NASCAR's Message To The Fans: Carl Edwards is Our Cousin

Sal Sigala Jr.Senior Analyst IMarch 11, 2010

ATLANTA - MARCH 05:  Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Scotts Ford, stands in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 5, 2010 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo by Tom Whitmore/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Tom Whitmore/Getty Images

When Major League Baseball refused to allow one of their most coveted and popular players Pete Rose, the honor of enshrining himself into a dwelling place that is set aside for absolute greatness, they took a huge gamble, which is what Rose did when he was alleged to have bet on baseball, that their fans would not approve of their decision to keep Rose out of the Hall of Fame, even though the crime that he committed was worthy of the punishment.

Rose accepted that there was a factual reason for the ban. In return, Major League Baseball agreed to make no formal finding with regard to the gambling allegations.

On Feb. 21, 2000, N.H.L star and enforcer Marty McSorley who played for the Boston Bruins, committed one the most heinous acts that has ever been witnessed during a hockey game, when he swung his hockey stick at Vancouver Canucks forward Donald Brashear during the last three seconds of a game.

McSorley's swing hit Brashear in the helmet, and the ensuing contact knocked Brashear to the ice, knocking him unconscious with Brashear suffering a grade three concussion.

As a result of the stick incident, McSorley was charged with assault and suspended by the NHL for the remainder of the 1999–2000 season.

On Oct. 4, 2000, a jury found McSorley guilty of assault with a weapon for his attack on Brashear.

He was sentenced to 18 months probation. If it wasn’t for the helmet that Brashear was wearing, the blow would have easily sent him to an early grave.

These are just a couple of many examples where the governing bodies allowed justice to prevail, even if it meant that one of their star players was involved.

What type of message would have been sent to not only the fans, but the rest of the players if nothing was done except maybe probation in McSorley's case?

In Rose’s case, Major League Baseball wanted to send out a strong message that no matter how much star power a player thinks he has, no one was going to make a mockery of the system if they broke any of their rules.

There have been other examples where the powers that be in professional sports have stepped in and laid down some pretty heavy punishments to their players, and all for the sake of keeping the integrity of their sport the No. 1 one priority.

On Tuesday, NASCAR was given a chance to hand down a punishment that could have been based on the laws of moral principles. Instead they chose to show their fans that the integrity of the sport is not their No. 1 priority.

The punishment, if that’s what you want to call it, was based more on protecting the ratings, even if it meant compromising what the sport was originally built on, which unfortunately was not one driver blatantly taking out another driver with no respect to those around him.

The NASCAR social sites lit up with blog after blog supporting NASCAR for the decision they made, and of course there were those who wrote about how disappointed they were that NASCAR did not take the appropriate action when given the opportunity.

Action is exactly what was missing in their decision to allow Edwards to walk away with nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

Did the punishment even come close to fitting the crime, especially when Edwards acted out of pure unadulterated anger? Not once did he ever apologize to the fans or Keselowski for his bizarre behavior.

The behavior that Edwards displayed added more fire to the argument that he has no regard for human life, especially when you take into account that he deliberately used his race car to try and inflict harm or even death on another driver.

Prisons around the country are full of inmates that have used the same line as Edwards, when they used the excuse that they never expected anybody to get hurt.

If that was the case, then why even allow any type of reckless thought to enter your mind to begin with?

There is no way that Edwards knew where the car was going to end up after he dive bombed Keselowski, which he admitted afterwards, but sometimes afterwards could be a little too late.

Edwards premeditated his actions in the same manner that McSorley and Rose did, with the only exception that he got away with it and they didn’t.

Many of the drivers have also expressed their disbelief in NASCAR’s decision, and it was clear that a lot of the fans also expected NASCAR to send out a strong message that the type of behavior that was displayed by Edwards would not be tolerated.

How many more times will NASCAR allow a driver to display a form of reckless behavior before they step in and start handing down some serious punishments?

Will it take a driver, or even worse a fan, to sustain a serious injury or death before they stand in the gap and put a stop to the aggression of one driver deliberately going after another?

If M.L.B. could make an example out of Pete Rose by not allowing him to enter the Hall of Fame because he allegedly bet on baseball, how hard would it have been for NASCAR to hand down a punishment that would have made Edwards, along with his fellow drivers, to think twice before they entertain a thought of committing a cold blooded act of revenge?

It's no secret that NASCAR could use the added attention along with the added publicity that would keep the fans talking about the sport during the off-week, and what happened between Edwards and Keselowski played right into their hands.

NASCAR couldn’t have asked for a better scripted ending, but it almost came at the expense of one of their own getting seriously injured and all for the sake of ratings.

Is a human life really worth the added publicity, if indeed the inevitable were to happen?

Is this really the kind of publicity that NASCAR was looking for? Because if it was, they could thank Edwards, which they did by giving him a high wrist slap.

Think about the message that was sent to not only the drivers themselves, but to their fans that put all their trust that NASCAR is looking out for their best interests.

It looked like NASCAR was headed in the right direction when they made an example out of Jeremy Mayfield for his alleged drug addiction by suspending him indefinitely.

Now you have to wonder if the fans were right when they spoke out saying that NASCAR plays favorites depending on who is involved.

After Tuesday's decision, the mystery of who is actually Carl's cousin was finally answered.


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