The Matrix- Welcome, to the Real World.

Call it the true Matrix Redux. It's that black hole between reality and subconscious/fantasy that more and more athletes are finding themselves. Unfortunately, unlike the original film "The Matrix" this stuff is not made up AND it's typically constituted of the sports celeb's own volition. And it is, more often than not, self destructive.

Terrell Owens alleged suicide attempt- nay, publicity stunt- is the latest (and to date greatest) testament to what the rest of us outside of a professional football field, baseball diamond, basketball court, soccer pitch, and hockey rink already know. You need to be responsible. Period. End of story. Personal responsibility for your self being, your deeds, and your world (both individually and communally).

No one says it is easy. But what have so many of the rest of us learned that athletes have not? Sure the argument can be made that 20-something year-olds and millions of dollars are a recipe for disaster. (
I won't even address that absolute absurd notion of teenage millionaires. That's just a given level of tradegy not needed to be addressed here.) But really, why should we let that be their excuse. I know when I was 20 years old, sure, I may have done some stupid things, but I was a fun-loving college kid who was enjoying a wonderful college experience. And the reason I could do so was because I had been brought up with scruples by my family to love and respect myself and those around me. And more importantly I was taught that I alone was responsible for my actions.

T.O. is 32 years old. Yes, he was the 20-year old millionaire once upon a decade ago. But has he learned nothing since his youth? With all the B.S. he has experienced (most by his own hand) in San Fran, Philly, and even now Dallas, does he not stop to think about his self-destructive behavior? OK, so maybe he is clinically depressed, and yes, that requires legitimate medical attention. Fair enough. Get help, so we can talk about the demons.

But what about Chris Henry (and half the Bengals),
Odell Thurman (suspended 1 yr for substance abuse), Terrence Kiel (shipping Rxs), Sam Brandon (bond and restraining order violations) Fred Smoot (ahoy Cap'n), et al.? The disturbing trend of substance abuse and extreme off-field behavior in the NFL is getting a bit over the top (good luck Mr. Goodell). T.O.'s situation is downright bizarre, and actually does NOT really reflect the irresponsible behavior of his contemporaries as much as it just adds to the drama that T.O. needs in his life to be thrust into the spotlight.

When you enter the NFL, you enter "The Matrix". That place between all life's desires naively fulfilled and being (gasp) normal- at least having the freedom to struggle for normalcy. And maybe, these guys are spending a little too much effort trying to escape their illusionary prison and public expectations. The pressure to perform is great. The pressure to be a mature individual should be greater.

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