T.J. Ward is a Pro Bowl safety who plays for the Denver Broncos. Like most professional athletes he is pampered, overpaid, adored and worshiped by fans who believe he can do no wrong. Also like most professional athletes, he suffers from serious delusions about his own importance. TJ has been suspended by the league from playing the first game of the season this Sunday. His reaction to that suspension is so classic I have to make it the object of today's post.
At the end of last season TJ signed a four year contract with the Broncos that is going to pay him millions of dollars. He decided to celebrate his new found riches so last May he set out to get drunk and visit a strip club. Here is how the Denver Post described the incident that took place, "Ward was accused of throwing a mug at a bartender after she told him outside drinks were not allowed. He was charged with misdemeanor assault and disturbing the peace, but he later agreed to a deal that would drop the charges in exchange for him doing four hours of community service." So let me get this straight. TJ, obviously a bit liquored up, walks into a strip club and demands to be permitted to bring in his own booze. When the lady bartender running the place informs him that such things are contrary to proper etiquette he hurls a beer mug at her, hoping to do serious harm to her physique. The fact that he missed her indicates that the Broncos brass made the right decision in electing to have him play on the defensive side of the ball. As is typical in such cases, TJ struck a deal with the District Attorney in which he agreed to do four hours of "community service," whatever that is, in exchange for having his record expunged. I couldn't help but wonder about TJ's community service. What do you think? Is it possible he served it by acting as a celebrity bartender at the strip club? That would be my guess. The report did not say where or how he paid his debt to society.
How would you feel if you had done what TJ did? How would you react to the public reporting in a daily newspaper about what you had done? Would there be any shame? Would there be any remorse? Would you feel even the slightest bit upset at your own immoral behavior? I don't know about others these days but if I had been caught hurling beer mugs at bartenders in a strip club I would be so ashamed of myself I would probably not go out into public for at least three years. During that time I would be on my knees asking God to forgive me for my sin and stupidity. That, of course, is not how TJ reacted. Here is the text of his response to the suspension:
"I take full responsibility for the incident that occurred in May 2014 and am willing to accept the consequences of my actions by serving my one game suspension. Although I was never arrested and all charges against me were ultimately dismissed, I have no one to blame but myself for being in the predicament that evening. To the Denver Broncos organization, the Bowlen family and to the Denver Broncos fans, I want to apologize for my conduct. I have learned from my mistakes and will continue to be a pillar in the community to make myself a stronger person and player for the Denver Broncos." Let's dissect those comments, shall we?
Ward, as all sinners always do, couches his confession in the passive voice. Notice how the incident at the strip club bar simply "occurred." He didn't do it. It happened to him. He then attempts to make himself appear heroic by declaring that he is willing to "accept his suspension," as if he has any choice in the matter. How magnanimous of him. At that point Ward begins to rewrite history to make himself appear as the paragon of moral virtue he believes himself to be. He was never arrested, or so he tells us. Indeed, all the charges against him were dropped. I suspect we are to assume that means he really didn't do any of the things he was accused of doing. How could he have done anything wrong when he was never arrested and the charges against him were dropped? Of course he fails to inform us that the reason the charges against him were dropped is due to the fact that he copped a deal.
Informing us that he has no one to blame for his predicament but himself is on the list of most obvious statements of the year. Do ya think? He then launches into the boilerplate list of apologies, leaving only his priest and the local chapter of LGBTQ off the list of folks he feels compelled to apologize to. He then declares that he has learned from his mistakes. I wonder what he has learned? Has he returned to the strip clubs? Has he continued to demand to be treated with special privilege and favor because he is a hallowed Denver Bronco? I suspect so.
The reason I decided to write this post today is entirely the result of TJ's final phrase. He said, "I will continue to be a pillar in the community..." What? Who is he kidding? Just how delusional is this guy? He believes that he was a "pillar in the community" as he was throwing beer mugs at lady bartenders in a strip club. If that is being a moral pillar, I wonder what he would consider being a moral reprobate? My point is obvious. TJ believes he is a moral paragon and role model for all of us plebeians simply because he is a Denver Bronco. He is treated in that fashion by everyone he meets so it is hard to fault him for his delusional views of himself. So I have written this post, certain to never be read by him, to inform him that he is no better than anyone else. He is not a pillar of virtue. He is a sinful human being and he needs to repent of his sin.