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Another case of athletes 'misfiring'

By Josh Bogorad
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday Feb. 27, 2002

Earlier this week, former NBA star and current NBC basketball analyst Jayson Williams turned himself in to authorities after a limousine driver was found shot and killed on his 65-acre estate. According to reports, Williams was playing around with his gun when it "accidentally" went off and hit 55-year-old Costas Christofi, fatally wounding him.

Talk about your bad luck. Of all the acres in Williams' New Jersey mansion, Christofi had to be on the one where Williams was doing his untamed Billy the Kid impression. Williams now faces up to 15 years on manslaughter charges for his recklessness.

Given Williams' recent history, it's hard to believe iT that he never learned his lesson prior to this. He had previously been arrested for firing a semiautomatic weapon in the Continental Airlines Arena parking lot in New Jersey. What a showman, huh? All he needs is a loaded gun and some empty space and Jayson Williams is a happy guy. He also admitted to almost shooting New York Jets wide receiver Wayne Chrebet while skeet shooting at his mansion. Oh, if only Christofi had Chrebet's speed and agility, maybe Williams could go on to shoot another day.

As it stands, it appears that Mr. Williams will be headed toward a new estate. I'm not sure exactly how many acres his new prison cell will span, but I'm willing to bet it will be a severe drop-off from 65.

Williams has written about his various run-ins with the law in his book, "Loose Balls." Yeah, that's right. He wrote a book. Isn't it a great country we live in when 7.3 points per game in the NBA and a lack of common sense is all you need to be a qualified author?

What's the deal with professional athletes today? They think that extraordinary talent for sports makes them invincible. Everyone knows that in order for athletes to truly be invincible, they must gain 2,000 rushing yards in a season, win the Heisman Trophy and have the will to search day and night for the "real killers" on the 16th hole of the Bel Air country club.

It seems that O.J. set a precedent that makes all athletes think they can get away with anything including murder. The only problem is that no athlete since O.J. has gotten away with anything. Former All-Pro wide receiver Rae Carruth may spend the next quarter century in jail after plotting to kill his girlfriend who was pregnant with his child. NHL goaltender Eddie Belfour received jail time and a large fine after getting drunk and beating up a security guard. The amazing part about that is when the police arrived on the scene, they refused Belfour's generous bribe offer of one billion dollars to let him go. Quick thinking, Eddie. I can't believe that didn't work.

Mike Tyson is in and out of jail so frequently that they're going to give him a cell with a revolving door.

Even when acquitted, irreparable damage is done to a player's image. Less than a year after he was found not guilty, Ray Lewis was named the Super Bowl MVP, and he didn't even get to go to Disneyland.

And now, because of his carelessness, Williams will spend the upcoming years learning how to defend against a new back-door cut because of his self-perceived invincibility.

Athletes are just that - athletes. They are not superhuman. They are individuals with flaws just like anyone else. Granted, most flaws include eating poorly or lying too often, not firing guns until they hit someone. Some athletes are very stupid people, but they are still just people. They are not role models. It is not part of their job description. Athletes have every right to be upset when their lives are scrutinized and they are criticized for not being good role models. However, at the same time, being above the law is not part of their job description either. Role models should be parents, teachers, siblings and sports columnists for college newspapers. They shouldn't be athletes. There is absolutely no correlation between people's athletic ability and how well they conduct themselves outside the realm of sports. While they may have more power and money than the average person, athletes must pay the same as anyone else when it comes to the law. And Jayson Williams learned that the hard way.

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