These are the moments that make me shake my head. These are the moments my jaw drops, my eyes open wide, and my initial expression becomes some muddled utterance of… “really?” It also becomes a moment where I am most prone to being seduced by disrespect.
It was a mere fleeting moment. The TV network, in fact, didn’t even broadcast the incident, as we’ve gotten better in some parts that way; we try not to promote what’s not wise to be promoted. It occurred during one of my favorite activities, “Monday Night Football.”
The Rams were visiting the 49ers at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California last Monday. Shortly before halftime, a young man ran onto the field. (I had to chuckle; I thought I heard one of the play-by-play announcers initially identify the man as a streaker; he wasn’t, but it makes me snicker as to why we always assume the person running for his life on national TV is naked.)
The non-streaker was identified as animal rights activist Alex Taylor. He ran onto the field, illegally, during play, disrupting the game, holding some sort of pink smoke flare, eluding officials, attempting to bring attention to himself, purportedly to bring more attention to the trial of two friends belonging to his same activist group, who allegedly stole a pair of piglets from a Utah pig farm five years ago. (For the record, most seem uncertain what he actually brought more attention to. C’est la vie, perhaps.)
Taylor ran across the field in a zig-zaggy, non-straight way, clearly desiring to have his 15 minutes of fame extend as long as possible. Multiple security officers were chasing him, unsuccessful in their immediate apprehension attempts. Hence, as he neared the Los Angeles bench, Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner stepped onto the playing field and treated the protester exactly as he would any perceived opponent sprinting down the sideline. Wagner flat out decked him. The man was then arrested and removed from the stadium.
(Said incident was perhaps best articulated by former ESPN — now NBC Sports Edge — writer/commentator Matthew Berry, who said: “Bobby Wagner destroying a smoke bomb-toting fan last week was hilarious. It was also the best (and only?) tackles anyone even slightly connected to the Seattle defense has made all season.)
But none of the above was my… “really?”
Two days later the fan on the field filed a police report against Wagner. The claim is reportedly for “blatant assault.”
So let’s get this straight…
An adult man chooses to charge the field. He intentionally chooses to break the law. His behavior is knowingly illegal. I don’t care if he’s trying to bring attention to animal rights, states’ rights, or the right for everyone to read the Intramuralist. Taylor deliberately acted unlawfully.
When we do something unlawfully — even if not deliberately — there are consequences. Taylor’s intentionality shows he knew he would face consequences.
But instead of taking individual responsibility, bearing those consequences, he instead has decided to blame someone else for what happened to him. Who does he think is responsible for his professed plight?
The “really?” comes at the audacity of an adult to blame someone other than self.
The “really?” comes at the immaturity of a grown man wanting to absolve himself of individual responsibility.
And the “really?” comes from the idea that a man who chose to act illegally is any kind of victim.
We have two choices when things go awry in our life, friends. One, is to play the role of victim… look around… find someone semi-convenient to blame.
Or two, we can own it… reflect… and ask what we did that contributed to the situation.
That would be unquestionably and immeasurably wiser.