Today, star professional athletes have at their disposal a virtually bottomless supply of ways to be wicked. Some are less egregious than the scandalous activities of former NFL wide receiver Lance Rentzel. While others surpass his less violent sexual proclivities by yards. The biggest difference between the accused rapist Mike Tyson and the animal abuser Mike Vick. Is that Rentzel seemed to be genuinely remorseful.
A Star Spangled Past
It appears as though he authentically attempted to understand the motivations behind his exposing himself to young girls. In an attempt to overcome his unacceptable passions. Three years removed from the disgusting initiation rites for Oklahoma varsity. Lettermen that so-called legendary and very definitely sadistic coach Bud Wilkinson oversaw, read about it for yourself. Lance Rentzel found himself in the National Football League.
He was handsome, fun to be around, could catch passes that would have gone right through the hands of Bullet Bob Hayes, and so what if he suffered an unusual amount of injuries for a wide receiver? The Minnesota Vikings were hardly the Green Bay Packers anyway. The second round draft choice of the Vikings looked to perhaps have a difficult time becoming a superstar, but he had the money and the access to good looking women that all football stars seemed to want.
So then why did Lance Rentzel risk it all by exposing himself to two young girls? Goodbye, Minnesota. Hello, Dallas. Instead of taking a conviction of lewd and lascivious behavior, the charge was negotiated down to disorderly conduct. Dallas and the Cowboys offered Rentzel the Great American Birthright: a second chance. This time around Lance Rentzel managed to become something of a star. He even got to marry a woman considered one of the hottest female celebrities on the planet during a decade overrun with women considered hot celebrities: Joey Heatherton.
Life was good. Then Lance made the mistake of going to see Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. According to autobiography, it was the depression that set in after reading 1984 that precipitated the Minnesota incident.
Kubrick’s phantasmagoria of the ancient past and the not-too-distant future depressed Lance Rentzel again into a state where proving his manhood came down to displaying that manhood in front of a 10-year-old girl. Goodbye, Joey. Hello, jokes. Rentzel’s every appearance resulted in football fans dogging him with insults hurled his way in the form of humorous quips: “Send in Rentzel when the game is going bad and he’ll pull it out.”
Today, Lance Rentzel would make a public spectacle of seeking help at a high profile center to treat addiction. What Lance did in the late 1960s was to quietly seek the help of a psychiatrist to help him understand why he did the awful things he did. In other words, Lance Rentzel didn’t act as though he was entitled to do anything he wanted simply because he was a celebrity athlete. Rentzel did not go on Johnny Carson and laugh along as Johnny repeated one of the many jokes circulating at Rentzel’s expense. Lance Rentzel did not attempt to turn himself into a victim. He admitted his wrongdoing, expressed regret and remorse, took his punishment and sought help.
Has anyone seen Mike Vick express regret and remorse over thrilling himself at the sight of dogs tearing each other apart? I mean, have you ever seen Vick expressing these things and actually seeming as though he meant it. Rather than using it as an opportunity to weasel his way back into the National Jerkball League? Has Mike Tyson ever even seemed slightly apologetic about any of his behavior?
Yes, today’s sports heroes could learn quite a few lessons in how to handle infamy from Lance Rentzel.