Saturday, July 22, 2017

Own It

Great pinnacles of success and fame all too often have their co-dependent depths of failure and disgrace.

And, often, the faster the rise in prominence, the more dramatic the fall from grace.

A good man and a good coach (not a perfect man, nor a perfect coach) fell from grace last week.  There, but by the Grace of God, go all men.  And, as with all men in disgrace, this good man has no one to blame for his fall but himself.

But, then again, maybe that's not completely true.  Maybe some of the fault for a good man's tumble from a pedestal of prominence belongs to those of us who put him there.

We shine glory on public personas, in particular (but by no means exclusively) winning college football coaches.  We, not so much they themselves, build cults of personality around the men who lead our favorite teams.   The coach becomes a mythic being, bigger than the team he leads.  We follow his every utterance, yearn for a glimpse of him in public, seek his signature on a souvenir, cheer the announcement of his name.  

We Ole Miss Rebels made Hugh Freeze the celebrity he became.  

We own the broken man that he is today.

Oh, we can claim to have been misled, hoodwinked, sold a bill of goods.  But those claims are as empty as the Gatorade bucket after a big win.

Hugh Freeze was, is, just a man.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  But we made him more, encouraged his hubris, winked at his feigned humility, and, ultimately, abetted his transgressions.  And, now, Rebel Nation is angrily reducing a good man (not a perfect man) to something less.   

Own it Rebel Nation.  Don't wash the stink of it off of yourself until your contrition is complete.  Don't pretend to be shocked at behavior that should not surprise even the most morally-greased long-distance swimmer in the bitter cold cesspool of human nature.

Hugh Freeze didn't create by himself the bubble of personal perfection that surrounded him like a glowing aura.  He had lots of help.  

Rebel Nation help.  

Mississippi help.  

And, the good Lord knows we Mississippians have a near mortal headlock on the wearing of clean clothes over dirty bodies, presenting ourselves as upright in the daylight while crawling on our bellies in the dark.  

Hypocrisy is our birthright. 

So, let's not kick any harder at the prostrate form of a good (not perfect) man fallen from grace than we would want ourselves to be kicked.

Oh, and this sordid story is not through in its telling anytime soon.  Not by a long shot.  This is the gift that keeps on giving for sports writers and other journalistic moralizers.  This stick will be poked into our eyes for years to come.  We should be inured to that -- there are plenty of other sticks to the eyes we Mississippians have suffered, and will continue to.  

And just when we think the wound has healed enough to remove the bandage of public shame, the scab will be ripped off by the next good (not perfect) man, whose edifice of our adulation we have built on the shifting sands of unreasonable expectation, comes tumbling disgracefully down.  

Own it, Rebel Nation.   We are Ole Miss.                    
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