Sports week stained with shame, embarrassment

  • Floyd Mayweather Jr., left, and Manny Pacquiao battle in the most anticipated fight in recent times Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

    Floyd Mayweather Jr., left, and Manny Pacquiao battle in the most anticipated fight in recent times Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Associated Press file photos

Posted4/29/2015 5:30 AM

The world of sports can only hope that the Kentucky Derby winner Saturday doesn't carry any anti-social baggage.

No sexual assault charges. No domestic battery. No recreational drug use. No banned performance enhancers. No DUIs. No guns. No nothing.


Other than the Derby, the rest of the week in sports is shaping up as an embarrassment.

Adventures and misadventures will intersect, besmirching the image of all athletes even though most are decent citizens.

Floyd Mayweather Jr., who has been charged six times with domestic violence, is poised to make $180 million for his fight against Manny Pacquiao.

Jameis Winston, in and out of trouble with the law, is the presumptive No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft.

Alex Rodriguez, a pariah to his Yankees' bosses for lying and cheating, is about to pass Willie Mays on baseball's career home run list.

A movement was begun urging fans to boycott the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. Sorry, ain't going to happen.

Despite Mayweather's transgressions, boxing fans will pay big bucks to see the sport's biggest spectacle in years.

Buccaneers fans longing for an elite quarterback prospect will hold their noses and welcome Winston to Tampa Bay.

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Yankees fans will cheer A-Rod's feat even as the team resists paying him a bonus because of his PED use.

(Let's not even start to get into how many NFL teams would line up to sign Aaron Hernandez if he were freed on a technicality.)

Sports fans and franchises have a remarkable capacity to separate an athlete's professional performance and personal behavior.

The norm is that good guys are condemned if they fumble and bad guys are commended if they score touchdowns.

Let's focus on Mayweather, the biggest name in boxing since Mike Tyson, who coincidentally served time in prison for rape.

Hey, these are men who make their living punching the faces of other men. For many, boxing was their only way out of troubled environments but sometimes even then they can't escape them.

Fight fans smile and nod and wink and ignore the dark side of boxers. I smiled and nodded and winked and ignored the dark side of Jumbo Cummings.

A lifetime ago, Cummings spent 12 years in Stateville for murder. I was working in Rockford when he came out in the mid-1970s to fight in a ring set up in the basement of a saloon called Sheree's.


Cummings was driven out in a van. He was in leg irons. They were removed long enough for him to quickly knock out an opponent. They were locked back on. He was driven back to Joliet.

The audience was thoroughly entertained by this, well, this murderer. A couple years later, another writer and I went to Stateville to profile the man with Jumbo muscles.

Cummings was released and in 1979 began a brief but eventful boxing career, including a draw as Joe Frazier's final opponent.

The Cummings saga drew many followers as he posted a 15-6-1 record. Then in 2002 he was sentenced to life in prison for armed robbery.

I'm guilty of compartmentalizing my memories of Cummings the criminal and Jumbo the fighter.

So it will be for countless sports fans this week concerning Mayweather, Winston and A-Rod.

The Kentucky Derby winner should be a cut above those guys, though there's no telling what the horse's jockey, trainer and owner have been up to.

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