Pete Rose: Another in a Long Line of Flawed Sports Heroes

Glenn CardSenior Analyst IApril 2, 2009

RIDGEWOOD, NJ - JANUARY 8:  Baseball great Pete Rose autographs his new book during his appearance at Bookends bookstore to autograph his new book 'Pete Rose  My Prison Without Bars' January 8, 2004 in Ridgewood, New Jersey.  (Photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images)

This is the second article in the “Flawed” series exploring the habit of naming our sports icons as heroes. It has been said, convincing heroes have tragic flaws.

Through these articles, I look at different sports, focus on a few of the time-honored “heroes,” and attempt to reveal the flaws that make them endearing to their fans.

By looking at their flaws, I question the “hero” mantle that we tend place upon them.


Dusty Rhodes

I grew up in Georgia watching Rhodes as a masterful wrestler, a champion, and a pioneer of the sport.

He was dubbed “The American Dream” among other flamboyant titles.

Clearly, his flaw is that he was an athlete in an entertainment venue, not quite sitcom and only part reality show.

I don’t doubt for a minute Rhode’s, or any other wrestler’s athletic abilities, and I would not care to get into a ring with him.


Michael Phelps

Olympic record-smasher, world champion swimmer.

We, as a human collective, have never seen a swimmer like him outside of Mark Spitz, who, we were sure, was the ultimate swimmer.

Phelp's flaw is living the lie that everybody has his back.

Michael, you are a nice enough guy, but damn, you’ve got to spend a bit of your money on some people who will really watch out for you.

I’m hoping he can bounce back from his latest faux pas and get back into the water.


Kyle Busch

Busch is race car-driving prodigy from a family with a racing heritage. Could he be the next big thing?

Racing is clearly in his blood.

Ask the racing fans what Busch’s flaw is and they'll tell you: The guy is a man-child.

I'll get hermatile sometimes and write a rant. But Busch would rather throw his fits out in the open with an audience, and on television no less.

Here’s a hint for you Kyle: Try waiting until you get home, then lock yourself in a room and pitch your fit.


Tiger Woods

Arguably one of the greatest golfers ever, when Woods is on the course, the question is always, "who’s coming in second?"

If I were to point out his only flaw, it would be that he makes playing golf look way too easy.

The sport is not quite as fun to watch when I’m expecting him to win every week.


Brett Favre

Green Bay Packer fans will forever speak of "the iron man" with reverence. He gave the entire region reason to cheer during football weekends.

Flawed? Don’t even get me started.

He has said “retire” more times than my wife has said “hot flash,” and neither one of those terms mean it's a good thing.

Finally, this year it looks like he means it. But then again, we’re not even close to preseason yet.


Pete Rose

Rose was the kind of baseball player that everyone wanted to love because he was the epitome of the “everyman."

He was the “Joe the Plumber” of baseball, and he was damn gooda Hall of Fame player that may never be inducted.

Rose's flaw was being just like everyone else I know. We love our sports, and sometimes we put a wager on the outcome.

The only baseball player at the time who seemed to enjoy sliding head first has gone through most of his life leading with his chin.


Again, this is but a sampling of the different sports and their icons. I invite you to share your thoughts on other flawed sports idols.

By scratching the surface of the hero persona, we allow a bit of reality to leak out. With that we can begin to see that these and other sports personalities are but flesh and blood, made with the same material as their adorers.