He accepted responsibility. That's what's important here, isn't it?
After Sal Alosi stuck out his knee and tripped Nolan Carroll of the Miami Dolphins, who was charging down the field on punt coverage, the replay of the Jets strength and conditioning coach's action was shown four or five times during Sunday's Dolphins-Jets telecast. Then it was replayed another, oh, 1,000 times on television stations across the nation, and another 453,653 times (and counting) on YouTube. On Monday Alosi, in the words of sports dunderheads everywhere, manned up.
Yes, what Alosi did -- deliberately wiping out Carroll as he ran at full speed -- should have resulted in his immediate dismissal (he was suspended without pay for the remainder of the season and fined $25,000). And yes, Alosi's apology was straight out of The Idiot's Guide to Career Survival. And yes, it is now impossible for any right-minded Homo sapien to root for the New York Jets.
But, in the words of Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum and Rex Ryan, New York's loudmouth head coach, Alosi has "taken ownership" of his mistake.
"He made a mistake," Ryan said, "and he admitted it."
In the real world, where 99.9 percent of us reside, whether one admits to a mistake or not makes absolutely zero difference in the end result. When, a couple of years ago, a pal of mine was accused of frequenting a pornographic website at his job, he fessed up and apologized profusely. "Sorry," he was rightly told. "You're fired." When another friend was recently axed for talking back to her boss, she admitted her mistakes and promised to change. "Too late," the chief said. "We've had enough." Steal a pack of cigarettes from behind the counter at CVS -- you're done. Curse out a customer at Cosi -- hand in your apron. That is how the world works, and no matter how many I was wrongs are uttered, well, you're toast.
Sports, however, isn't the real world. Not even close. As soon as Alosi stepped into the confessional booth (the Jets' media room) and stated his obvious-to-everyone-with-working-eyeballs sins, he was forgiven and, quizzically, lauded. It's the way these things go in organized athletics, where somehow we've all been brainwashed to believe the words "I'm sorry" warrant a gold medal.
Five years ago, an accused steroid user named Jason Giambi held a press conference at Yankee Stadium to apologize for ... something. Everyone assumed he would admit to cheating with PEDs, but he never did. Everyone assumed he would state his wrongs, but he stated little. He said he was sorry five times, but not what he was sorry for. It was a pathetic showing by a terrified man, and in any other walk of life Giambi would have been relentlessly mocked, flogged and tarred.
Most of us, however, applauded Giambi's guts and courage. George Steinbrenner even issued a statement, which said in part: "It takes a hell of a big man to stand up and apologize to his teammates, to New York Yankee fans and to baseball fans everywhere and admit he was wrong."
Ever since, many athletes have followed suit, "manning up" to mistakes that a "real man" would have never committed in the first place. From Alex Rodriguez to Andy Pettitte, performance-enhancing drug infractions are forever forgotten with a mere mea culpa. Cleveland Browns nose tackle Shaun Rogers carries a loaded gun in his luggage? He apologizes -- all's good. Chiefs running back Larry Johnson spews anti-gay slurs? He apologizes -- and is forgiven.
In sports, first chances turn into second, third, fourth and fifth chances, because in sports normal societal judgments don't apply.
When are athletic figures going to apologize before being caught? Would the myriad steroid cheats have admitted their wrongs were there no bloodhounds seeking out the truth? Was Rogers genuinely remorseful about the gun, or was he genuinely remorseful about being caught with the gun?
What if Carroll had missed Alosi's knee? Would he still cry before the press, begging for a second chance? Or would he be thinking about where to place his knee during next week's game against the Steelers?