Ron Fournier, "Why Te'o Hoax, Armstrong Lies Should Matter to Washington". January 17
Pat Forde, "Notre Dame presents believable explanation for Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax". January 17
On an unnerving night when it was hard to know what to believe and who to trust, Jack Swarbrick convinced me.Chin quivering and voice catching, the Notre Dame athletic director fought emotion in describing Manti Te'o as "the single most trusting individual I have ever met." I know Swarbrick fairly well over the course of maybe two dozen interactions, both professional and personal – well enough to have a read on his personality. This was not a high-paid suit engaged in damage control; this was a man who sincerely believes that the most popular Fighting Irish football player in decades was wronged far more than he was wrong.
Pat Forde is not a stupid man. Neither is Mike Greenberg, who took the same tack this morning.
I don't know Jack Swarbrick. Maybe he's the last honest man in America. If so, then, maybe he could hire some investigators to look into those two rapes, the reports of victim intimidation, and the death by suicide linked to his football team. Now would be a good time. When they happened would have been even better.
Because otherwise, Jack Swarbrick is the mouthpiece for a bunch of well-heeled and self-righteous sharpers, and the only damage they're concerned about is damage to the brand. You wanna vouch for him personally, fine. Do so in person. In public, Jack Swarbrick is not entitled to wring his hands, and shed a couple tears, and have the rest of us, including professionals, lose our senses. He is entitled to call a press conference and fall on his sword as a momentary distraction. But that moment has now passed. You wanna take a wait-and-see attitude, fine. Please, do the rest of us the courtesy--we're the ones who do not have any accused rapists playing ball for us--of leaving the insults to our intelligence to the people who have a buck to lose.
Stories like these leave knots in our stomachs, because we so desperately want to believe our sports heroes are pure. We have the audacity to hope, too, that our politicians are at least competent. It's the same for movie stars, CEOs, pastors, generals, teachers, cops and leaders of all sorts: We build them up and break them down because we expect so much out of our national institutions.And, as I wrote nearly a year ago, most institutions are failing to adapt to these times of great change. What if, in the future, that trust isn't restored?
I did not "find it hard to know what to believe" last night, and I have no marrow-deep desire to find a sports hero, let alone wish for his purity. I won't claim that either opinion certifies me sane. I will say that the opposite should at least give you pause.
I appreciate the sentiment, Mr. Fournier. I even clung to it once, in my salad days. I'm not sure how a ten-year-old child could harbor any illusions about public honesty any more; maybe we should just fucking go ahead and break the news to 'em. I agree with you that trust needs to be restored. But not in the future. Yesterday.
But politicians take note? Please. You're at least sixty years late, in terms of the current cycle. Lies are the fucking official denomination of our politics. Half of your fellow citizens pledge fealty to a political party which believes in nothing but self-aggrandizement, full speed ahead, and it doesn't matter to it which side of a Sacred Principle it comes down on, or was espousing as recently as yesterday afternoon. That's the party of Principle, of course. The other is a set of craven careerists and bagmen, dedicated to the unspoken Principle that it's really best not to make too big a deal about things. Like the slaughter of a couple dozen elementary school students. Enjoying that debate, are we? Utter, jaw-dislocating stupidity and little of it coming from actual politicians, aside from the few who can reliably be found sucking up whatever nickels are lying around loose. That debate is Money vs. Reluctant Sensibility. Wanna bet on the possibility of simple, sensible control measures ever appearing in a fucking bill, let alone beginning to ease, slightly, a national disgrace?
For that matter, anybody wanna put money on Jack Swarbrick?