Father's Day: Dad, Always Wanted an Athlete?

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Father's Day: Dad, Always Wanted an Athlete?

Happy belated Father’s Day to all of the fathers in the house.

I meant to post this on Sunday, but Father’s Day weekend has become remarkably hectic around our place since my daughter was born on June 18, 2007. Father’s Day weekend has become not only about the men who raised my wife and I, and my wife’s aunt who celebrates a birthday on June 20th, but it has also become about my daughter.

Let’s be honest, it’s become 98 percent about my daughter, which is just fine with me, although not quite as fine with my son. While having a house full of visitors "oohing and aahing" over Abby Cadabby pajamas may equal good quality family time, it doesn’t equal good quality blogging time.

I’d also like to issue some blame for my procrastination to a Madison-area restaurant that shall go unnamed for putting me and my family in a foul mood for much of Sunday. This restaurant -- not a chain -- served up adequate food (no better or worse than the likes of Denny’s or Perkins), but offered, despite being only moderately busy, remarkably horrific service. It was close to nonexistent. When we finally complained after forty five minutes of being completely and utterly ignored, we were told that our experience was normal. I’d love to mention them by name, but instead I'll take the high road, which, as my wife would confirm, is highly unusual for me.

So, one day late, here my annual Father’s Day thoughts:

I became the head coach of my son’s kindergarten soccer team this year, and while I thoroughly enjoyed working and playing with most of the children on the team, one of the kids admittedly drove me crazy.

My son.

Now all parents say this about their children, but my six-year-old son is a remarkable kid. He’s very smart, very funny, and very creative. But he has obviously inherited his athletic prowess from his father. In short, he has none.

I’d be lying if I said that when my son was born I imagined him to be the next Eddie George, George Brett, or Brett Favre (though during his potty-training, he showed a lot of Favre’s rampant indecisiveness), but had he displayed any natural athletic ability I certainly would have encouraged it.

I realize that he’s only six and he has oodles of time to develop into a skilled athlete. However, neither my wife nor I are holding our breath.

But hardly a day goes by that I’m not proud to be his father.

Anyway, it’s not as if all children who become well-known athletes turn into men of whom their fathers can be proud. 

So here is a list of athletes who aren’t making their fathers beam with pride this Father’s Day:

1. Donte’ Stallworth. Not only does the Cleveland Browns receiver need to live with the guilt of killing a man while driving drunk, he now has to deal with the public hatred that comes when someone gets away with manslaughter basically scot-free. Oh, and he is indefinitely barred by the NFL from making a living.

2.  Sasha Vujacic. After seeing significant playing time in last year’s NBA Finals, where he shot 42 percent from the floor for a total of 50 points over six games, the Lakers guard was wisely benched for much of the 2009 Finals. Vujacic ended up shooting 0-6 for a total of zero points in Los Angeles’s triumphant five-game series over Orlando. And he gets a ring for that?

3. Ryan Leaf. OK, maybe he’s about a decade removed from being considered an “athlete,” but the story of the former Washington State standout QB and overall number two pick in 1998’s NFL Draft just keeps getting sadder. Just last Friday he turned himself in to authorities after allegedly breaking into the apartment of a West Texas A&M football player and stealing painkillers. (Leaf was the quarterbacks coach at the school until resigning amid an unrelated drug investigation.) Ryan Leaf and Morganna, the Kissing Bandit: Your two biggest sports-related busts ever.

4. Alex Rodriguez. The Yankees “slugger” is having about as good a year professionally as Vanilla Ice: First he admitted to using banned substances, then he got injured, now he’s hitting a whopping .213 and is performing so poorly that Yankee manager Joe Girardi has decided to rest him occasionally for “fatigue.” Not to mention that embarrassing Guitar Hero commercial that makes Michael Jordan’s cutesy series of underwear spots with Cuba Gooding, Jr., look positively brilliant in comparison.

5.  Daisuke Matsuzaka. Remember when the Boston Red Sox paid $51.11 million just for the right to negotiate with the Japanese star pitcher? He’s now on the DL with a 1-5 record and a 8.23 ERA. The Red Sox still have the second-best team in baseball, but that $51 mill is looking like one of the biggest wastes of money since the budget for Basic Instinct 2.

6. Marian Hossa. The right winger defected from the Pittsburgh Penguins at the end of last season to sign with the Detroit Red Wings, saying in effect that Detroit offered him the best chance at a Stanley Cup. Not only did the Penguins end up beating the Wings in the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals, but Hossa stunk, scoring exactly zero goals in the seven-game series. Shelley Long has managed her career better than Hossa.

7. Josh McDaniels. OK, the head coach of the Denver Broncos isn’t necessarily an athlete, although he did play football in college. But the 33-year-old coach is younger than many professional athletes, and has had one of the worst off-seasons in recent NFL history: First he was a key figure in the loss of franchise quarterback Jay Cutler, now he is faced with the possibility of star receiver Brandon Marshall refusing to play for him. McDaniels also drafted a running back in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft despite the fact that the team had picked up three backs in free agency. I haven’t seen anyone more primed to fail in a new job since Gary Cherone took over for Sammy Hagar in Van Halen. But hey, if McDaniels does fail in Denver, I know a certain Madison-area restaurant that could use some service help.

Happy Father’s Day.

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