Where Truth and Fiction intersect

Lance Armstrong wore it well, as the old song goes. Cancer survivor, twice. Winner of seven Tour-de-France cycling races, often called the most grueling test in sports. Raised millions for cancer research. Scoffed at every accusation of cheating, doping. Intimidated media, friends, teammates into bending the narrative his way. “I’m Lance Armstrong and you’re not, motherfucker. I’m clean, everyone else is dirty and a liar.” Except he wasn’t and he was. Clean and a liar, that is.

Armstrong finally admitted (to a point) last night (to Oprah, naturally) that his whole career was a charade, a scam of the first order that everything else pales in comparison. All that was missing was the jumping on the couch, maybe that’ll come tonight, in part deux. Because he’s Lance Armstrong, and we’re not.

But he’s just another in a long list of cheats and lairs and phonies. And none of these feel shame or remorse in what they do. (Except one, which I’ll mention at the end) Lance Armstrong may end up losing millions and millions on this, in lawsuits and paybacks, but he will still be the smug, arrogant prick he’s always been. Just like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Ray Lewis, Rob Parker, Marion Jones, Ban Johnson, Michelle Bruin, and anyone else you can name over the past 50 years who’s character has been ultimately besmirched in the name of plausible deniability.

Hey, it’s possible for a man to beat cancer, come back and win seven races while everyone around him is cheating, but he’s not. And Barry Bonds hit all those home runs without the aid of PEDs. And the East German’s won all their medals without steroids. Heck, the 1962 San Diego Chargers were all on steroids and won the AFL Championship. Baseball players took “pep” pills during the 1960’s, basically an “upper,” to borrow a 1960’s colloquialism. Think 5-hour energy.

Now, the problem with Armstrong and others isn’t that they cheated or lied or any of that. It’s that the bullied, cajoled and bent people into pretzels into believing their twisted stories and rationalizations. Garry Sheffield said “Steroids are something you take up your butt.” Yes, maybe in the 1950’s and 60’s, but not today. There are always rationalizations. Admissions, not so much.

Think about it.  Not to hard, because you might become me.  But there have been enough books and words written about sports to know what really goes on.  The groupies, the sex, the fights, the drugs.  Just read “Ball Four” and “North Dallas Forty” and you’ll get a good idea of what goes on at the high levels.  And both of those books were written over 40 years ago!  Scratch my back with a hacksaw, that stuff is mild compared to today.

Which brings us to the other story of the week, the strange saga of Manti Te’o.  Te’o is a linebacker for the University of No Defense, er, Notre Dame.   Considering how badly the Irish got beat in the B (S) CS championship game, a case could be made for the former, but I digress.  Depending on whom you believe at the moment (and a poll released this afternoon said that 84% don’t)  Te’o was (or wasn’t) the victim (or mastermind) behind the hoax to beat all hoaxes. Sports Illustrated wrote about it, ESPN did a story.  They were all wrong.

He had a girlfriend, whom he met at Stanford.  Whom he dated for three years.  But, wait, they never met.  She was in a terrible car accident, then the doctors discovered leukemia.  Then she died.  Then,miracle on miracles, she came back to life.  Then it was discovered she wasn’t real or a she and perhaps Te’o was in on it (or maybe he wasn’t).  The picture is real, the girlfriend isn’t.

If  Te’o was in on it, he’s toast. If he wasn’t, he’s burnt eggs.  No NFL team will touch him, after this story.  Something doesn’t add up. And it’s not the 42-14 beating the Irish took last week.

“When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”  If these two, and others, played it straight, we might not have such a jaded, cynical view of everything.  But, as Armstrong and Te’o demonstrated, nothing is as it seems.  It never has been, never will be.  That’s reality.

6 Responses to “Where Truth and Fiction intersect”

  1. Bob Quinn Says:

    Thanks Kent.. I enjoyed your blog.


  2. Jeff Friedman Says:

    Hey Kent, This is one time I disagree with most of what you wrote. First of all, with the whole world crumbling around us, Armstrong and Te’o picked this time to come out as assholes?
    My question: Who the fuck cares? I’m worried about my Social Security and Medicare. I’m worried about more greedy fucks preventing Obama from getting all those assault rifles and high capacity magazines off the street before more children get killed. I’m worried about the approximately 100 certifiable lunatics in Congress who are ready, willing, and extremely able to fuck up anything that comes into their zip codes. And I’m extremely worried for the safety of the President and his family with all those drooling idiots out there ready to blame him for the next asteroid that enters our atmosphere.
    So, frankly, I could care less that Armstrong is a fucking liar and Te’o is delusional. Besides I have as much interest in cycling as I have in soccer and rugby. And hockey.
    Lying, cheating, bullying, strutting? How come neither of those guys is in Congress?
    Next, I disagree with you that Te’o is finished in the NFL. To the contrary, I think, if anything, his NFL stock is rising because of this nonsense. You know the NFL: All they care about is one four-letter word: M-O-N-Y.
    And Te’o has now become a curiosity whom fans will pay just to see, if for no other reason than to shower catcalls upon him. That’s worth at least a 10 to 20 million dollar signing bonus in the NFL of the new millenium..
    Not to mention his memorabilia that will sell faster than a winning lottery ticket. Can’t you imagine a jersey with his name on it, but no number, and a caption like: “Sorry, but my number is invisible like my girlfriend.” Or “Jim Everett may have had the phantom sack, but I have a phantom girlfriend.” And so on.
    What a perfect one-two punch: Tebow and Te’o: Who cares if they’re professional-caliber football players? Each can be the ringmaster of his own circus.
    Finally, I don’t think that Lance will stick around long enough for anyone to grab his millions. He’ll probably flee to whichever country the co-founder of Facebook scurried off to before he could be forced to pay income tax on his billion dollar payday.
    Remember … “Nothing’s too good for The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.”

  3. rollingwheelie Says:

    Jeff, Te’o is dropping faster than your stock portfolio. Or your touts. Look, I could care less about cycling and even less about the sanctimonious shit of either Armstrong or South Bend Junior College. The point I was trying to convey was the old adage, “If it’s too good to be true…you must be Julie Haggerty in Vegas in “Lost in America.”

    As for the rest of your comments, that’s coming…soon.

  4. Robin Says:

    Enjoyed your blog Kent and Jeff I do agree with you “who cares” really. But word to the wise Jeff, get to a patent office immediately and start making those jerseys. There will be a market for them and then you won’t have to worry about ‘your” social security/medicare ever again. (I do agree there are much bigger issues at hand and I think Kent does too.)

  5. rollingwheelie Says:

    As I said, that’s coming soon.

  6. Andrew K Says:

    I always thought the most grueling test in sports was making it through a Simmons mailbag.
    Will await the “coming soon,” but I agree that’s no reason not to call out the BS elsewhere.

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