|Sporting fans live for those moments when the score is tied and the clock is
ticking with only seconds left. We cling to seats and hold collective breath
as our favorite sports hero performs another miracle. It is those moments
that we value and talk about for years. Those are the times we elevate
athletes to iconic status. Their stories become legend and their legacy
becomes larger than life. In our eyes they can do no wrong.
Need a shot made with only a half second on the clock? No problem - give it
to Mike. "There's only one opportunity to make a touchdown a hundred yards
out - please, where's Mr. Montana?" When those rare moments are accomplished
enough those athletes become our heroes. We celebrate them with parades and
rush to the movies to see their 30-second cameos. Or maybe we'll purchase a
pair of Adidas and their number jersey in hopes to "be like Mike." Names
such as Joe Namath, Mohammed Ali, Babe Ruth, Julius "Dr. J" Erving and Mike
Tyson - yes, even Mike Tyson.
But for the past two weeks a new hero has emerged and he isn't vying for a
MVP trophy or a Nike endorsement. He doesn't wear his number on a jersey, nor
needs his picture on the Wheaties box. No, he isn't our typical,
shot-clock-beating hero. Instead, I'm talking of a new team in a much more
serious league - the rescue workers of New York City and Washington D.C.
In this period of seemingly endless grief and mourning for loved ones, those
rescue workers have provided a glimmer of hope. With their relentless
attitude to recover, they have inspired this nation with what many of us may
have lost - determination, courage, strength, and a powerful sense of
teamwork. Without thinking of it, those workers have re-programmed our
routine mentality. Whereas sports provide us with moments of entertainment,
New York and Washington rescuers have given us the blueprint of how to help
our fellow neighbor. It may sound corny or overly patriotic, but "The Truth"
is what it is. Because in the wake of this tragedy we are no longer strangers
but instead we are as God sees it: true brother and sister.
In recent years, police officers have been noticed for only their brutality
and profiling of young minority men and women. Believe me: I stand as one
from the same community. But these past two weeks they too have shown and
proven themselves in a new and more positive light. Finally we can actually
say that the cops are good guys and not laugh afterwards.
Beneath the avalanche of debris where once stood the Pentagon and the World
Trade Center (now labeled as "Ground Zero"), America's new heroes continue to
search without any hesitation, undaunted by the lasting effects this will no
doubt take. I've heard many stories of true heroism. They are abundant and enl
ightening. It shows that we haven't lost our sense of compassion. People
risking their lives to save others prove to me that there is nothing that we
cannot accomplish when we are truly united.
The names of sporting figures should now be replaced with those of Officers
John Lahey and John Perry and Fire Fighter Tim Thomas - men who stood face to
face with fear and defeated it. These are true heroes who gave their lives to
save others. Little Timmy will now retire his Randy Moss poster for an
American Flag he wanted for Christmas. In my modest opinion the men and women
of Ground Zero are true heroes and they didn't have to make a jump shot and
they aren't telling the media they're "going to Disney World." Instead, they
stand side by side to recover and offer some closure to the families sadly
dealing with their losses.
As we get back to enjoying Monday night football games and we watch these
athletes endure their weekly test on the gridiron, please keep in mind the
true heroes at Ground Zero and all that they stand for. As much as I love
sports, and as much as I am overjoyed that the games have returned, I will
not forget exactly what true teamwork is. And for the time being, sports
figures whom I admire and look upon as heroes will have to RIDE THE BENCH.
To comment on this or any other column by Drew "The Truth" Alexander, email