A word about pedestals, and their inherent fragility.
I've listened as both national media and fellow Gamecock fans have pilloried South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney for a list of sins to rival Congress': lack of effort/heart, quitting on his team, selfishness, faking an injury so he won't have to play and thereby risk a real injury which would, in turn, dent his NFL draft status (a theory that makes no actual sense, if you think about it, but why do that).
I hear talking heads on GameDay report, with the gleam in their eye surely shared by the bubble-headed bleached blond in "Dirty Laundry," tell listeners, repeatedly, that Clowney didn't ride the team bus to the stadium for the Arkansas game, then mumble a while later, after actual media reports trickled through, that they were wrong, and he did.
I hear all this, and then I watch the game, and I see Clowney, double-teamed with another lineman chipping his way, still get enough pressure on the quarterback to force a rushed throw, a stalled drive and a punt.
Did Clowney really have a rib injury too serious for him to play against Kentucky, when he took himself out of the game?
I don't know. And neither do you. Clowney does.
Here's what I do know. We love to build people up. We laud them and fawn over them and replay their ferocious, helmet-launching hits during the last game of the season ad nauseam (that is, to the point of nausea). And why? Because we're so impressed and amazed and it's fun to make Facebook memes?
Yes, and also because we like to tear those same people down.
As cool as it is to admire someone, it can be far cooler find the chink in his or her superhero armor, the blemish that spoils the perfect picture, the flaw that makes them no better than anyone else - no better than us.
It's human nature, but that doesn't mean it needs to be justified or excused. Lots of things are human nature. Taking a magnifying glass to a june bug, poking the body with a stick, wondering for a split second what the victim was wearing - all these things could be considered human nature. Some things we must try to rise above.
Now I read that Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez is questionable for tonight's Game 3 against the Cardinals. Few have ever questioned Ramirez's talent, but like Clowney, his heart was called on the carpet during his time in Miami.
I don't know if Ramirez always played hard, night in and night out, in a ballpark that often resounds with cheers for the opposing team. I do know that he's played hurt, and still well, for most of his time in L.A., and particularly in the postseason. He hit .500 in the Dodgers' 3-1 series win against the Braves in the NLDS despite a nerve problem in his back and lingering shoulder and hamstring injuries that require daily stretching and cajoling.
I have a bad shoulder. Sometimes I reach too far for something and scream a bit. I don't go hit home runs after.
Ramirez will be a game-time decision with a fractured rib. Wonder how much it hurts to try swing a bat with a broken rib?
I don't know, and neither do you. Ramirez does.
Whether Clowney or Ramirez or anyone else who made headlines this week or last or will next is in pain or a prima donna will always be up for debate. Talk is cheap and incendiary words get more web hits than reasoned arguments and well-sourced reports.
That much I'm sure of, and my plan going forward is to stick to what I know. Wouldn't hurt others to do the same.