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Renegade Athletes

Professional sports teams have decided the toxic antics of athletes such as Stephon Marbury, Terrell "T.O." Owens and Manny Ramirez are not worth their superstar abilities
Michael P. Geffner
From the Print Edition:
Entourage, July/August 2009

(continued from page 3)

Eventually, T.O. landed with the off-the-map Buffalo Bills, his fourth professional home in only six years, though, true to form, whining that "everybody nit-picks anything and everything I do" and claiming that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones "blindsided" him. And just days after the Knicks waived him good riddance, Marbury signed with the 2008 champion Boston Celtics, relishing a bit of vengeance—and even spotted smiling, which is as rare as a yeti sighting—by making it to the play-offs while the Knicks didn't. Manny was, predictably, Manny—in major trouble a little more than a month into the season (and his new two-year, $45 million Dodger Blue contract), he was busted for using performance enhancers and suspended for 50 games. Around a month after the Stars waived the trash-talking, dirty-dealing Sean Avery, who had agreed to seek professional anger management, he returned to his old team, the Rangers (via the American Hockey League's Hartford Wolf Pack) in March, but in the first round of the play-offs was yanked a game by his coach for goonish behavior—in consecutive games, popping his stick under the chin of one opponent, then bloodying another with a fist to the face. And Plaxico Burress, well, he was waiting for his day in court, lost in that weird, uncomfortable nether zone between freedom and incarceration and wondering if he will play in the NFL in 2009.

Where we go from here is anyone's guess. Are we really in the midst of an era of accountability in sports? Will the bad actors continue to pay for their misdeeds, finally suffer consequences like the rest of us, and be forced to show some character or else?

Or was last winter nothing but a crazy coincidence, a freaky fluke, a terrible, terrible tease?

Freelance writer Michael P. Geffner lives in New York City. His work has been acknowledged by the annual anthology Best American Sports Writing.

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