Take Ricky Williams for example. After his suspension for pot and subsequent temporary retirement due to social anxiety, the jokes on talk radio etc. came by the dump truck full. Every Joe Lunchpail in America called him a disgrace and said he should be banned for life. He was a be-dredded, ganja smoking, Rasta punch line. Pause for a moment. Take a breath. Try to imagine a world where Josh Hamiliton is likened to Barney Gumble from the Simpsons in some ham-fisted radio parody. "Throw his drunk ass out the league!" Hard to imagine, right? Why is that? Before you answer, let's look at another comparison.
Ben Roethlisberger rapes two women... ok so they can't prove it and those bitches were probably just looking for money (insert symbol for sarcasm here in case the reader in a nitwit). Perhaps there wasn't enough evidence, but the court of public opinion has convicted celebs for much less. At the very least it reeks of impropriety. As I write he's back after a month long suspension and basically no one gives a crap. Michael Vick comes back from his suspension (if I have to tell you why I don't know why you're reading a sports blog) and every move is scrutinized, every word dissected as if the media were looking for a code word that tells you where the dog fight is going to be.
Now I'm going to just get right to it and if I were Peter King or someone who actually had readers other than my friends I might get crucified. Roethlisberger and Hamiliton are white. Williams and Vick are black. Let's just admit that this type of veiled racism still exists. Perhaps people are doing it subconsciously. Maybe they don't realize why they think the way they think. Personally I hope all four of the athletes I mentioned have learned from their mistakes. As for the media, I don't think they will learn from theirs.