When discussing the disturbing case of Donte' Stallworth and its far-reaching repercussions, there's one important name to remember: Mario Reyes.
Reyes is the forgotten figure in the Stallworth tragedy, continuing to unfold coldly and uncomfortably right before our catatonic eyes. Reyes was walking to a bus stop on his way home from a construction job at 7:15 a.m. in March 2009 when Stallworth, legally drunk at the time, struck Reyes with his vehicle and killed him.
|Donte Stallworth will make nearly $1 million playing for the Ravens in 2010. (US Presswire)|
Stallworth, meanwhile, fared much better. He was indeed suspended by the NFL for an entire season yet, incredibly, sentenced to just 30 days in prison for manslaughter. He served 24 days before his release. Recently, less than two weeks after his NFL reinstatement, he was scooped up by the Baltimore Ravens.
For whatever reason in Stallworth's case there has been an atomization of anger from the public as outrage over the signing is as loud as a mouse hiccup.
Stallworth deserves a second chance at life, but does he deserve a second chance at the NFL? So soon, so easily?
How many of you would be able to do what Stallworth has -- shed a felony rap like an outer covering and still make gobs of cash? He's going to earn almost $1 million after killing a man.
The most interesting aspect of this ugly case is the lack of attention and outrage it has generated. It seemed the media and sports fans were more concerned about who Tiger Woods was boinking than Baltimore signing Stallworth.
The public reaction was drastically different in a similar case. In 1998, St. Louis Rams player Leonard Little killed Susan Gutweiler while he, too, was driving drunk. There were protests and outrage, particularly over how Little was allowed to keep his NFL job. That hardened reaction from the public was one of several national player cases that forced the NFL to seriously examine the conduct of its players.
This time, post-Stallworth, the reaction was quiet and there was more examination over whether Stallworth could help the Ravens rather than if he should be allowed back in the NFL in the first place.
It seems we've gotten so used to all the crimes and misdemeanors committed by the athletes we follow, their trysts and tribulations, that our outrage capacity has tryptophaned. All of us are becoming gorged on scandal.
The general public's cynicism about athletes has become so dangerously thick that when the Ravens sign a man who not so long ago while under the influence struck a pedestrian, that signing is met with a collective shrug.
The Ravens organization is one of the best in football. It is run by a good and talented man in Ozzie Newsome. I was born in D.C. and went to high school in Baltimore and always liked the Redskins and Colts/Ravens (yes it's possible to like both). But since the Redskins are now run by a tyrannical little cad, the Ravens are the only team in sports for which I have any affection.
Yet I'm ashamed by what the Ravens have done. That organization isn't a desperate or poorly run franchise like Cincinnati or Oakland. The Ravens are Super Bowl contenders and one of the gems of football. They don't set the bar low, they set it high. Well, normally they do, anyway.
The way the Ravens handled Stallworth's signing was also Tiger Woods-like -- a tad gutless. The team didn't hold a news conference and immediately answer the tough questions. It released a self-serving statement from Newsome.
"We've given a lot of thought to this, and we've done extensive research into Donte' beyond football," Newsome said in the statement. "He has made a huge mistake. There's no doubt about that. He has paid a significant price for that and, as he has said, he carries a heavy weight. As [Ravens owner] Steve [Bisciotti] said, we believe in second chances, and Donte' does deserve that."
Again, Stallworth deserves another opportunity to rebuild his life but when you kill a man, professional football should be out of the question. It's disingenuous (at best) when Newsome says Stallworth paid a significant price. Stallworth paid a very minor one.
If you want to know about prices paid, ask Mario Reyes or his surviving family.
Actually, someone, anyone ask anything about this case. Any kind of reaction would be nice.
Since most of what we've heard since Stallworth signed with Baltimore is cold silence.