Sunday, November 09, 2008

Can pro athletes think beyond sports?

Professional athletes are not known for their political acumen. Just look at John Elway -- diehard McCain supporter who campaigned with him in Colorado. He gets points for getting involved. But he's just another one of those rich athletes who was glorious on the field but became a fat-ass golfing Republican upon retirement. And why not? Elway really made out with Bush's tax cuts for the rich. And he stood to make even more dough with McCain's plan for even more tax cuts for duffers. How much money do these people need? Remember Elway refusing to visit with Bill Clinton after the Broncos Super Bowl win? He's only become worse with time.

Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall was a big Obama supporter during the recent campaign. He wasn't the only one, but seemed to be the leader of the pack. Here's how Denver Post sports reporter Lindsay Jones describes an election day interview with Marshall:

Marshall, who has been one of the most out-spoken Barack Obama supporters in Denver’s locker room throughout the fall, said he got to his local voting precinct at 6:20 a.m. He said the process was easy and he was out by 7:10 a.m. It was his first time voting. He wore his “I voted” sticker on his hooded sweatshirt, but because he was shirtless during the interview, he took the sticker and put it on his forehead.

Marshall caused a frenzy Thursday night when the Broncos played Cleveland. Denver went ahead with just 1:14 left on the clock behind a touchdown pass from Jay Cutler to Marshall. In the end zone, Marshall pulled out a black-and-white glove to celebrate Barack Obama's victory two night's before. His teammate Brandon Stokley intervened, thinking that Marshall's move might penalize the Broncos for delay of game or unsportsmanlike conduct. Marshall was quoted later that he wanted to make the same sort of salute as black U.S. athletes Tommie Jones and John Carlos made at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. As most commentators noted, Marshall's was a good-hearted salute that came at the wrong time for the Broncos.

Maybe so. But it's good to see a pro athlete thinking about something more than himself. I always wonder why we don't see more of that sort of spirit from athletes. Sure, there's basketball great Bill Bradley as a U.S. senator. And everyone remembers Roberto Clemente's ultimate sacrifice when he died flying in earthquake supplies to his native Nicaragua. Sure, there are a few other examples. But most pro athletes are self-absorbed and know little beyond their own playing field.

Marshall thinks beyond the gridiron. I admire him for that.

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