Victim of Success

Joe Paterno, Plaxico Burress, Dick Cheney, Lauren Cook, Jim Tressel, Tiger Woods……all have one thing in common – They are victims of success. Paterno and Cook have been the latest big names to surface with law-related issues. Cook, a volleyball star at the University of Nebraska, was charged with a felony for leaving the scene of an injury accident. Paterno, an iconic figure in Penn State history, has been linked to the child-sex abuse case of former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

All of the aforementioned public figures have made a simple mistake that an regular person could. Paterno alerted the athletic director when he learned of a potential problem, but failed to alert police. Burress took a handgun into a nightclub, something that isn’t all that uncommon, and suffered a self-inflicted gun shot wound. Cheney accidentally shot someone he was hunting with. Cook continued on after sideswiping a motorcyclist before calling police to check on the accident. Tressel failed to turn his players in for receiving what the NCAA calls “improper benefits” from a local tattoo parlor. Woods committed adultery.

All of these situations are simple decisions that change the life and the legacy of the individual. They are also situations that happen more often than most probably know. Not everyone is caught. Not everyone has to be all over the news when they make a poor decision. One thing is for sure, you can bet they all wish they could have a chance to do it again. Many people get a second chance without dealing with the scrutiny. Not these folks. They are forever linked with their poor decision.

NU volleyball player Lauren Cook walks outside of County Courthouse Ten with her lawyer Terry Dougherty for a hearing scheduled at the Lancaster County Courthouse in Lincoln. (CHRIS DORWART/THE WORLD-HERALD)

Lauren Cook, for instance, could begin play this weekend for a team that she helped climb to the top spot in the nation, but it won’t be without many people arguing she should be kicked off the team for what she did. The night the news broke of Cook’s accident all you had to do was search her name on Twitter and you could see the negative comments directed toward her. People commented that she was “a terrible person”. In reality she wasn’t a terrible person. She was the victim of being scared and not thinking clearly at the time of the incident. Cook was charged with a felony, but it could be dropped with the completion of a diversion program. The setter for the No. 2-ranked Cornhuskers could be back to action very soon.

Paterno is, without a doubt, the hottest name in sports right now after the child-sex abuse scandal was revealed. The coach did what he was legally obligated to do when he learned of the situation, but because it was not morally right people are calling for his ouster.

For the record, I do not believe what these people did was the right

Former No. 1-ranked golfer, Tiger Woods, is still trying to rebound from poor choices he made that resulted in the loss of a marriage.

thing to do. All of them have or will face the consequences for their actions. Why is it, though, that we spend so much energy as a society to try and dethrone the successful. People who make these mistakes and don’t hold a position with authority have to deal with their situations but they don’t have to do it with a thousand people breathing down their neck. Is it because of the image it could leave behind? Or is it simply because we are a jealous society that thrive off the failures of the successful? Some will argue that these people put themselves in this position. While that is partially true, they also are in these positions because they have God-given abilities that they chose to make the most of. There are many people who would have loved to have an opportunity to be in these higher up positions. However, when you don’t work for it and/or catch a few breaks it is impossible to attain these dreams and goals.

You can dislike people in this world for many reasons. You can dislike them for their choices. You can dislike them because of who they represent. For those you dislike, I’m sure you have a reason. But it is ridiculous that we continue to cheer to see others fail.

Some will sit and argue that these people had wrong doing and “I would’ve done the right thing”. It is very easy to sit here in our simple lives and say what we would or wouldn’t have done in a given situation. Most of the people who do this have never been in a spot light even close to these people. You live a simple life. You don’t have to worry about the media and many other things.

The next time you make a mistake or a poor decision and you want someone to forgive you or you want a second chance think of the times where you didn’t want someone of power to have a second chance.

Now, do you deserve one?

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3 thoughts on “Victim of Success

  1. Tom Krings

    Joe Paterno does not fit into the group you described above. Not one of those people woke up every single morning and actively made the same mistake over, and over again. A mistake that put young boys in great danger. He knowingly allowed a child molester to roam his sidelines, use Penn State facilities, and associate himself with the University. Making one mistake in the heat of the moment is not even in the same universe as what Joe Paterno did. No one is calling for his head because they’re jealous of his successes, or mad at him for using his God-given talents to the best of his abilities. No one is thriving off seeing his downfall. Absolutely no one is cheering to see him fail. People are calling for his resignation/firing because he made egregious, sickening, unforgivable mistakes every single day by letting a danger to society roam free with no consequence. I agree with almost all of your outlooks on sports and celebrity and some of the deeper meaning in sports, which is why I’m surprised you were so off base with this blog post. I just hope that none of the victims families ever happen to come across this post. You talk about second chances — JoePa had a second chance every day he woke up after first learning of Sandusky’s conduct. There’s a difference between not getting a second chance, and not seizing a second chance.

    1. John Thayer

      I generally don’t defend myself over every negative comment written about me. It comes with the territory. People have their own opinions and not everyone is supposed to agree. The only part of this comment I will respond to is the part that says, “I just hope none of the victims families ever happen to come across this post”. I feel it necessary to make it clear that I do not in any way condone the actions of Mr. sandusky. I do believe Paterno should have went to the police. I would like to think I would have if I were in his situation. I also think we all make decisions that we don’t think through or think about as much as we should. Fortunately for most of us those decisions were not as severe as the one involving Mr. Paterno. Thank you for your input.

  2. Jordan Bass

    I agree with all the above from Tom said. I also agree with the general premise that people enjoying tearing successful celebrities down. However, the majority of people (or me at least) are not calling for Paterno’s ouster because they are jealous of him, they can’t believe that he didn’t call the police when the report he made to the athletic director was not followed up on and then allowed Sandusky to remain around the program (as evidenced by letting him lift weights on campus the week before the grand jury report was released). Honestly, how many molestation’s could Paterno, and the AD, and the GA, and anyone else who knew have stopped if they had gone to the police when they originally heard of the allegations? The number of victims is getting close to 20 and anyone who had knowledge of the original allegations and swept them under the rug should not be defended, they could have stopped future attacks. Lastly, to say that everyone lives a simple life because they don’t have to deal with the media is odd. If anything, people with the money and opportunity to delegate tasks (such as Paterno) live a much simpler life than you or I. They certainly have more scrutiny from outside parties but Paterno had 10 years for his “second chance.”


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