The last week was filled with sports stories that were infuriating, heartbreaking, sad and galling.
As a result, Henry Ruggs III will probably never play football again, Aaron Rodgers won’t play for a while and civil discord as we know it may be permanently on the way out in America.
First, the final chapter of the athletic career of Ruggs. The former Alabama superstar receiver was always known for his great speed, his willingness to block and be a great teammate and his tragic yet inspiring backstory.
Ruggs was an excellent basketball player at Robert E. Lee High School. But his best friend, Roderick Scott, had other plans. Scott, a huge Alabama football fan, convinced Ruggs his future was going to be in football, playing for the Crimson Tide.
Scott tragically died in a car accident in 2016 while traveling to the state tournament in Birmingham. The tragedy left Ruggs shattered but determined to make his friend proud. He eventually did sign a scholarship to play football at Alabama. And every time he scored a touchdown, he looked to the sky and held up three fingers (Scott’s high school jersey number).
That backstory was the first thing many fans thought of when they heard the news Ruggs was involved in a collision in Las Vegas that resulted in the death of a young woman and her dog. As details became known, heartbreak turned to outrage. Ruggs was reportedly driving his Corvette 156 mph just before running into the victim’s car. His blood-alcohol level was recorded at .161, more than double the legal limit. He also had a loaded gun in the car to complete the driving-while-stupid trifecta.
Every new detail that emerged made the story even worse. Apparently, the victim survived the initial impact but was trapped inside the vehicle and burned to death.
Ruggs’ football career is over. He’s been cut by the Raiders, who don’t owe him a penny more. How he could make such a series of terrible decisions is hard to fathom. But he will likely have years behind bars to ponder that question.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers didn’t do anything close to what Ruggs did. But he did continue to solidify his reputation (in his own mind) of being the smartest guy in the room.
Rodgers missed Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs because he tested positive for COVID-19. After that revelation, Rodgers admitted he hadn’t been vaccinated, despite what he led the public to believe.
In explaining his side of the story, Rodgers played all the greatest hits, referring to the “woke mob” that was eager to put the final nail in his “cancel-culture coffin.” He also said, “I did my own research,” was the victim of a “witch hunt,” denied being an “anti-vaxxer flat-earther” and somehow thought it was a good idea to invoke the name of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Rodgers admitted to following his employer’s rules that he thought made sense while ignoring the ones he didn’t like. Those are the choices you think you have when you’re the smartest guy in the room.
Rodgers will soon return to the field. And he will be great, which likely means most will again forgive and forget his smarter-than-thou attitude.
Finally, on a local level, I have been repeatedly disgusted this high school football season as high school students from various schools chant “Let’s go, Brandon.”
The origin of the despicable chant began when Brandon Brown won a NASCAR race. While he was being interviewed, some lowlife racing fans chanted the most obscene words possible to denigrate the current president. The journalist conducting the interview said into the microphone, “Fans are chanting, ‘Let’s go, Brandon’” even though it was clear that is not what they were chanting.
The fact that the cheer has since become common at all sorts of events is disappointing. That it’s happening at high school games is a terrible sign of where our country is headed.
I’m not here to argue the merits of any public policy or comment on the quality of the job being done by any politician. But if adults think it’s OK or funny or cool to chant such things then I wonder what they think when their children follow their lead and take the chant to what is supposed to be the most wholesome level of competition.
We can do better. We have to do better.
Randy Kennedy, who has been a leading voice on the Gulf Coast sports scene for 19 years, writes a weekly column for Lagniappe. His sports talk show airs weekdays from 2-6 p.m. on Sports Talk 99.5 and the free iHeart radio app.
This page is available to our subscribers. Join us right now to get the latest local news from local reporters for local readers.
The best deal is found by clicking here. Click here right now to find out more. Check it out.
Already a member of the Lagniappe family? Sign in by clicking here