First off, let me be clear: I’m not going to sit here and try to somehow rationalize drunk driving. I will not say that in some way it is OK, and “not that big a deal.” Drunk driving is a serious problem in our country and too many people die because of idiots who drink and then decide they’re fine to drive. No, I will not condone such behavior. But, I am not surprised that a professional athlete was out drinking and then drove home. Nope, that does not surprise me. I was a little shocked when I heard it was Hines, but who are we kidding? We’ve seen pics of Hines over at the Strip Club “making it rain” and didn’t give a wink then. Why? For the same reason I don’t really care about his most recent allegation: There is more depth to Hines than his mistakes. He’s more than a guy who hits a strip club, and he’s much more than just a football player.
For many, Hines is a bonafide hero.I have good friends who have gotten DUIs. I have good friends, even some family, who have had drinking problems. These are not bad people. They are people who at one time or another have either needed help, or simply made a bad choice. Hines is of the latter. Hines made a bad choice. Thank God no one was hurt, and that he was stopped before any harm could be done. That being said, we really don’t know the facts. We know that Hines failed a bunch of sobriety tests, like the alphabet and others, but the authenticity of such tests are always in question. I doubt that Hines wasn’t drunk when he was pulled over in Georgia, but there is a chance that he was greatly fatigued, which could show the same symptoms. It’s wishful thinking, I know, but it is something.
I think we need to consider the fact that Hines is a Black/Korean man, probably driving in the sickest car anyone in Georgia has ever seen, driving in an area of the country where people of color aren’t really looked upon with favor. Yeah, that’s right, this could easily be racism at its finest. It’s a sad, but true fact of the southern states of our Country, and it’s precicely why we need to consider this as a possibility before throwing Hines under the bus.
But even if this is not the case, there is always this: people make mistakes, and they pay for their mistakes. Hines probably made a mistake, but it does not make his entire career and many accomplishments both on and off the field a total wash. It’s not like he’s at the club with a gun strapped up in his sweat pants. It’s not like he just failed his drug test for the 3rd time and then threw a shot glass at a chick in the bar. That is not the kind of behavior we see from Hines Ward. That is not the kind of person that he is. We know this, because he has been under a microscope for the majority of his career. You think it’s hard for you to get away with naughty behavior, just think about being a celebrity. You can bet that Hines has always been a straight shooter, and that he’ll learn his lesson from this incident real fast.
Thus far, he’s handled the allegation with class and grace. He issued a statement apologizing to his fans and to his teammates for the distraction. After winning Dancing With The Stars, he’s got a whole new fan base to apologize to. Not that those people will care, since they’re used to the Charlie Sheens of the world, Hines still looks like a saint in comparison.
All that said, it’s really the other stuff in his life that makes me not really care about this DUI incident. Hines Ward’s Helping Hands Foundation is a wonderful organization that he started in Korea for bi-racial kids who deal with the same kind of racism and discrimination that Hines no doubt dealt with throughout his life. Because of his efforts, and the high profile nature of Hines, President Obama appointed Ward a member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in September of 2010. No small appointment.
So, does he really deserve to be thrown under the bus by his team, his fans, and his family? I don’t think so. Deep down, I bet you don’t think so either. Hines will learn from his mistake. I have no qualms going on the record saying that. I don’t say Big Ben won’t make another mistake, cause I learned my lesson there, but Hines is no Big Ben. Hines has been in this league a long time, and the pressures of being a “big-shot” football player with big guns and big drinks and big parties is beyond him. You can be damn well sure Hines will be back on that football field in 2011, terrorizing his opponents with his vicious blocks and sparkly smile.
I can’t wait to see it.