Thursday, March 6, 2008
The Tears of Ordinary Men
As I listen in the background to the blubbering retirement speech of Brett Favre, I can understand his being moved to tears after 17 years of NFL ball. What I don’t understand is the selective great weeping obsession of the mainstream media, an obsession which seems selective and morbid. I can’t imagine boxers crying as long or as profoundly as the Packers quarterback and I certainly can’t imagine the camera focused on their faces at a public crying event like a news conference.
Listen, I’ve nothing against emotion in sports. Boxers sometimes cry when they lose matches, and they cry also when they win them, but the cameras do not move in to capture every tear as they did in the Brett Favre seemingly 3-hour waterworks drama. Are a boxer’s tears not as valuable as those of a football player? Isn’t there something a little latte or elitist about this? There were no tears even when Muhammad Ali retired, and he is the greatest boxer of modern times, None for Lennox Lewis. None for Caesar Chavez, nor Roberto Duran. None for Archie Moore or Rocky Marciano (although his death in plane crash accounted for some). I could list a lot of fighters who were great, and not so great, and not for any were there any tears in retirement.
And yet boxers are the greatest athletes of all time. They are proud and enduring, alone in a sport that rips your heart out when it’s not lifting you to unprecedented heights of challenge and emotion.
I guess, for fighters, the silence and the forgetting is familiar, just as are the tears of ordinary men.