Even Professional Atheletes Have To "Protect Their Reps"!

Shashwat BaxiCorrespondent IDecember 3, 2008

The NBA and NFL are home to some of the best athletes in the entire world. There is no question that some of these basketball and football players have had hard lives and rough childhoods.

They took up sports to stay away from gangs and to distract them from their broken homes. These guys worked on their game long and hard and eventually became good enough to play in the NCAA and then the NFL or NBA.

Even through it all, they refuse to let anyone think that they became "soft." For whatever reason, even professional athletes have to protect their reputation as being from "the streets," and they must always "rep their hood."

There is no question that athletes are high profiled people who make lots of money. There have been numerous stories of athletes who have been involved in violent activities, especially in recent years. More and more athletes are being targeted, robbed, and killed.

It can be understandable to some that athletes have begun to carry weapons and bring back their "hardcore" image and reputation.

In the National Basketball Association, Commissioner Stern mandated that players would dress in certain types of clothes before and after games. David Stern was tired of players arriving to the game with their baggy jeans, wave caps, and extra-long, white t-shirts.

Even with this mandate, basketball players have the biggest "thug life" complex. From Gun Hill to Rucker Park, especially with the ever increasing popularity of And1 and the Entertainers Basketball Classic, there is a difference between being a baller and Baller.

Take a look at Allen Iverson. Nobody could argue that Iverson, the former All-Star, doesn't deserve to play in the NBA. Even though AI has made it to the NBA, been to the All-Star games numerous times, and even played in the NBA Finals...he still has a rep to protect.

AI does what any real "thug" would do, and that is worry about himself. He skipped practice whenever he wanted, played for himself, and makes sure that he gets paid. AI is only one of countless basketball players that have to show their fanbase that they didn't become "soft" or go "Hollywood".

He doesn't want to alienate his fans and show that he is still "Black." Even as a millionaire, AI shows the people that he is as much of a tough guy as he was before playing at G-Town. 

Even if AI was to clean up his image, it would not change the fact that there are many others out there like this. Even though they have more money then they need, it's still about keeping true to who they are and where their from. These guys are all afraid that their boys in the hood will think less of them if they lessen their tough exterior and realize that they aren't out runnin' the streets anymore.

The same is true for the National Football League, especially in recent times. With more stories coming out every day, the latest being of Plaxico Burress and Antonio Pierce, the NFL is also getting an image of being a league of thugs.

Plaxico and Antonio, both well known in New York City, still thought it would be a better idea to carry a loaded gun and then lie about it. This fiasco just puts an exclamation point on the amount of legal issues that NFL players have been going through.

Burress and Pierce represent the same mentality as is already present in the National Basketball Association. Just look at other events that have conspired off the field with NFL players.

The Vikings cruise, Tank Johnson, Pacman Jones, and Michael Vick are some of the most highlighted stories in the past few years. Everyone wants to be a player, they want to "make it rain" and show everyone that they should not be messed with.

Nobody can explain what it was that Burress was doing with a loaded and unlocked gun in mid-town NYC last week. They cannot explain why Michael Vick would have dogs fight each other.

There is no excuse for any of Pacman Jones's or Tank Johnson's actions. The Vikings "cruise" was just a ridiculous event that should have been better hidden. It's all about protecting their reputation.

These are our professional athletes, role models, and celebrities. As sad as it is to say about the state of the NBA and the NFL, these are only the stories that we know about.

Something needs to get done before everyone in the NBA and NFL start walking around with three security guards and a couple of 9mms in their pocket. At least if these guys are going to start carrying guns for their protection, they should learn how to use one. Just ask Plaxico Burress...