Paradise – For The Rest Of Us

Devil’s Island was an infamous penal colony back in the early part of the 20th century; it was an island of exile off the coast of French Guiana; it was a place of horrible torture and forced labor for political exiles for more than 50 years. Today, in 2008, policy wonks in Washington are considering options for closing down Guantanamo as a holding place for suspected terrorists and I have an idea what they can do with Guantanamo once they get the suspected terrorists out of there and on to some other venue.

Guantanamo can become an isolation station for sporting figures that we need not hear from or about ever again. For many of them, their form of “torture” will be that they will forever be “non-persons”; they will have no media attention; no one will care what they think, say or do. Contemplate the peace and quiet – and the public safety may I add – that might ensue from such an idyllic state of affairs…

First, we need a name for this isolation station. Let me suggest Paradise – For The Rest Of Us (P-FTROU) – - “the rest of us” being humankind who do not need any continuation of the assault on our sensibilities by the miscreants and attention whores in the sporting world. And who might be primary candidates for a one-way trip to Paradise For The Rest Of Us?

Let me start with any and all of the people who have votes for the baseball Hall of Fame who refuse to vote for any player in his first year of eligibility solely to preserve the useless continuation of a tradition that no one is a unanimous inductee. We have heard from these folks for about 70 years now; it’s time to banish them.

While we are thinking about voters who use their voting privilege to further a narrow end instead of the common good, we can round up all of the Heisman voters who refused to vote for Tim Tebow in the top three slots on their ballot this year in order that a candidate from a conference closer to them geographically would win the award. Merely disenfranchising these folks is insufficient; get them out of here.

Another class of people who can begin boarding the plane to Guantanamo is franchise owner who continuously signs anti-social miscreants to new contracts so that these miscreants can continue to afford to be threats to society or huge annoyances to the rest of us. Jerry Jones would be the first of this class or people to find himself in P-FTROU; any owner who signs Michael Vick would wind up there 8 hours after the ink was dry on the new contract.

Isiah Thomas should go too. Since he ended his playing career, he has failed as an executive in Toronto, driven the CBA into bankruptcy, horribly mismanaged the NY Knicks, coached the Knicks poorly, enabled anti-social behaviors on the part of Knicks’ players and was found guilty of sexual harassment. Does anyone really need to hear more from or about him? I do not.

Stephon Marbury belongs there too. Can anyone suggest to me what decrement might accrue to civilization if Stephon Marbury lived out his days in isolation? I didn’t think so.

Pacman Jones – - no further words needed here…

John Daly could go there to dry out – or not as he might prefer. Once he is in P-FTROU, he can eat and/or drink himself to death – - or not – - because none of that will matter to any of us anymore.

Tonya Harding would likely require sedation to go there because there will be no limelight there for her to find her way into. And once she is there proximal to John Daly, the guards will need to be particularly vigilant lest the two of them produce a spawn. Even chlorine might not be sufficient to cleanse that portion of the gene pool.

Fay Vincent belongs in P-FTROU. Imagine never having to hear his predictably sanctimonious criticism of MLB on any issue at all. If Bud Selig and his boys found a cure for cancer, Fay Vincent would surely have done it a different way. We have heard his “act”; he is a one-trick pony; he can talk to himself and the other banished folks all he wants at P-FTROU and they will not mind because they will not listen to him.

Brett Favre would be a conditional exile. He should be ordered to make a decision on whether or not he will retire from the NFL sometime in the next two weeks. He should then announce that decision and stick to it – no matter which avenue he chooses to walk down. Additionally, he must stick to that decision in silence because the first time he leaks a story that he might change his mind, he will be sent to P-FTROU faster than the “beam-me-up-Scotty-machine” would get him there. Oh, and if his agent floats that story about “Brett changing his mind”, then the agent gets banished too…

David Beckham needs to head on down to P-FTROU. He came to the US to save US soccer. That didn’t work; and once he found that every time he blew his nose it was not tabloid headline news here, he had to find a way to go somewhere else. Frankly, I don’t care if his wife goes with him or not but she seems awfully “attention-needy” to me…

Lance Armstrong would spend the rest of his days in P-FTROU were it my decision. I don’t read minds so I don’t know for sure, but his comeback to competitive cycling seems far more the work of an attention whore than the drive of a born competitor who cannot live outside “the arena”. From my perspective, he has worn out his welcome in the real world and needs to go into isolation.

Let me posit a world where you might never have to hear another word about Mike Tyson, Don King, David Stern, Gary Bettman, the commissioner of the WNBA [If you can name this person, you are definitely in the minority.], Terrell Owens, Plaxico Burress, Roger Clemens, Kelvin Sampson, Latrell Spreewell, Yammering Hank Steinbrenner, Jaques Rogge or – hold onto your hats here – Michael Phelps. Now wouldn’t that be a kinder and gentler world for you?

I can hear you saying that it will never happen. Well, I doubt that it would ever occur to those policy wonks in Washington who are trying to figure out what to do about closing down the detention facility in Guantanamo; but here is the kicker for our new President as he thinks on this matter.

