When Detroit Lions running back D’Andre Swift dropped that potentially game-winning pass in the end zone during Sunday’s stunning 27-23 loss to the Chicago Bears I immediately felt badly for the young man.
My mistake that day was writing about it on Twitter. I was immediately attacked for showing compassion for a professional athlete.
What is wrong with us? I understand you were angry with the outcome. I understand that some of you want coach Matt Patricia fired after a 9-23-1 beginning to his head coaching career in Detroit.
But you are not allowed to show compassion for someone who failed? Is our relationship with Detroit athletes that simple? If you win I shall celebrate with you. If you lose I shall abandon you and want nothing to do with you.
We can criticize the Lions for this mammoth collapse. We can criticize Swift for not making the big catch. That’s OK. But am I not allowed to say “poor guy that was a tough break?”
Is that it? Swift dropped that ball on an effort play. He did not do it on purpose. You don’t have to like the outcome.
So why is wrong to say “poor guy?’Is it the money? Is it the fame?
Sometimes we forget that pro athletes are human beings. They bleed like the rest of us and they hurt like the rest of us. The difference is their stage is bigger and their paycheck is fatter.
Patricia walked Swift off the field and threw an arm around him. He wanted to sooth his rookie running back and explain to him that he did not lose that game by himself. Patricia was also being a human being, something some of us have forgotten how to be.
Swift did not blow that 23-6 fourth quarter lead by himself. Quarterback Matthew Stafford threw a key interception. Kicker Matt Prater hit the goal post. Adrian Peterson and the offensive line failed to convert a third and one.
During a 1994 Western Conference quarterfinals series between the Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks 21 year old rookie goalie Chris Osgood sent an errant pass along the boards that led to the game-winning goal in Game 7. His game 7 miscue stunned a town and left Osgood an emotional mess.
I spent time with him that night and he talked about how he believed he let his teammates down along with the entire city. How could you not feel sorry for the guy? Yep, he made a huge mistake, just as Swift did.
In the 1988 NBA Eastern Conference Finals Isiah Thomas made one of the most infamous blunders in NBA history. With the Pistons up a point in the waning seconds, he fired a pass toward Bill Laimbeer near the basket that Boston Celtics forward Larry Bird stole and passed to Dennis Johnson for the game-winning basket. This town mourned, but how could you not feel compassion for Thomas who was devastated after the game?
Swift found himself on the big stage at Ford Field and failed. He wanted to catch that ball as badly as anybody. I’m assuming the guy is heart broken because the Lions did not make him available after the game on Sunday. Two days later I still don’t see Swift quotes.
So will you embrace him only after he makes you happy? Is that how it works?Find Terry Foster Podcast here: