What is going on with ICONS these days? Doesn't it seem like there are fewer and fewer of them around? I started writing my column entirely about the Barry Bonds trial and the lack of attention it is getting compared to the circus that was December 2003. I had it nearly finished and even found a way to make fun of Rashard Lewis and his six-year $110 million dollar contact he got from Orlando a couple years ago.
But then I was driving around today doing my best to avoid bad Toronto drivers and black ice (The most racist form of treacherous weather) when I heard that Elizabeth Taylor had died. Now for any of you below 30 let me try to put into perspective just how big Taylor was back in her day. Combine the box office draw of Julia Roberts, the scandalous nature of Angelina Jolie and the raw sexuality of Salma Hayek in 'Dusk till Dawn', that was Elizabeth Taylor.
With her passing you are left to ask; who are the active iconic figures in Hollywood? Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep, Dustin Hoffman, Clint Eastwood, the list is shrinking every year. Oh by the way I've booted De Niro and Pacino off the list, don't blame me, blame 'Righteous Kill.'
So this naturally led me to start thinking about who are the greatest living icons in sports and what the hell has happened to so many of them???
You have Barry Bonds who is proclaiming that he never knew that he actually took steroids. How could Bonds not have known what he was taking? Oh sure I may not ask a doctor about the exact medical make-up of what is in that large syringe being injected in me, but I'm a civilian. Double B was a the best player in baseball, we are to believe he was completely ignorant about what some man was injecting in his body? Does B-Squared really seem like the most trusting guy? Hey at least he's playing the dumb card over the race card, a refreshing change in the world of sports.
Speaking of steroids, what about Lance Armstrong? Every couple of months there is a new probe or "revealing"evidence from another former rider accusing Lance of some sort of infraction. Personally I give him a pass. I have a simple rule on this, if you have raised well over $10 million for cancer research you kind of get a free pass from me. Moving on.
Then there is icon in training Lebron James. It kinda feels like he traded in his legacy for the opportunity of a bunch of cheap titles and delicious mojitos.
Michael Jordan's legacy just keeps getting worse and worse. From that gawd awful Hitler moustache, his venomous Hall of Fame Speech and the sad state of every franchise he has run, Jordan would have been better off as a celebrity pit boss at Caesars after his playing days were over.
Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith & Evander Holyfield: Here's another simple rule, if you have participated in 'Dancing with the Stars' please hand in your "Icon" card to the nearest Kiosk.
Finally there is my favourite fallen icon, and as a NY Giants fan it pains me to bring this one up, but how about Lawrence Taylor's recent justifications for sleeping with an underage prostitute????
Here are three quotes from Taylor, guess which one is a fake:
(1) "I'm not the cause of prostitution. And sometimes I make mistakes and I may go out there. And I didn't go pick her up on no playground. She wasn't hiding behind the school bus or getting off a school bus. This is a working girl that came to my room."
(2) "It's the world of prostitution," he said during the Fox News interview. "You never know what you're gonna get. Is it gonna be a pretty girl, an ugly girl or whatever it's gonna be."
(3) "I'm not looking for a relationship. Hey, sometimes I look for some company. It's all clean. I don't have to worry about your feelings. It's all clean. I'm not saying it's right. It's the oldest profession in the world."
The best part, they're all real! I love his honesty but man how the mighty have fallen! Remember the good old days when LT was using golf as an escape from his vices. Now he's just a poor man's Charlie Sheen.
There are so many examples to pick and choose from. Really all this tells us is that athletes are no different than everyone else with the exception of the crazy amounts of money they have made and their freakish once in a lifetime athletic ability.
I'm going to end on a high note. I wanted to come up with my list of living iconic athletes. The
Elizabeth Taylor's of professional sports. The guys who changed the game, galvanized the sporting public and (unlike the players I have mentioned) have done precious little to tarnish their legacy. Everyone on this list was at their peak at least 25 years ago but still are a part of our collective consciousness. Please feel free to add to this list. Let's be honest I'll miss about 728 who should be part of the discussion.
(1) Muhammad Ali
(2) Jim Brown (I know he has had multiple issues with the law, some of them very serious, but the man devoted so much of his life to helping out so many different communities, I can't leave him off.)
(3) Hank Aaron
(3) Bobby Orr
(4) Bill Russell
(5) Willie Mays (From all reports he's a jerk to many people he meets, but still, it's Willie Mays!)
(6) Jerry West
(7) Bob Gibson
(8) Oscar Robertson
(9) Gale Sayers
(10) Dick Butkus