Wednesday, June 11, 2008
The Time Has Come To Unretire #21
It's a painfully awkward time for University of Texas Athletics. We're about a year removed from the 2007 football season which saw more players arrested than a Smoking Gun photo gallery. We've seen the recent arrests of former RB and now-former Chicago Bear, Cedric Benson, on two separate alcohol-related incidents in the last five weeks. Apparently, Cedric has a liver that won't quit, but a brain that just did.
Ex-UT quarterback and perpetual disappointment, Chris Simms, is demanding a trade from Tampa Bay, conveniently forgetting that the reason he's been benched is not only b/c he ruptured his spleen, but b/c a 38-year-old veteran, Jeff Garcia, and some scrub from Akron, Bruce Gradkowski, routinely outplayed him before his internal organs blew up.
We've seen our baseball team fall before making it to Omaha. We saw our basketball team make it to Houston, only to be blown off the court by Memphis, a team w/ only ten percent of the players compared to the UT football team, but double the arrests.
But nothing compares to the slings and arrows we've suffered lately than to be publicly humiliated by one of our proudest, most decorated alumni, #21 Roger Clemens. Clemens was a member of the 1983 National Championship team, a three-time champion with the New York Yankees, a seven-time Cy Young winner, and an esteemed member of the 350-win fraternity. Due to his stunning accomplishments, Clemens is one of only five athletes in the storied successes of University of Texas athletics, and the only baseball player, to have his number retired.
And rightfully so. Until now.
You see, it's not just about the allegations of steroid use surrounding and tainting virtually all aspects of Clemens' entire career. It's about the alleged cover-up, the constant spinning, the feeble mudslinging, the "misremembering," and everything else that has been a part of Clemens since the Mitchell Report was released. It's about making a complete fool of himself on Capital Hill in front of Congressmen that frankly looked no better than Clemens himself.
It's about the alleged affair with a 15-year-old Mindy McCready, which, if true, makes him a pedophile. It's about the latest allegations released today stating that Clemens was using Viagra in an attempt to counteract the testicular shrinkage associated w/ steroids.
Maybe it's not time for these accusations to go away. But Roger, it's time for your #21 to come off the shelve in an unprecedented move by the University of Texas at Austin. It's time to unretire #21.
It's true that we have another basket case who's number is retired, that of course belonging to former Heisman Trophy winner, Ricky Williams. It's also true that Ricky embarrassed us with his ridiculous antics involving several different NFL suspensions for marijuana use, apparently having sired more progeny than Secretariat, and wasting his God-given abilities to conduct himself like a burnout. However, it's not like Ricky cheated his way to his successes. It's not like he potentially perjured himself in front of Congress. It's not to suggest out of all of his kids, he fathered one of them w/ a budding 15-year-old country music star.
Ultimately, that's the difference between Ricky Williams and Roger Clemens. I can explain to outsiders that Ricky was a great running back with a troubled past. We can retire #34 for what he accomplished as a Longhorn, and leave it at that. What happened to him was, and is, unfortunate, but certainly explainable. I can't explain, condone or spin the actions of Roger Clemens. I seriously don't think natives of Austin, TX nor graduates of the University of Texas seriously want to try either, unless of course, UT Law students want to take their best crack at defending him in Mock Trial. Good luck on that.
Roger Clemens is no longer a prominent alumni in the same vain with Walter Cronkite, Kay Bailey Hutchinson or Renee Zellweiger. He is a cheat, potentially a convict, and maybe a pedophile. We should no longer honor his #21 in the same way we honor Earl, T.J., KD or even Ricky. They have, for the most part, brought honor, not shame to UT.
It is time for the UT Board of Regents, the new president, and Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds, to make an appropriate stand regarding this symbolic gesture. The Longhorns need to give #21 to a baseball player, maybe not as talented as Clemens, but one who will wear the number with esteem and pride, conduct himself publicly in an upstanding manner, and most of all, not behave in such a low-class, sleazeball fashion that Clemens has displayed since finding himself in the Mitchell Report.
Maybe one day we can retire another baseball player's number. Maybe one day, it will be #21 as worn by someone else. But #21 should no longer be associated with Roger Clemens. As of right now, Roger Clemens shouldn't be associated with the University of Texas either.