By Ryan

Remember when Condi Rice was asked by the 9/11 commission the title of a PDB from August 6, 2001, and she had to respond, “I believe the title was “Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States.””?  Of course you do.  Can you imagine what she had to be feeling at that moment?  I mean, she had known that the administration was going to come under public scrutiny once this information came out, but to be forced to say it in such a public setting in such a sure-fire-sound-bite manner had to make her a bit squeamish.  I think this is how Michael Phelps must feel when he sees Ashton Kutcher defending him on Access Hollywood.

He even dresses like a moron

He even dresses like a moron

You see, Phelps is a rare breed of modern celebrity; he has only one remarkable skill set, and it’s only particularly useful every four years or whenever he’s being chased by a shark.  Because of the phenomena of the Olympics, where average citizens inexplicably care about sports you couldn’t bribe them to watch otherwise, Phelps can avoid the spotlight for the 206 Olympic-less weeks every four years, emerging only when he wants and where he wants.  That is to say, he is not Kobe Bryant, with the LA lights always on his every move; he is not Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds, still paying repercussions for wrongs they might have (probably) done years ago; hell, he’s not even Kutcher.  He’s a guy who lives in Baltimore and gets to chose which endorsements to take for millions and which parties to attend with whatever star-of-the-moment he’s currently hanging out with.

So it’s understandable that no one mentions his 2004 drunken driving incident, which occurred when Phelps was just 19 years old.  After all, it doesn’t make for good hype when you’re NBC and you’re trying to make Phelps the most famous American athlete of his generation.  He was young, he made a mistake, blah blah blah, I get it.  But now people are going to give him a break on this marijuana incident?  Please.

The average defense goes something like this: he’s 23 and all 23 year olds smoke weed.  Bullshit.  First of all, I know plenty of 23 year olds who have never done an illegal drug.  And, secondly, star athletes (and celebs in general) are held to a different standard than the average 23 year old kid.  As well they should be.  Most of the income Phelps earns is from endorsements given him because of his all-American good-boy image.  If people start to see him for who he really is-a dumbass frat boy with pretty limited talent-those endorsements could go away rather quickly.

Look, I’m all about second chances.  But second chances don’t have to mean getting to keep your $100 million in endorsement deals.  Second chances means you don’t get stripped of your medals, and you don’t get fined and get another black mark on your legal file.  Do I think smoking weed is a big deal?  Not really, but it is illegal, and if we’re going to rake other athletes and celebrities over the coals for their transgressions, then Phelps should get no free pass.  He’s proven himself irresponsible and, in interviews and an SNL appearance, uninteresting, and it’s about time he got called out on it.  Phelps, you’re a douchebag.

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