deserve [dih-zurv]: to merit, be qualified for, or have a claim to (reward, assistance, punishment, etc.) because of actions, qualities, or situation.
In a song on their new album, recording artist Anthony J. Brown & group therAPy sing about being thankful that they never got what they deserved.
Truth be told, we all should feel likewise.
Maybe, like me, you never punched a woman (Ray Rice), lashed one with a belt (Junior Galette) or put welts on a child (Adrian Peterson). We never peddled junk bonds (Michael Milken), made a fortune through insider trading (Steve Cohen) or once made Time’s list as one of the “10 most crooked CEOs” (Sam Waksal). We don’t have a history of assault and/or addiction alongside successful TV shows, movies and albums (Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson and Chris Brown).
But most of us have done something – committed some sin of commission or omission – that warranted worse than we received. If we didn’t get away undetected, we were forgiven or excused. We were granted mercy, be it from a friend or family member, a co-worker or supervisor.
They could’ve been done with us, washing their hands and turning their back. Yet, we were given a chance or another chance, even though we arguably didn’t deserve it.
No one has a problem being on the receiving end of grace. We want it for ourselves and our loved ones.
If Rice or Galette or Peterson were our brothers, if Milken, Cohen and Waksal were our fathers, if Sheen, Gibson or Brown were our close friends, we’d encourage an organization to offer them a lifeline, to take them in and let the restoration process begin.
Here’s the thing: It helps if they’re super talented.
Rice, the former Ravens halfback whose videotaped assault on his now-wife shocked and repulsed the nation in 2014, is looking to resume his career. He has no takers thus far. Were he Peterson, the Vikings halfback forced to sit last season for excessively whipping his son, there’s no doubt Rice would be in someone’s camp at this very moment.
Peterson remains one of the NFL’s best backs while Rice was in serious decline at the time of his incident.
Washington general manager Scot McCloughan was willing to sign Galette, the former Saints linebacker who was arrested on a domestic violence charge in January, because he had 22 sacks the past two seasons and Washington’s pass rush was anemic last year.
No need to pretend there’s anything more to the move. Not an overwhelming interest in Galette as a person, or an urge to enable his redemption or a philosophical belief in second chances. The motivation is his talent, plain and simple.
And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Just don’t sugarcoat it.
“It’s not about a bad guy,” McCloughan told reporters Sunday at training camp. “All players have issues. We all have some kind of issue. We’ve all made mistakes or something. I don’t want the repeat offenders. I don’t want the guy that I know is not going to be a good guy and bring him in our locker room.”
Of course he doesn’t want that guy. But there’s no way to know for sure. The Bears signed repeat-offender Ray McDonald in March and hoped he would behave. In May, after yet another domestic violence arrest, they released him. He’s facing charges on felony false imprisonment and due back in court on Wednesday.
I suppose McCloughan wouldn’t be interested in McDonald at this point, repeat offender and all. But if McDonald had J.J. Watt talent, we wouldn’t be surprised if some team gave him a shot once the legal dust clears. Not because he “deserves” it, though.
None of us are automatically entitled to multiple opportunities; not Galette and not Peterson, Milken or Sheen. But think about it: We live in a society where even so-called good-for-nothings can get another crack at being responsible, upright and productive. Many do just that, taking advantage of their reprieve.
With such success stories left and right among marginally-skilled folks, powers-that-be are even more willing to gamble on those with special gifts.
McCloughan said team officials were thorough in vetting Galette before offering him a low-risk contract. Under truth serum, the GM might say it doesn’t matter what the investigation turned up, what happened or what kind of guy Galette has been in the past. He just has keep his nose clean in Washington.
It’s the same thing GMs in other cities would’ve said had they landed Galette, who was destined to land somewhere.
“That’s a given,” McCloughan told reporters. “He’s way too talented at 27 years old not to be signed.”
Whether that’s deserved is irrelevant.