Titans tight end Delanie Walker has gained recognition this offseason for his work with MADD to combat drunk driving, a crime that has been a staple of PFT‘s police blotter since the day it come into existence.
Walker was pushed in that direction through tragedy, the death of his aunt and uncle at the hands of a drunk driver after the Super Bowl in February, and that’s helped him gain notice for his efforts over the last few months. Not nearly as much notice as Aaron Hernandez has gotten, of course, and less than players involved in less sensational crimes tend to get when they run afoul of the law. Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com spoke to Walker about the difference in coverage that good deeds get when compared to those who break the law.
Walker said that a lot of players feel that the media ignores charitable deeds and other good acts and then piles on when a player gets arrested. It’s hard to argue with that assessment, be it on these pages or elsewhere, but Walker seems to be well aware that you can’t pile on to a story that doesn’t exist. He cautions other NFLers that they can’t blame others when they are responsible for their own actions and that they can’t really complain about people saying they’ve done something wrong when they go out and do something wrong.
“What I tell players is that you are looked at everywhere you go,” Walker said. “Someone is always trying to get something on you. If you go into a bar and get into a fight, it will become public. That’s on you, not the media.”
NFL players who have never done anything wrong have a right to be upset at being painted by a brush colored with the alleged activities of Hernandez and others, but the realities of the world are such that the negative always draws more interest from media, fans and especially those who don’t follow the sport unless someone’s misdeeds lead the story to cross over to non-sports realms. It’s too simplistic to blame one group for this, especially when former and current NFL players and executives use cases like Hernandez’s to make themselves look prescient even though they were careful to keep their thoughts to themselves until just after things hit the fan.
It may not be fair that these stories get so much space, but, as almost everyone’s parents said to them at some point during childhood, no one ever said life is fair. Walker’s advice wisely takes that into account and makes it clear how NFL players can avoid unwanted attention.