Special to Page 2
This has been the week of the stupid athlete.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was injured while riding a motorcycle with neither a helmet nor a license to operate a bike. J.J. Redick was arrested and charged with driving while impaired after making an illegal U-turn to avoid a license checkpoint.
Page 2 wishes Roethlisberger a speedy recovery, and we don't think DWI is a laughing matter.
However, both guys were colossally stupid.
Roethlisberger exhibited countless lapses of judgment, the most significant of which was getting on a motorcycle. For someone in his position, the risks of riding a motorcycle would be excessive whether he wore a helmet or not, licensed or ridin' dirty. Redick apparently didn't consider that maybe, just maybe, Johnny Law has a plan for catching drivers who think they're slick enough to avoid a checkpoint. The fuzz might never find Jimmy Hoffa or whoever killed Biggie and Tupac, but it's like Rick Barry at the free-throw line when it's time to catch folks trying to dodge a checkpoint.
It's funny that teams go to great lengths to find "smart" players but tend not to steer clear of the stupid ones. Stupidity isn't measured by a poor Wonderlic score. Stupidity is just stupid. It's like that cliché line about pornography -- we might not be able to tell you what it is, but we know it when we see it. And when we see it, we scrunch up our faces and ask "What was s/he thinking?"
That is stupidity.
For some reason, athletes tend to do more utterly stupid things than folks in the general population. Leave it to the psychologists to figure out why.
But when it's time to find a way to curb this disturbing trend, leave it to Page 2.
According to Professor John Clayton, the NFL management council advises teams to include provisions that allow them to recoup money from players injured "for any reason" outside football.
Why stop at injury? The real problem, whether someone gets hurt or not, is stupidity.
La Page Deux has given up on teams' abilities to weed out stupid people. But we're certain that if teams did more to punish utter stupidity, athletes' judgment would improve. With that in mind, we've compiled a list of acts that should result in automatic forfeiture of a year's salary and a chunk of bonus money.
Riding a motorcycle
Really, the closest any athlete should get to a motorcycle should be reading the works of Che Guevara. Considering the primary purpose of transportation is helping people move between points A and B, the excitement of riding is a useless luxury that can't be rationalized.
Take Roethlisberger. He said he rode his bike because it was a way to relieve stress.
Look here -- there are much better ways for the 24-year-old quarterback of the Super Bowl champions to blow off steam. It's not hard to figure out which one you would choose. And it ain't getting your Knievel on.
This is the third young star to be seriously injured on a bike in the past three years. Old star Jeff Kent did the same a few years back. The risks are known. Even thinking about a bike should cost these folks millions.
Driving while intoxicated
Best-case scenario of driving drunk -- making it home. Worst case -- killing someone.
In between? Getting pulled over, having your name plastered all over television for performing what's considered the most irresponsible act one could commit, taking an invariably dreadful mug shot, having to defend your character and putting the reputation of your employers in danger.
Yet these rockheads continue to drive drunk, even though they can afford limos and cabs.
Driving drunk doesn't make someone a bad person. But it's really, really stupid. And for that reason, it should cost these dudes millions.
Perhaps Redick considered that when he noticed that checkpoint. Unfortunately, his backup plan was
Trying to drive away from the police
One of the perks of being an athlete is having a fast car. Coincidentally, that's also one of the perks of being a police officer. And, as anyone who watches the news in Los Angeles can tell you, cop cars are like Secretariat in chases.
But it's not just that the cops catch their targets. They also tend to be in really, really bad moods when they have to waste gas chasing people stupid enough to think they can get away.
See, there's that s-word again. And you know what that means.
Any crime committed at an airport
Since Sept. 11, airport security has tightened. It's not foolproof, but sneaking something through screening just isn't smart. Especially if you're trying to sneak a couple ounces of marijuana wrapped in aluminum foil through the metal detector a la Damon Stoudamire, who somehow thought he needed to bring weed from home to a music festival. Because, you know, no one's ever high at a music festival.
Anyone stupid enough to try to fight the law at the airport is likely to do something to embarrass more than just himself or herself. That's too risky.
So it's gonna cost.
Not knowing when to lie
As kids, we're taught we should never lie. Then we grow up and realize that's pure poppycock. To survive in this world, we often have to look people square in the eye and lie our asses off. Every baby we see is cute. Every meal someone else cooks for us is great. And whether she's wearing a Vera Wang gown or a burlap sack, she looks fantastic.
Lying is a staple of adulthood.
But lately, people have forgotten that. Randy Moss admitted he has smoked a blunt or two while he's in the league. What made him think that was the right thing to say?
After all his ups and downs with the Pacers, Ron Artest said Rick Carlisle was a good guy but he didn't like playing for him. That surely was the truth, but it wasn't what he should have said.
Terrell Owens where to even begin?
It's too dangerous to have someone around who doesn't know when to lie. Some people call that candor. We call it stupid.
Having illegal drugs shipped to your home
Jason Grimsley's affidavit might have led many people to believe the feds are on the right track when it comes to cracking down on steroids, but Grimsley is really just another fool the feds got lucky enough to stumble upon. We're not trying to give advice on how to break the law, but it doesn't get much dumber than having contraband sent to your home. Sheesh, did he also pay with a personal check with his driver's license number preprinted on it?
No wonder the Diamondbacks are trying not to pay him. And we're OK with that.
Without trampling on fundamental human rights, there's nothing anyone can do to eliminate stupid people. But there's a lot that can be done to eliminate stupidity.
This list is just a start. But this week has proved the sports world no longer can wait. It must begin to fight the scourge of stupidity.
The time is now.
Bomani Jones is a frequent contributor to Page 2. Tell him how you feel at firstname.lastname@example.org.