Blog: Super Bowl, politics have tarnished heroes

7:55 PM, Feb 3, 2013   |    comments
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Elected officials and sports figures are rightly held to higher standards which may be why they often fall from grace.

Two men automatically come to mind this weekend, as Nebraska Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy abruptly resigned Saturday and Baltimore Ravens' Ray Lewis played in the Super Bowl on Sunday.

These two men grabbed headlines this weekend in very different venues but both exhibit enormous feet of clay. 

Let me start by saying that elected officials on both sides of the aisle have their feet of clay, so this is not club that mostly Reublicans or mostly Democrats belong to.

First let's talk about Sheehy. The Republican resigned following the Omaha World-Herald report that he used his state-issued cell phone to place 2,300 late-night calls to four women over several years.

The calls were "long conversations held in the wee hours of the night," according to the newspaper, which said it had requested public records related to the calls.

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman told reporters he accepted Sheehy's resignation on Saturday morning and that it was "effective immediately."

"Late yesterday we became aware of new information regarding the lieutenant governor's personal decisions and subsequently had a conversation with him," Heineman said. "I had trusted him and that trust was broken," he told reporters.

Two of the four women were recently divorced Michele Ehresman, 40, the former head of the Holdrege Chamber of Commerce and a former school board president there.

Another woman, Dr. Theresa Hatcher, served on the Bellevue City Council. According to the newspaper, Hatcher said she had engaged in a four-year affair with Sheehy and that he had promised they would marry someday.

Know that Sheehy's wife filed for divorce last year after a 29-year marriage she called "irretrievably broken," so likely she found out before the newspaper did.

It's more than probable Sheehy, 53, will abandon his gubernatorial aspirations for 2014.

This begs the question: why not just ask Sheehy to repay the phone bills and use his own phone from now on? Isn't that just using taxpayer-funded items for personal use?

That being said, I highly doubt that those calls are the sole skeletons in his closet and more will come tumbling out soon.

Now Lewis is a different matter.

On Thursday, it was exactly 13 years ago when two friends from Akron, Ohio were stabbed to death outside a nightclub in Atlanta after the 2000 Super Bowl.

Jacinth Baker and his friend, Richard Lollar, were stabbed to death at a club party. Lewis and two others were originally charged in the murders.

Lewis originally was charged with two counts of murder but struck a deal with prosecutors in exchange for his testimony against two of his companions that night, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting.

Four months later, Lewis pleaded guilty to a much lesser charge: obstruction of justice. A jury also decided the other two men killed Baker and Lollar in self defense.

Lewis never directly linked his two friends to the killings. Lewis had testified that Oakley, Sweeting and another man had gone to a sporting goods store the previous day to buy knives.

Baker's blood later was found in Lewis' limo. Having fled the crime scene, Lewis told the limo's passengers to "keep their mouths shut."

The white suit Lewis was wearing that night -- on Super Bowl Sunday -- was never found.

Lewis will end his pro football career -- getting a year of probation and a $250,000 fine by the NFL for his actions that night -- Sunday night.

But the relatives in Akron of the two who were killed still have no answers or closure.

So, looking at two people being held to a higher standard when it comes to their personal lives and morals, which seems to have dodged the bullet and why?

Yes, I know, no one died because Sheehy is a philanderer. But what is irreparably damaged in all the cases is the belief in the "hero."

Think two-time presidential candidate John Edwards, think Bill Clinton, think Eliot Spitzer, think Mark Sanford.

Think Barry Bonds, think Marion Jones, think Rosie Ruiz, think Lance Armstrong.

You just never know what feet of clay your hero has.  


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