October 2, 2014

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Forgive them but don’t ever forget
Written by Bob Hyle   
Tuesday, November 27, 2012 9:39 PM

America loves to forgive its fallen idols. At least they do in Ohio, anyway.

The latest example occurred Saturday afternoon in the middle of the Ohio State-Michigan football game.

In observance of the 10th anniversary of Ohio State’s last national champion football team, former Buckeyes football coach Jim Tressel and members of the team were introduced to the crowd of more than 100,000 Buckeye fans.

Two years ago, Tressel was the center of controversy in Columbus for trying to cover up the actions of a few players who received extra benefits from boosters.

Not only were Tressel and his championship team greeted by thunderous cheers on Saturday, but his former players lifted him onto their shoulders to even more adoration.

Why forgive?
Meanwhile, this year’s Ohio State team completed a perfect regular season, 12-0, but is ineligible for the national championship game because of the sanctions placed by the NCAA on the program based on Tressel’s acts.

Why are Ohio State fans so forgiving?

You could ask the same of Cincinnatians. This city’s 50-year love affair with Pete Rose still amazes outsiders. Rose broke baseball’s gambling rules and lied about it for years before finally admitting, for a few more dollars, that the allegations were true.

Yet, whenever Rose shows up at Great American Ball Park for a game and his visage is captured on the GABP monitors, a huge cheer erupts.

Should Major League Baseball ever forgive Rose and allow him safe passage into the Baseball Hall of Fame, I dare say all attendance records will be broken in Cooperstown for induction weekend.

She married the Juice
Our undying love for sports heroes continues even for such an evil person as O.J. Simpson.

When a documentary filmmaker recently announced an alternate candidate for the murder of Simpson’s ex-wife and another man, by one of southwest Ohio’s own, no less, people were genuinely excited.

I haven’t seen the documentary, but the idea that Nicole Simpson could ever befriend a sociopath such as Glen Rogers seems a real stretch. Then again, she married the Juice.

I don’t mean to lump Tressel, Rose, and Simpson into one barrel. Tressel never committed a crime, Rose’s crime was of the white-collar variety.

Simpson wasn’t content he managed to pretty much fool a jury into believing he was not guilty of murder, but he subsequently was convicted of armed robbery.

Still, we’re suckers for forgiveness, which might make us seem foolish, but in a way also makes us better people.

The ability to forgive others shows a compassion that separates us from those with cold hearts that can neither forgive nor forget.

There are some things that are unforgiveable. Simpson’s acts certainly fall under that heading.

What Tressel and even Rose did was foolish and selfish, but hardly evil. Their egos got in the way, which is partly our fault for building them up into iconic stature in the first place.

They have both learned their lessons the hard way. Tressel lost a job he likely would have held for a lifetime had he been smarter.

Rose would have been MLB’s elder statesman; a person held in such high regard that other baseball royalty would have stepped aside in his presence.

But we forgive them, Tressel and Rose anyway, and remember what was so great about them.
We also wish they had not disappointed us so badly, although, at least in Columbus. Buckeye fans must ponder this:

If Tressel had not tried to cover up his players transgressions, Urban Meyer would not be coaching the Buckeyes today. Now that’s a dilemma.

Bob Hyle covers sports and writes a weekly column for The Harrison Press. He lives in Bright.