The horrible tale of Frostee Rucker
Frostee Rucker is a defensive end for the Cincinnati Bengals. He was drafted in the third round this year after a decent career at USC and, before that Colorado State. Why two schools? Ah, we'll get to that.
On 21 June Rucker was charged with assaulting his girlfriend. I assume that's why ESPN ran a story about him. This kind of thing happens all too often in the major sports leagues. Two days after this incident Brett Myers, who pitches for my hometown team, the Phillies, was arrested on the same charge. He is a foot taller and outweighs his wife by well over one hundred pounds, but he slapped and hit her in the face in public. The Phillies let him start a game two days later. Sad.
Rucker's story is even more pathetic, I would argue. Why? Well, he could be innocent of this latest charge, and the woman could be out for some of his newfound NFL dollars, because we all know that that's all women care about. But it's unlikely, because he's done this before. More than once, actually. In high school he was found not guilty of sexual assault, with several members of the community coming forward in his defense because he was such a good football player. In April 2002, while at Colorado State, he was accused of sexually assaulting a female student who eventually decided not to testify, as well as exposing himself to a different woman. The charges were dropped, but the damage to Rucker's "reputation" meant he had to leave school, so he transferred to Southern Cal. Now he has been charged with hitting his girlfriend. I'm pretty sure this is the girl they interviewed on ESPN, and the incident took place in August 2005. It appears that is what these latest charges are about. The girl had a witness to the whole thing and got pictures of her various bruises.
Now, of course there is the whole innocent until proven guilty thing in this country, and I have read a couple of places how irresponsible it was of ESPN to run this story before Rucker had his day in court. Well, sure. But let's consider this guy for a while. Seven years ago, when he's fifteen, he's charged with raping a girl. He gets off not because he's necessarily innocent, but because he has a lot of potential as a football player. Then, at CSU, the charges are dropped, but he still has to leave the school. Would CSU take away his scholarship unless there was something going on? Gary Barnett's scandal-ridden program at Colorado wouldn't touch this guy. A football factory like USC would, however. I cannot believe, either, that the student at CSU knew about the charge in high school (he went to high school in California, not Colorado), and I doubt if the girl at USC knew about the situation in Colorado. So three different women accuse him of abuse, and over a long period of time? Hmmmm. And Marvin Lewis, who has spoken often about having guys with "character" on his team, drafts him. Why? Because "character" means squat when a guy can play football.
It's been said many times before and it probably won't change, but justice doesn't really exist in this country. Frostee Rucker will probably never pay for what he's done, as long as he can play football. He might get "community service" or some other slap on the wrist, but he will make a lot of money and continue to act this way, because no one will hold him accountable. His coaches will say "he has a problem" (he does) and he needs counseling, but they won't say, "He needs to be locked up because he's a menace." God forbid! When someone has the talent to rush the quarterback and stuff the run, we need to be forgiving and caring. When his talent gives out, then we can throw him in jail.
None of us are innocent, either. Whether it's sports stars or celebrities or even politicians, we look the other way if we like them. Is George Bush a criminal? It depends on if you like him or not - if he plays for "your team." When Terrell Owens was cutting a swath through the Philadelphia Eagles, a lot of fans were on his side as long as he was catching touchdowns. All Owens did was want more money, so the parallel isn't exactly the same, but if he had done something worse, as long as he was performing, fans would have loved him. As I was looking for news stories on Rucker, I read a couple of message boards where they talked about what a great guy he was and how they hope he can "move past this" and continue his career. The message boards were, predictably, USC Trojan and Cincinnati Bengal ones. If it's "our guy," we look the other way. It's disgusting.
I'm a big sports fan, but I hope I have gone beyond this sort of thinking. If the Eagles drafted Frostee Rucker, I hope I'd be pretty pissed off. Maybe I wouldn't be. I was not on Owens' side in the dispute, because nobody held a gun to his head to sign his crappy contract (one that paid him seven million dollars a year, more money than I'll ever see) and I like Donovan McNabb. Of course, now we hear that McNabb might have not been as wonderful as we thought in the whole thing, but again, this is just about stupid men with too much testosterone. If McNabb started raping women, I'd like to think I wouldn't defend him beyond saying he deserves a day in court. The problem is with athletes and other celebrities, they don't even get a day in court. They simply plea bargain out of it and pick up some trash and read a story to underprivileged children. Because that's "justice."
I don't really care if Rucker is innocent or not. I kind of hope he is, but that would mean that several women are lying, which is almost as disgusting as a man raping them. We may never know. But I do know that as long as he can play, Rucker will make millions of dollars for playing a game. It's too important to the rest of us.
I wonder how Woody feels about this. Woody, are you out there? Let us know what you think of your team's draft pick!