Admittedly, the year is still relatively young. A lot of athletes will make a lot of stupid decisions between now and the end of December. But assuming that the implosion of Roger Clemens deserves a special lifetime achievement honor, I’m going to go ahead and nominate former Georgia Tech quarterback Joe Hamilton for the Dumbest Ex-Jock of 2008.
In case you missed it, Tech hired Hamilton as its assistant director of player personnel last week. Among his chief duties were certain on-campus recruiting responsibilities and players’ needs.
It appeared to be a nice move on the Yellow Jackets’ part, if for no other reason than Little Joe was among the most popular Techsters ever. In fact, he led the Jackets to the 1998 Atlantic Coast Conference championship and finished second in the 1999 Heisman Trophy balloting.
Then came early Tuesday morning on the Tech campus. Responding to a nearby hit-and-run crash, Tech’s campus police pulled over Hamilton’s black Ford Expedition because it matched the description and license tag of the offending vehicle in the accident.
Smelling alcohol on his breath, the officers asked Hamilton if he’d been drinking and if he’d been involved in an accident. He reportedly answered yes to both, which is a tactic Clemens might have tried a few hundred lies ago.
But the police didn’t stop with his admission. They put Hamilton through a series of field sobriety tests, which he failed. A subsequent search of the car uncovered a marijuana cigarette.
He was soon arrested on charges of drunk driving, marijuana possession and hit-and-run. To save Tech the trouble of firing him, Hamilton resigned Wednesday, though he is maintaining his innocence.
“I apologize to the Georgia Tech community and my family,” said the 31-year-old following his bond hearing. “For the confusion and commotion, the negative spotlight.”
If sports has ever spent seven days in a more negative spotlight than the past seven, I’d hate to see it.
Certainly the terrorist attack at the 1972 Munich Olympics was worse, but that’s a single event, a crime and tragedy of unimaginable proportions.
Aside from the heartbreaking demise of Kentucky Derby runner-up Eight Belles, the worst sports moments of the past seven days could all have been prevented.
Or don’t you think Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony knew better than to drive 15 miles over the speed limit on Saturday some three weeks after being cited for driving under the influence?
Though there seems some reasonable argument concerning Chicago Bears running back Cedric Benson’s altercation with officers of the Lower Colorado River Authority outside Austin, Tex., it seems hard to believe that the former Texas Longhorn running back was pepper-sprayed for no reason Saturday night.
Of course, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem would probably like to pepper-spray John Daly’s whole body after Daly played a round of golf at his John Daly’s Murder Rock Golf and Country Club wearing only a pair of blue jeans — no shirt, shoes or socks — last week. Coming soon to a video store near you: “Golfers Gone Wild (The John Daly tapes).”
Then there is former track star Tim Montgomery, who won a gold medal in the 400 relay at the 2000 Olympics. He was arrested last week on a sealed indictment accusing him of dealing more than 100 grams of heroin in Virginia.
Montgomery, by the way, already faces up to 46 months in prison for his role in a check-kiting conspiracy.
And we wonder why television ratings are in slow decline for everything from the Final Four to tennis to the Kentucky Derby.
One bit of good news did arrive from the sports world Wednesday, however.
Concerning the roster for the U.S. Olympic baseball team, U.S. general manager Bob Watson said of Clemens’ possible spot on the squad: “From my standpoint, we don’t need that type of distraction.”
From my standpoint, when more men in charge mirror Watson, far fewer athletes anywhere will choose to mirror Anthony, Benson, Clemens, Daly, Hamilton or Montgomery.