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Wednesday, May 30, 2012
ChatWrap: On stupidity and social impact

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

Sunday's post on the arrest of Detroit Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley drew as much conversation as we've had in quite a while. Some of you, especially in notes to the mailbag, objected to what you perceived as cheap name-calling. In Tuesday's SportsNation chat, a number of you thought the same "name" glossed over the seriousness nature of Fairley's offense.

To catch up: I wrote that the Lions' offseason run of misconduct had moved from "silly" to "stupid" after Fairley was arrested for driving under the influence and attempting to elude police in Alabama. John wrote to the mailbag that calling someone "stupid" was "astounding" and wondered if I would say it to Fairley's face.

To be clear, there is a big difference in writing that someone committed a stupid act and calling them stupid. I did the former but never came close to the latter. I didn't call Nick Fairley "stupid" because I truly don't know if he is. And yes, I don't write anything I'm not willing to tell someone personally.

At the same time, I understand why many of you thought the post was missing something or just not harsh enough. Here was the relevant exchange from Tuesday's chat.

Jon (Colorado)

I have a feeling your life has never been affected by a drunk driver. On Sunday you classified the actions of Nick Fairley as "selfish and stupid". I don't disagree, but the tone of your piece seemed to ignore that his actions were also dangerous and reckless. It wasn't "high-speed driving" that was the main offense committed by Fairley. It was driving under the influence and evading police. Those actions result in thousands of deaths of innocent civilians every year. You did a disservice (I'm sure unintentionally) to the victims of these CRIMES with your article that made it seem like his actions were essentially harmless or merely jeopardized the well being of his football team. He jeopardized the lives of everyone on the road that night.

Kevin Seifert (2:07 PM)

I totally agree, but generally speaking, in legal cases involving football players, I try to keep the posts about the implications on their careers and teams. To me, it's understood that drunken driving is dangerous and often results in deaths. I don't feel it's necessary to establish that fact, but I agree that someone could interpret that as glossing over something more important.

James (St. Paul)

Hey Kevin, I love reading your views on everything related to the NFC North, but I need to take issue with you calling Nick Fairley "stupid." I agree that getting stoned in your apartment is "silly" or "stupid," but getting drunk and driving 100 miles per hour goes far beyond that. Had a mother and her three children been driving the other direction we could easily be calling this act "homicidal," not "stupid."

Kevin Seifert (2:12 PM)

Understood. But again, it was stupid in the context of football because he was already under NFL scrutiny. To me it goes without saying that drunken driving is beyond stupid. It's a serious crime. I don't think I need to acknowledge that every time a player does it, but I agree the post can be interpreted to be glossing over what seems like an obvious fact.

To sum up, Fairley allegedly committed a stupid act that has distracted him from his career and could hurt his team in the short run. In so saying, I'm not diminishing the impact of drunken and/or high-speed driving.

Maybe I could or should have added a line to make that clear. I suppose that if everyone understood the impact, we wouldn't see so many instances of these crimes. But is a football blog the place to crusade against drunken driving? I try to pick and choose my spots to jump into that realm, and this instance didn't seem to need much in the way of analysis. But I appreciate the conversation nonetheless.