People are complex. They are not their stereotypes, and they are not only the bad things they do. Even the most habitual offenders of groupthink (usually stoners, hipsters, and, y’know, “thugs”) are, in nearly all instances, more than capable of a wide variety of views, emotions, and opinions.
Associations do matter, though, especially when single issues define a person. Thus we had to shake our heads in amazement when we heard about Donte Stallworth’s off-season conditioning. As you’re no doubt aware by now, Stallworth is about to serve a 30-day jail sentence after his DUI conviction in the death of Mario Perez, a sentence some feel is inappropriate to convey the gravity of Stallworth’s crime. Even after the likely substantial suspension imposed by the NFL after his jail time, Stallworth still has the opportunity to put together an NFL career for a few more years, and it’s important for him to stay in shape in the meantime.
So as he awaited sentencing, he was still out there running hills with… Plaxico Burress? Oh, good lord, really?
[Attorney David] Cornwell said Stallworth has been working out to assure he’ll be physically ready to go when cleared to return to the field. “Yesterday at dinner he was complaining that his hamstring was too tight because he was out running hills with Frank Gore, Fred Taylor and Plax […]. So he’s been working out,” Cornwell said.
We’re going to be charitable and give the two young men the benefit of the doubt for a moment here and try to think this out. It’s entirely plausible that, as is human nature, both Burress and Stallworth have realized what ludicrously bad choices they made and the ramifications of them. It’s easy to imagine that they’re using them as opportunities to better themselves, and even gaining a kinship from being personae non gratae in the league.
In fact, that seems much more likely than Plaxico being all “GUN GUN GUN STRIP CLUB” and Stallworth responding “DRINK DRINK DRIVE DRIVE” the entire time. Their bad acts - in theory - no more define them than the jerseys they wear 16 Sundays a year. While we’ve not met either Burress or Stallworth and certainly have no plans to do so, we’re just playing the odds on human behavior.
But doesn’t it also make sense that Stallworth may want to distance himself from those who have exhibited incredibly bad judgment while under the influence of alcohol rather than circle the wagons with some? Remember that Fred Taylor, by all accounts a decent fellow and NFL veteran, nearly found himself arrested outside Club Cristal during last year’s offseason.
Then again, we’re not here to make decisions for Plaxico or Donte or anyone else, just as they’re not to do so for us. We just really wish someone were in Donte’s ear, whispering that his image needs rehabilitation right now, especially with Roger Goodell peering over his (metaphorical) bifocals and waiting for the end of the jail sentence.