When the news hit last week that Indianapolis Colts receiver Marvin Harrison might -- and let me stress might here -- be involved in a shooting near his North Philadelphia business, one of the first things that people had to say was this:
That doesn't sound like the Marvin Harrison we know.
|Marvin Harrison usually sits alone instead of with his teammates. (Getty Images)|
Yet as news spread that Harrison might be involved in something that could put him in jail if he is indeed officially linked to it, the reaction by most was that they must have the wrong NFL player. It can't be Marvin Harrison. He can't be doing the Mike Vick thing.
The truth is we don't know as much about our athletes as we think we do. The reality is we don't know as much about anyone as we think we do.
How do you know your co-worker doesn't play naked Twister every Thursday with his neighbors? Do you, Freeman? How do you know one of your neighbors isn't fighting mental illness, only he's hiding it? How do you know your old high school buddy doesn't beat his kids?
We really don't know people like we think we do. When Ted Bundy was doing volunteer work, did anybody have any idea he was a serial killer?
I'm not comparing Harrison to a serial killer. From people who know him -- and I don't -- they say he's a far better person than that. So don't go getting nutty on me and imply I'm comparing him to Bundy. What I am saying is that Harrison is just the latest athlete, or person, to show faults, human faults, that we sometimes are shocked to see or hear about. But we really have no idea what's inside a person's head, do we?
What most see in Harrison is a quiet, private person who happens to be a special football player, one of the all-time leading receivers, and a player who could actually challenge Jerry Rice's receiving records if he could stay healthy for the next few years.
What they don't see is a player who openly pouts when he doesn't get the football, although Harrison does indeed do that. Watch him during a game. Harrison sits by himself when the offense isn't on the field, away from his offensive teammates, and his body language seems to worsen when the passes aren't coming his way. I've seen it with my own eyes. Yet his reputation is that of a stand-up guy, not one of those look-at-me receivers.
See, we don't know him.
Harrison is just like the other players at his position. He wants the ball and when he doesn't get it, he's not happy about it. Harrison just doesn't go to the media to complain about not getting the football. In fact, he avoids the media for the most part, which leads to the mystery of the man.
That type of demeanor may have helped him in this situation. Can you imagine the media circus had the receiver at the core of this been named Randy Moss, Terrell Owens or Chad Johnson? The circus would have resembled the paparazzi feeding frenzy that surrounds Britney Spears' every move. TMZ would have eaten it up.