Being A Role Model
July 2 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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NFL Players by the very definition of their jobs are role models. Try as they might (cough cough Randy Moss), there really is no way around it. But what most of these NFL players donít realize is that there is a certain responsibility that comes with this position. And while this is a gross generalization - because there are of course the few athletes, who do respect their position in the spot light. But if these players did take the position seriously there would be fewer arrests at the pro-level, and certainly fewer disappointed fans.
I remember the first time I saw a role model of mine (not an athlete, just your every day - run of the mill, role model) smoking a cigarette. Now while Iím still the farthest thing from someone who advocates smoking, Iím much more tolerant now than I was when I was fourteen. At the time, though it was crushing. There was this person I looked up to, that I wanted to model my self after, flawed. And at the time, it was just disheartening.
While Iíve since realized that even the best of us are flawed, I still believe it is the responsibility of role models to conceal their flaws from the public eye. Most athletes donít smoke, but many drink, or worse. What they donít realize every time they get charged with a DUI is that thousands of young fans, who worship them, get slapped in the face.
One of the reasonís Iíve always loved the 49ers, is that their players donít flaunt the inevitable character flaws. The typically Ďclassyí organization has always been the epitome of what NFL teams should be. I hated to see so many 49ers negatively spotlighted in the media this off-season. Whether the player be charged, arrested or just downright doing the Ďwrongí thing, I firmly believe they have to clean up their act. The player may simply have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, but certainly one can make a case for not being in the Ďwrong placeí to begin with.
Iím certain the 49ers and the NFL will be to address these situations. They have become increasingly prominent in todayís NFL and itís time that the NFL takes action. More serious punishments should certainly be set for those that tarnish the good nature of pro-sports. As for those who look to the NFL for role models, my best advice for them is to choose wisely, or they could be very disappointed one day.