgers’ one-year offer of $25 million. Frank McCourt says he still wants Manny back, but concedes that eventually they’ll have to move on (perhaps to Adam Dunn and others). If talks fall through in L.A., who’s left? San Francisco seems to be the only other team willing to enter the discussion, now that Brian Cashman has said that the Yankees are done spending.

What started out as a bad day for Ray Allen ended pretty well for him. Allen buried a 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds left to beat the 76ers 100-99 in Philly for the Celtics’ 12th win in a row. The BOSTON GLOBE reports that Allen had flu symptoms during the day, including chills and a nosebleed — but then made a miraculous recovery after a “steamy” shower and a nap. To top it off, Jameer Nelson’s dislocated shoulder opened a spot on the All-Star team — one that may be filled by Allen, who scored 28 points in last year’s game as a replacement.

Ray Allen

• The NEW YORK DAILY NEWS is now reporting that the substance Barry Bonds tested positive for in the sample seized by federal agents is in fact “The Clear.” If this is true, then we’ve really learned nothing because Bonds has already admitted to taking the substance. So much for that smoking gun.

• The DAILY MAIL says that David Beckham needs to stay in Europe to have any chance of playing for England in the 2010 World Cup, because coming back to MLS would apparently make him regress as a player so much as to become completely worthless in international competition.

AC Milan fan

(This Milan fan might be willing to convince Becks to stay in Europe)

• After weeks of searching for someone else (anyone else, really) to coach the team, the Raiders have finally just given up and brought back Tom Cable to get fired in October, according to the PRESS DEMOCRAT.

• Seems that the NBA has been listening to Bill Simmons, as they’ve started up a H-O-R-S-E competition for All-Star weekend. Participants TBA.

• HOME RUN DERBY brings us this video of a guy who made a portrait of Cal Ripken out of thumb tacks. My Lite-Brite Rob Deer suddenly seems so much less impressive.

Kevin Costner is bringing a big-budget, but ultimately disappointing, minor-league baseball team to Zion, Illinois, according to CBS SPORTSLINE.

• IT’S METS FOR ME congratulates Omar Minaya for bidding against himself to sign Oliver Perez for $36 million when it looked like nobody else was prepared or willing to offer him anywhere near that much. In other news, the Mets are out of the Manny Ramirez sweepstakes.

• FOX NEWS BUSINESS is saying that some in Congress are pressuring Citigroup to pull out of its $400 million naming-rights deal with the Mets for their new stadium. No, it has nothing to do with money. It’s so that we all don’t have to be subjected to this god-awful logo anymore:

Citi Field

At least the Mets still have all that money Bernie Madoff’s been taking care of for them.

• If you’re going to come out of the stands to attack a referee, you probably should make sure the guy isn’t also a state trooper. Patrick Rempala didn’t do his homework, and now is charged with battery and resisting arrest after attacking the trooper/ref at a high school game in Indiana, so says the AP.

• A Manchester United supporter riding a bus home from Man U’s road win over West Bromwich really needed to pee, so he decided to go to the bathroom in the back of the bus. Unfortunately, he didn’t know the lay of the bus very well, because he opened the emergency exit, fell out, and then was hit and killed by a car. The guy was drunk, of course. UPI has the story.

What do you think of the reaction by media and sponsors to Michael Phelps’ pot smoking?

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