Our Sports Heroes and Their Flaws

Glenn CardSenior Analyst IApril 1, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 15: Former boxing champion Mike Tyson attends football legend Jim Brown's surprise birthday party at Crustacean on February 15, 2006 in Beverly Hills, California.   (Photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)

I can not remember where I read or heard it first, so I can not properly cite the person for the following statement. All convincing heroes have a tragic flaw.

I know that this is starting to sound like a contemporary literature lecture. I only wanted to explore this phrase in conjunction with sports heroes.

Now personally, I refrain from describing sports stars anything loftier than idol but I am aware that many fans hold their favorite athletes up to that standard of hero. So in keeping with that definition, I took it upon myself to identify the tragic flaw of a few of those same athletic heroes both new and old.

Michael Jordan: If you ever saw this man play the game of basketball then you know that he was something special on the court. I could even compare him with the Greek god Hermes, as you could swear he wore the winged sandals which gave him his hang time.

What was his tragic flaw? It became apparent to me that the man had spent much of his playing time in underwear two sizes to small. I’d be trying to jump out of my drawers too if they were too tight and were cramping my style.

It makes perfect sense why he now hawks goods for “Hanes.”

Curt Schilling: There could be some argument here from many other Baseball fans but in the Boston area, you can say no wrong against him. His bloody sock has been enshrined and he is a Red Sox hero.

Have you seen this guy? He just does not have the looks for a hero. Yeah, he’s kind of tall, but the only six packs you would expect on this guy would be in a Styrofoam cooler he’d be toting under his arm instead of a pitcher's glove.

Curt makes the case that anyone could be a hero.

Wayne Gretzky: Also known as “The Great One”, he is said to be the greatest hockey player of all time. The recipient of a number of multiple awards and reigning multiple record holder in NHL, he is said to have revived the sport of hockey single-handedly during the time that he played.

There’s not much that I could find to say as a flaw for Wayne. Because we share the same ethnic background, I’ll just say, who ever heard of a Polish hero?

Wayne is another preeminent example that anyone can be a hero.

Mike Tyson: “Iron Mike” was 20-years-old when he first won the WBC world heavyweight boxing title, the youngest boxer ever to win that title.

This is one hero that had multiple and glaring flaws. From marital issues to spousal abuse, and ultimately a conviction for rape, shows that his hero status was misplaced. He did have his fall from grace and has never been able to redeem a semblance of decorum.

Let’s just say he bit off more than he could chew. He turned out to be a false hero rather than a flawed one.

David Beckham: Soccer isn’t really my sport and there are only a couple of soccer players that I can name. If he got my attention, then I know that I’m just a true soccer novice compared to his substantive worldwide fan base.

OK, what’s with the hair? I’ve seen him with more do’s than my wife. Now that’s a flaw if my wife is more decisive with her hair than he is.

The truth be told, if I had his money who knows what I’d be doing with my hair, that is other than trying to re-grow it. Getting a little bald patch right back...uh, never mind

Peyton Manning: He is one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks. He’s been the league MVP a Super Bowl winner and SB MVP and is rightly revered by his Indianapolis fans. On top of that, he’s an all-around nice guy.

I’m afraid that his flaw is his brother Eli. He might be stuck in one of those sibling rivalries; "whatever you can do I can do better" kind of things.

Peyton’s got a Super Bowl win; Eli’s got a Super Bowl win. Peyton does a commercial, Eli does a commercial.

When they do a commercial together, Eli is the better actor. It’s a case of one-up-man-ship that may follow Peyton forever.

Richard Petty: Nicknamed “The King”, he is said to be the greatest NASCAR driver of all-time. There are a number of good drivers today that will never come close to half of what Richard accomplished throughout his racing career.

What’s he hiding under that hat? The man goes nowhere with out his Sunday bonnet.

I can’t remember the last time I saw him without a hat, and what’s with the feathers?

Even at his age, I still wouldn’t challenge him even to a foot race.

Those are just a quick few of the sports icons that I could have picked on. I know I’ve missed more than a couple of sports and a boatload of athletes.

I’ll leave it to you to tell me of the flaws that you have spotted with your heroes.

I also know that I may have upset some people, but before I get hate mail, let me say I commonly make fun of and laugh at myself; in other words, I’m flawed as well. Besides that, your hate mail just gives me more material to work with.

My flaws are a big part of who I am.

I don’t expect to call any athlete a hero because that sets the bar a bit too high. They are athletes, and they may be sports idols, but their flaws are part of who they are as well.

When we use the hero stamp on our athletes we need to be keep in mind that they are flesh and blood as well.