He can also use Guantanamo – reincarnated as P-FTROU – as a place to put all of the people who use the BCS as a means to obstruct the creation of a college football playoff. This is how he can “throw his weight around”; get those people out of the picture and ensconced at Guantanamo until the forces of logic and good will have instituted a college football tournament/playoff. Then the President can use his pardon powers to give them the chance to repent and to return to the world as supporters of “change we can live with” or to continue to reside in P-FTROU. The rest of us can live with that…

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…

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  • JJC  On January 22, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    I’m willing to pardon Phelps, for now, due to the fact he is an Olympian and they have a really short timespan to make what they can before fading into oblivion. Plus, I get the feeling it’s more of the fascination of the media for him than the other way around.

    I’d also remove the conditional tag from Favre. He has pulled the “I’m thinking about maybe, possibly, kinda, perhaps retiring” gambit too many times. He had his chance to leave as the stalwart hero of the land and pissed all over it. Twice. Then set it on fire. He just needs to go into distant memory where we only remember the good.

    I’m also sending Madden there too. Just on principal. On a plane. Same reason.

  • Matt  On January 22, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    I echo JJC’s thoughts on Farve. He has played this trick one too many times, he should just go before we remember him as “the guy who came and went and came and went and then got his leg shattered when he came back one too many times…”

    I read this post with great anticipation of seeing one name. Maybe he has been gone too long to be an issue – that he has faded to a degree where we don’t need to send him to P-FTROU to save ourselves, but on sheer principle alone.

    Dennis Rodman

    If ever there was a sporting attention whore, he was/is it. Is there a statute of limitations? If not, he needs to go, and go first. Give him all the hair dye he wants down there – nobody will care, but we’ll all be happier for his being gone.

  • Rob  On January 22, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    I want to point out that the best wide reciever in the league at the moment has not had one diva moment yet! It would be nice if Chad 85 (I refuse to spell his last name anymore) and T.O. could follow Larry Fitzgerald’s example.

    Proof that Micheal Phelps 15 minutes are up: I overheard a group a college age girls complain about how many magazine covers he’s been on! If that’s not the demographic for his fan-base then I don’t know what is.

    Now I got to go mentally cleanse myself of the image of John Daly and Tonya Harding having kids…

  • Murray  On January 22, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    As much as I admire the thinking that has gone into the list, I’d like to suggest a different tack.

    I’d exile the political/military bureaucrats who dreamed up the idea of the detention centre in the first place.

    Then I’d give the whole shebang back to its rightful owners, the Cubans, and let the exiles take their chances. That would solve two irritating problems at once.

  • Rich  On January 22, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    Curmudgeon: I agree one hundred percent with your nominees for inclusion for P-FTROF. You have not suggested a cheerleader or a hunting ‘sportsman’. Might I suggest George W. Bush and Richard Cheney for the P-FTROU compound? Also, to preserve the ‘historical site’ ambience, leave the old Gitmo razor wire in place along with the current policies on contact with the outside world. I don’t want to hear about them….or from them.

  • Andy  On January 22, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    Phwoah! Looks like SOMEBODY woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning!

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On January 22, 2009 at 11:38 pm


    I’ll agree to take the “conditional tag” off of Favre if you will allow Phelps to go to P-FTROU now. Yes, he has a time window in which to exploit his Olympic accomplishments. Nevertheless, he has become hugely annoying already.

    I think the US Supreme Court would not allow you to send John Madden there on a plane. Cruel and unusual punishment – - and all that kind of stuff.

    And I purposely decided not to include sports broadcasters on my list – to keep the reading time down below three hours.


    Dennis Rodman has been so quiet and isolated for the last four or five years that he is no longer annoying. Even if he is still attention-starved, he scratches that itch without imposing himself on “The Rest Of Us”. For that reason, he gets a pass from me.


    Sorry for the mental image you need to cleanse. Meditation should help.


    But if we give it back to the Cubans – with politicians in residence – then we’d have no ready place to send all of these annoying sporting figures. Unless Pitcairn Island is for sale…


    If you get me started on political figures I really never heed to hear anything more from or about, Guantanamo would fill up quickly. Let me foreshadow that list for you; Congress would find it difficult to assemble a minyan let alone a quorum.


    Actually, I thought I was having a good day today…

  • Ed  On January 23, 2009 at 1:28 am

    I’d pull Daly off (he’s only hurting himself, really..) and add NHL comissioner Alfred E. Bettman, the man who cancelled a season – put in a cap – and now that payrolls on several teams are down – ticket prices soared. The NHL was on ESPN, now it’s on Versus, with lower ratings than the test pattern. The NHL was gaining on the NBA 15 years ago, and they signed the Captain Hazelwood of pro comissioners away from the NBA. I wonder if the NBA pays him for his sabotage.

  • Rob  On January 23, 2009 at 1:55 am

    I would take John Madden off the list, if only because he is unintentionally hilarious. Plus, he’s the source of a lot of great impersonations.

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On January 23, 2009 at 10:47 am


    Granted Daly is hurting – perhaps killing? – himself; but he has become an annoyance because of the coverage that his self-destruction garners. If I never heard from or about him again, I would not feel that my life had been diminished.

    I agree on Bettman; notice I had him on the list of folks who – if you never heard from them again would make your world kinder and gentler.


    You are onto something there. If Madden has to go to P-FTROU, then Frank Caliendo has to be there too…

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