According to SeattlePI.com, Shannon Sharpe, former NFL star, stepped aside today from his position as a CBS sports analyst after a Ms. Michele Bundy of Georgia filed a temporary restraining order against him last week. Bundy accused the former football star of sexual assault, forced sex, stalking behaviors, and making threats against her life. Although the restraining order has reportedly been dismissed, according to TMZ.com, Sharpe has made no statement about a possible return to his abandoned career.
How have other prominent sex scandals involving athletes affected their careers? The list is lengthy and perhaps deserving of book-length treatment, but let’s cull three from it and examine each briefly.
How could we not begin our review but with Tiger Woods? Mr. Golf and Mr. Perfect Image was apparently able to juggle long-term relationships with a number of different women while married and raising two children. His hubris didn’t stop there: Had he simply answered police questions about a 4 a.m. driveway accident, there might never have been a public story. Finally cornered, Woods went into “rehab” purportedly for a sexual addiction, confessed his arrogance on national television, and then returned to golf and mediocre performance.
Oh, and his wife divorced him too. It seems the jury’s still out on how or if he can “rehab” his image and his ability as he did his addiction.
Didn’t Kobe Bryant have a great year? The five-time NBA Champion became the “all-time leader scorer in Lakers franchise history.” This guy can’t stop winning kudos and awards: All-Star, MVP, All-NBA, All-Defensive, Olympic Gold Metalist, Player of the Decade, Alleged Rapist.
Yeah, that’s right. Remember 2003 and the young woman in Colorado who reported that Bryant had sexually assaulted her? The story continued rearing its ugly head intermittently for over two years and everyone had an opinion as to “what really happened.” And then she refused to testify, requiring the charges to be thrown-out. I can’t speak to his personal life, but his career seems to have continued along in stunning fashion.
Let’s close with Ben Roethlisberger. If any athlete is a “poster boy” for chemical castration, it’s him.
The Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback is a citizen, born in Ohio and raised in the US. English is his first language. I checked to make sure as he’s repeatedly demonstrated an inability to understand the word “No.”
In 2008, a Nevada woman accused him of rape when she answered his report of a faulty television as part of her duties as a casino executive. The victim didn’t file criminal charges, but a civil case remains open.
Apparently a grown, sober woman put up too much of a fight. Football players are trained to change tactics according to their opponents’ abilities. So, this past March, Roethlisberger changed tactics and was accused of sexually assaulting an intoxicated college student. He was never charged due to insufficient evidence, but the NFL Commissioner saw enough — or had heard enough — to punish Roethlisberger with suspension.
And the morals of the stories? It seems to be a mixed bag, and one that depends both on the athlete’s subsequent performances and whether or not any such accusations become part of a pattern. One thing is clear: Morals or even commonsense aren’t necessarily passed out with athletic ability.