We realize that only two days ago we defended largely unlikable Bears quarterback Jay Cutler from a mailed-in attack by ESPN’s Rick Reilly. But since Reilly has yet to attack Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, we feel no need to defend him. (Yet.)
In fact, we’re going to attack him a little. (Maybe Reilly will come to his defense.)
Rodgers makes a lot of money because people are willing to pay to watch him do what he does, and because they’re willing to sit and watch him do it on television, while being bombarded with advertisements and networks promos.
Without fans, football would be lacrosse. Or indoor soccer. Or postseason baseball.
So football players need to be willing to pause and sign an autograph or two from time to time. Especially when the person seeking the autograph is female, is wearing copious amounts of NFL-licensed pink apparel, and has very short gray hair.
There’s a pretty good chance that any person fitting that description is a cancer patient. And if the NFL is going to allow the official uniform to be infiltrated by pink patches and gloves and cleats and stripes every October, high-profile NFL players need to be willing to stop and sign an autograph for someone who fits the profile of a person who is in the fight of her life.
WBAY-TV has the video evidence. Watch Rodgers breeze by Jan Cavanaugh, refusing even to acknowledge her existence. (The good news is that linebacker Clay Matthews treated her with warmth and respect.)
Hey, it’s a free country. Rodgers has an inalienable right to choose to behave like an ass. And the rest of us have an inalienable right to tell anyone who’ll listen that he’s behaving like an ass.
Rodgers needs to realize that without people like Jan Cavanaugh, whose passion for pro football prompted her to go to the airport after a radiation treatment in the hopes of getting Rodgers to sign the pink hat with the Packers logo that she always wears, make his entire lifestyle possible. Otherwise, he’d be no different than a guy who’s really good at throwing darts or horseshoes or cornhole bags. He’d derive personal satisfaction from the use of his God-given skills, but not much if any money.
We hope this strikes a chord with all pro athletes. The fans are the reason you get paid the big bucks. And it would be wise to show some gratitude, especially when it’s obvious that one of those fans isn’t blessed with good health.
We also hope that Rodgers and/or the Packers track down Jan Cavanaugh and make it up to her. The fact that Rodgers would crap on a rare moment of happiness for someone whose entire life in consumed by fighting the disease and contending with the physical, mental, and emotional effects of it should make the stomach churn of anyone who has cancer, or who has seen a loved one stricken by it.
In other words, everyone.
UPDATE: The folks at WBAY, who probably should have realized that the station’s relationship with the only team in town may have been undermined with the publication of the video of Rodgers treating a cancer patient like a panhandler with leprosy, apparently have taken down the clip. The key moment has been uploaded to YouTube. Check it out before it disappears, too.
FINAL UPDATE: After time to reflect on the matter and to digest the opinions of others, I decided that I reacted too quickly and too harshly. We’ve apologized to all involved, but we also opted not to simply erase the original item, in fairness to those who want to understand where we started on this one, and where we finished.