Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Road to Glory Not One-Way Street

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Road to Glory Not One-Way Street

Article excerpt

How many times does someone get on a soapbox about all the perks and special privileges athletes are given just because they can hit a baseball or sack a quarterback? Maybe it's a teacher who gives them a favorable grade to stay eligible. Maybe it's a professional team offering a contract to someone who belongs in drug rehabilitation more than Robert Downey Jr.

And it's true. Athletes who make a name for themselves do receive preferred status in many everyday situations that go unnoticed. Players who are rich enough to pick up any tab suddenly find themselves being fawned over by people eager to pay for their meals, golf, hotels, etc.

It's no secret that if you've got game in a high-profile sport, the world is prepared to massage your ego. It can't do enough for a star.

But for all the catering that's done for athletes, there's a flip side. And that is the scrutiny that comes with their status.

Just as accomplishments on the field can put them on a pedestal, so can transgressions -- everything from petty to horrific -- put them and their families through turmoil.

Here's a headline from yesterday's Knoxville News Sentinel: "UT player arrested on license charge."

The story details how University of Tennessee offensive guard Fred Weary Jr. was stopped for driving the wrong way on a one-way street.

A computer check revealed that Weary's Alabama driver's license had been suspended last year after he failed to appear in court. Because the police officer was uncertain if Weary would appear in court for this latest offense, they arrested him rather than give him a citation.

No alcohol, speeding or reckless driving was involved. Weary got caught driving the wrong way on a one-way street and, boom, a backup offensive lineman is making headlines in the newspaper.

If that same incident happens to a UT clarinet player or someone on an academic scholarship, it never sees the light of print or gets on the 6 o'clock news.

Last year, FSU quarterback Chris Weinke made statewide news because he was "almost arrested" for not breaking up a party at his house after a victory over North Carolina.

No wonder the Bryne Malone case has become a major sports story. …

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