Pressbox Hat Trick
Rants and commentaries on the latest hot topics in sport. Pressbox and hot dogs not included.
The former Montreal Canadiens captain passed away last Tuesday night at the age of 83.
We will never know exactly how many autographs Mr. Beliveau signed for fans throughout his life. We don’t have statistics on how many handshakes and greetings he gave to fans, friends and even foes. We don’t know how many smiles he put on people’s faces, or how many times people were surprised by “Le Gros Bill’s” height.
In sports we don’t document these statistics, but for those he took extra time to reward their fandom, they will always have countless fond memories.
When an important athlete dies, the media will glorify his or her numbers and accolades. The person’s career highlights will be revisited, and briefly, a few words will be shared about his character and personality off the ice, pitch or court.
Beliveau is one of the few athletes whose persona actually transcended his playing career, yet the legacy he made on the ice shouldn’t be left aside.
Beliveau won 17 Stanley Cups as a member of the Canadiens—10 as a player and seven as an executive for the team. He scored 507 goals in his career and recorded 1,219 points over his career. He spent every year in the National Hockey League with the Canadiens, where he only missed the playoffs once.
Beliveau was so talented before reaching the NHL, that the Canadiens purchased the entire junior league he played in, just to acquire his rights.
But when the towering centre comes to mind, fans, journalists and other admirers bring up stories of Beliveau’s kind-heartedness. From making sure every fan left with a perfectly doctored autograph to the rivalries-turned-friendships that he kept with his opponents from the Detroit Red Wings or even the Toronto Maple Leafs.
My favourite story, of all the ones that have come out since Beliveau’s passing, is what happened after a rookie teammate threw his jersey to the ground after a game with the Canadiens. Beliveau picked up the jersey and walked towards the unnamed player, and told him that the sacred Canadiens uniform was never to touch the ground again.
Beliveau was truly the captain the organization needed for its glory days in the 1950s and 1960s, and he himself understood the importance of being a Canadien.
I have never met Beliveau, and I am actually quite saddened that I do not have a personal story, or even a photo, of me meeting “Le Gros Bill.” But my father had the opportunity to meet him years ago, and he was taken aback by his great and stoic presence.
Every time Beliveau’s name was spoken, thoughts of class and elegance soon followed, and there are very few athletes and sports personalities from any league today who exude these qualities as well as he did.
I, along with many Habs fans and players who have never seen Mr. Beliveau play, truly understand that the Canadiens organization, all of Canada, and the entire hockey world, have lost a notable icon.
We will miss you, Mr. Beliveau.
Blame Game: The NFL Tries to Tackle Domestic Violence, But Does the Judicial System Need More Blame?
Since the running back pleaded no contest to a misdemeanour assault charge, he now has to pay a $4000 fine, will be placed on probation, and will have to perform 80 hours of community service.
The NFL, faced with the latest story in a long line of domestic abuse cases that have plagued the game of football this year, is now left with the decision to either reinstate Peterson or to pursue further disciplinary actions. They will likely garner criticism from the media and fans, regardless of whatever decision they choose.
A major question, that NFL fans, sports fans, and perhaps the general public, should ask is, who should they really be mad at?
Does the NFL deserve the brunt of the blame because they do not have an active domestic violence policy, or should the anger and outrage be directed more towards the judicial system, which previously saw several NFL players get a pass for domestic violence abuse cases?
On May 21st, 2014, former Baltimore Raven running back Ray Rice was accepted into a pretrial intervention program, following the infamous assault of his wife, Janay Palmer, in February.
The New Jersey prosecutors essentially allowed Rice to go into the program, instead of taking the trial to court. If Rice is able to complete the program for 12 months and remain out of trouble, the charges will not show up on his record. The pretrial intervention program has been offered to less than one percent of domestic assault cases from 2010-2013, as first reported by Outside the Lines.
I remember hearing a lot of criticism towards the NFL for their two game suspension of Ray Rice and mishandling of his situation, but not a lot for the New Jersey Judiciary department for granting this generous offer to Rice.
Peterson and Rice were not the sole cases of domestic violence this summer. San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald was also accused of domestic violence charges on August 31st, 2014.
He was accused of beating his then pregnant wife, but prosecutors said that they could not prove that an actual crime occurred, even though investigators said his fiancée had visible injuries.
49ers teammates quarterback Colin Kaepernick, receiver Quinton Patton, and Seattle Seahawks receiver Ricardo Lockette were also arrested in June. All three were initially involved in a sexual assault case against a woman in a downtown Miami hotel. The charges were dropped do to a lack of evidence.
Even college sports stars have been given a free pass by the judicial system. Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston allegedly assaulted a woman on December 7th, 2012, yet avoided prosecution because state attorney William Meggs said that there wasn’t enough evidence to pursue with charges.
However, there are reports from various media outlets, including FOX Sports, that FSU officials and Tallahassee police not only hid, but also tried to hinder the criminal investigation that was taking place. This involved keeping valuable and relevant information away from William Meggs.
There is also evidence that Winston’s DNA was matched with the woman’s underwear that night, although Winston states that it was consensual.
Is it solely the NFL, or the collegiate system’s job to punish players that are accused of these crimes? This is by no way meant to give the NFL a pass for not having a proper domestic violence or sexual assault policy, but rather to gear the blame more on the judicial process.
While in the cases of McDonald, Kaepernick, and Winston, it is difficult to know whether they actually committed the crimes or not, but with Rice and Peterson however, it is pretty clear that they did.
I don’t have a perfect answer but it seems important to ponder if our anger and outrage is not temporarily being misplaced at the NFL while the judicial process hasn’t necessarily done its duty.
Since the publishing of the article on Tuesday, Nov. 18, NFL running back Adrian Peterson has since been suspended by the National Football League for the rest of the 2014-15 season.