Pop quiz: What sports story of the past several months does New York Times columnist William C. Rhoden find the most disturbing? Why, it's Bobby Petrino leaving the Falcons to take the Arkansas job, of course. It bothers him more than the Michael Vick dog fighting story, more than The Mitchell Report and more than the sexual harassment suit involving Isiah Thomas and Madison Square Garden, among other notable scandals of late.
Writes Rhoden, "Why do I find the Petrino episode more disturbing than [track star Marion] Jones, Vick and the fallout from the Mitchell report? This was a variation of the same lie, of deceit, but more cold-blooded. A trust was broken. The culprit was not a player, who, by definition, is single-minded and self-absorbed. This was "Coach," the person, much like a shepherd, who is entrusted with the well-being of a group."
I don't read William C. Rhoden much, but when I have, he's struck me as a thoughtful and sober-minded observer of the sporting scene. But, it appears that the ESPN-generated vapors have gotten a hold of him. As I've said before, the way that Petrino left the Falcons was definitely less than commendable (it was sort of like breaking up with your girlfriend via text message), and I'm under no illusion that the guy is someone I would want to have a cup of coffee with. But, this story is more unsettling than the Vick scandal, with its revelations about the systematic killing of dogs? To each his own, I guess, but still ... wow.
[Thanks to Max Brantley's Arkansas blog for the link to Rhoden's column.]