In sports, everyone is a winner—some people just win better than others. Like the Karacter Kops determined to prove that the mother of a newly minted professional football player is, while not a hooker, still a very bad person.
OK, it was bad enough that Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland asked the question in the first place. I don't care how many hack sportswriters come tumbling out of the woodwork with their ludicrous exegeses of the question's Context — it was a galactically stupid thing to ask, and the great, tortured lengths that people have gone to justify it are a measure of how much casual dehumanization we've come to tolerate in the NFL. (Jeff Ireland is in the business of paying enormous human beings to obliterate other enormous human beings, and if that puts him on a higher moral plane than a woman who may or may not have turned to prostitution to support herself, then I'm Cotton Mather.)
You know what's worse, though? This. And this. The Dez Bryant story has now officially gotten out of hand. Who the hell cares if his mom — whose saga has been told many, many times — got popped last year for dealing crack cocaine? What bearing does that have on her son's ability to catch footballs for a living? And for that matter, where are all the useful idiots who think that it does but sort of in a good way? The people who never tire of talking about adversity and tenacity and how, because a football player grew up eating government cheese, he now has the steely desire and fortitude to go high over the middle? I see no shortage of adversity and tenacity in the story of a kid born to a 15-year-old girl who soon turns to dealing drugs and eventually comes out as a lesbian in the buckle of the Bible Belt — "a change in his mother's sexual orientation," as the Dallas Morning News put it, coughing into its hand — and who evidently still can't quite put the old life behind her. So where's ESPN and all those soft-focus lenses? Where's the Rick Reilly column? [UPDATE: And here it is.]
This is Roger Goodell's NFL. Ireland certainly deserves all the scorn he's gotten, but he was simply acting in concert with a league that thinks of itself now as the Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Virtue and Chop-Blocking. I get that. What I don't get is this coterie of sportswriters who fall all over themselves to carry the league's water. (And that's precisely what's happening here. The character of Dez Bryant's mom is immaterial except to those people determined to make an NFL GM look a little less like Mr. Potter. These latest stories say — sotto voce, of course — that maybe Ireland's question wasn't so misguided after all.) Goodell is free to run his league however he wishes, but that doesn't mean the people who cover it have to accept its toy morality. I can think of a word for the sportswriters who do: whores.