When Sports Heroes Fall from Grace

It’s always painful when our heroes fail us.

As die-hard Chicago Bulls fans, my son and I watched Jimmy Butler from the very beginning of his career. In his rookie season he got limited, but valuable playing time due to his defense. He gave 110% every time he was on the court.

All Star forward Loul Deng recognized Jimmy’s potential and took him under his wing. They trained together and Deng served as a mentor for how to be game ready, every game. Working his ass off, Jimmy blossomed and in 2015, Jimmy was named the NBA Most Improved Player. He also was named a reserve for the NBA All Star Game.

This was the start of the payoff for all Jimmy’s hard work. And we were thrilled for him. Most importantly, he was humble about his success.

My son and I were such committed Butler fans that we said if he ever got traded, we’d switch our team allegiance. For Bulls fans as dedicated as we are, that was quite a statement.

But in just a few short years he let success go to his head and he turned into an asshole. In his mind he was more important than the team. You can’t win with that kind of attitude. He chastised other players and clashed with the coaching staff. Things got awkward between Jimmy and the Bulls, with Jimmy ultimately telling the Bulls they had to choose between him and the coach at the time, Fred Hoiberg.

At the start of the 2017 season Jimmy Butler was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves. By then my son and I were over him. He was no longer the modest star who we had come to admire. He was an asshole. We did not switch allegiance to the Timberwolves. We were glad to see Jimmy go.

Jimmy didn’t last long in Minnesota either. Within a year he had become completely toxic, forcing a trade to the Philadelphia 76ers. Again, he was a cancer and had to go after just one year. He has been with the Miami Heat since 2019.

In the world of NFL football, Aaron Rodgers will go down in history as one of the greatest quarterbacks in the game. In addition to being fun to watch on the field, Rodgers had a certain charm that led to success in television ads and even a stint guest hosting the popular gameshow Jeopardy.

I have been a long time Rodgers fan. But he has also fallen from grace.

We live in a pandemic, which requires us to be conscious of our fellow people. In the NFL, players are not forced to be vaccinated, but they must disclose whether they are or not. This is for the safety of all players, coaches, and media.

Rodgers told the public he was immunized, and he participated in things like media sessions without a mask. He lied.

Rodgers has now tested positive for COVID-19. He has also revealed that he isn’t immunized. Rather, he has been treating himself with ivermectin horse de-wormer based on medical advice from comedian Joe Rogan. Granted, that’s his choice to make – but to lie and say you’re immunized is unacceptable.

I am not normally hyper critical of others. I far prefer to be one who focuses on the positives. And, as someone who has made more than my fair share of mistakes, I try to be understanding of when others falter.

However, Jimmy Butler didn’t falter. He became and stayed an asshole. Aaron Rodgers may have told one lie, but it is a lie that affects a lot of people. It is his continued efforts to defend his lie that are even more inexcusable.

So, I’m not saying Jimmy Butler and Aaron Rodgers are lost causes. At one point, not long-ago, they were worthy of hero status. I hope they can return to positive form.  But right now, they are assholes.

With the exception of Mother Theresa, we have probably all had at least a few moments of being an asshole over the course of our lives. It’s tough to look in the mirror and realize your faults. It’s even harder to make changes to how you think and act in order to be a better person. It takes effort. It takes honest self-reflection. Yet, it can be done.

Peace. Love. Trust.

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