WHATEVER Chris Henry's last thoughts were as he fell from the bed of his fiancee's pickup truck onto a Carolina road can only be guessed at. Each of us has had conflicts with those we love, and each of us has made poor decisions as a result of those conflicts. Hopefully, we live to speak out loud our regrets, and to 'make good' when given a second chance. But the decisions made by Chris Henry and Tiger Woods over the last month will be given extra scrutiny, due to the celebrity status of the people involved.
CELEBRITIES, and sports celebrities in particular, have been given a lot of leeway through the years with regards to their off-the-playing-field behaviors. Some fans say that with celebrity comes a responsibility to the adoring fan base to be held to a higher standard of behavior. On the other hand, there are many people who strongly believe that everyone is entitled to some privacy, no matter how famous they are. I believe this too. Yet the latest instances of sports figures misbehaving badly have been out in public for all the world to see, if only the public happened to be driving down a particular stretch of road in Florida or North Carolina. Replete with police reports and investigations, these instances have played out on our computers and televisions as never before in the age of immediate media. We discuss them as sports fans, as news junkies, and as amateur psychologists.
SADLY, the latest word is that Cincinnati Bengals' wideout Chris Henry has died from the injuries suffered in his accident. Now not only will his family, his wife's family, and the NFL family not be allowed to grieve privately for their loss, but the media will attempt to speculate over and over about the causes of the accident: why was Henry in the bed of the truck? What were he and his fiancee fighting over? Is this just another case of the Bengals being an out-of-control team? Painful questions that will go on and on, just as those regarding Tiger Woods and his alleged affairs, and the effect they have had on Woods, his family, and the entire golfing community.
THESE reminders are just those: reminders that our heroes are in fact human, and while they may be superstars on the field and on the links, they are susceptible to the same mistakes the rest of us are when playing in the human arena. May the families, friends, and teammates of Chris Henry find the peace they need to get through these difficult hours... and may the rest of us use dignity when remembering and discussing these sensitive affairs.