Mind Over Sports

BEING A FAMOUS PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE CAN BE A TWO-EDGED SWORD.

Posted on: March 7, 2012

When I lived in Kansas City, Missouri I had a friend who was a professional football player in the NFL. He was 6’ 8” tall and was considered one of the nation’s top defensive linemen. My friend, who was not happily married, was a national celebrity who had an enthusiastic following of young fans who looked upon him as a role model.  On one of his team’s trips to New Orleans he did something he had never done before: He had a one-night stand with a young groupie. A few months after returning to Kansas City, he found out the young lady with whom he had had the affair was pregnant. She wrote him a note but did not threaten in any way to go public with what had happened. When the baby was born, my friend, feeling he should help support the child, approached his wife and told her what had happened and that he wanted to send the young girl money every month to help her and her new baby. His wife was vehement and would not allow him to help her. My friend became despondent. It played heavily on his emotions and he kept the entire episode bottled-up deep inside himself. He was not proud of what he had done and he knew that if his affair became known it would negatively affect his image and that he would be seen by his fans as a hypocrite. Which he wasn’t. But he would rather die than have his affair become public knowledge. Not long after, because of the stress, which affected his immune system, he was diagnosed as having lung cancer (even though he never smoked but had been working around heavy duty equipment and exhaust fumes) and within 18 months he was dead. I have always believed that if my friend had not been a celebrity, and just a normal mortal being like the rest of us, he would still be alive today.

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