Ever heard of the show 'Heroes'? I don't get to watch much TV, with two daughters under the age of 3. It's all the rage, from what I have heard. I did a little research on it, just to see what it's about(Wikipedia is awesome!), and understand the premise to be the story of several people who "thought they were like everyone else... until they woke with incredible abilities" such as telepathy, time travel and flight. These people soon realize they have a role in preventing a catastrophe and saving mankind. People have always been and will always be fascinated by super-heroes, and the idea that there could be people that actually have these powers makes for a great TV show. It is fantasy, of course, and us humans are undeniably flawed.
To make up for these flaws, to quench our hunger for fantasy, we apply these "super-hero" qualities to our athletes. Sure, we don't have a real Clark Kent, but we have Michael Jordan. No Bruce Wayne but Tiger Woods. We create larger than life figures to idolize, and in turn treat them as though they are invincible.
Every once in awhile, life reaches up and slaps us awake from this dream world. It shows us that these "heroes" are nothing more than us, mere mortals that can have our life taken from us at any time.
I have been a huge critic of Darrent Williams' play on the field. I won't deny it nor hide from it. Maybe it's for that reason I feel a huge sense of loss. My rants about his playing too soft in coverage, or fumbling a punt return, or missing a tackle, seem petty and insignificant right now, as they should, and reminds me that the athletes I write about, both in a positive and negative light, are only human, just like me, and can be gone, just like that.
The investigation will continue, and it is my hope that the person/persons responsible will be brought to justice. The media coverage to this point has been positive, though it is my worry that it will turn, as news outlets look for meaty story to gain viewers, or sell papers. That's what we do to our heroes, build them up to tear them down.
There will be talk that the players shouldn't have been at a club that night. That there is no reason to be hanging out "Hip-Hop Style"(yes I have read that somewhere). For some reason these guys shouldn't celebrate on New Year's Eve. These guys are just like us, and in fact better than anyone who went out and had a few drinks. They did it all the right way. They didn't drink and drive. All the reports I have read say that the altercations that broke out at the Club had nothing to do with Walker or Williams.
I could go 'round and 'round about this forever, but at some point the need to move on will take over. The NFL is a cruel world, and stops for nothing and no one, not even a senseless death.
If this tragedy does nothing else, let it be a reminder to you to keep in mind these athletes, who we place on a pedestal just to see how far we can knock them off, are people too, just like you and me. And most importantly, football is nothing but a game. Meaningless compared to life, and the next time we are agonizing over a loss, think of the family of Darrent Williams. That should put it all in perspective.