Radio, TV and that Damned Media

The Human Touch

This just in: No one is flawless.

As you read this I’m likely flying to Oxnard, Calif. where – promise – the Cowboys blogging will commence Tuesday morning if not sooner. But first, a little vacation catch-up.

While I was braving 80-degree weather in upstate New York and Canada, you guys were … going bonkers?

On the heels of over 600 combined comments related to the Greg Williams/Ticket saga, my breaking news item on Russ Martin has generated another 600ish.

I’ll admit, I haven’t read every one of them yet. But my initial reaction: Scared. Okay, flattered and scared.

As there were closed-minded disciples of Hammer or Mike Rhyner that refused to be swayed by any amount of facts in The Ticket controversy, I’m reading that there are Martin fans who stubbornly believe his arrest is still one elaborate “bit”. Unless, of course, his fans are merely producing their own bit. I know, confusing.

Granted my brain is half still on vacation and half already buried in Dallas’ two-deep roster, but what I’m initially taking from all these reader reactions is this:

Grow. Up.

Radio personalities – just like athletes – are only human. Flawed actors who are paid to give you smiles, not provide you role models. Canonize them at your own risk.

I vividly recall my light-bulb moment, the night I matured – deteriorated? – from naïve fan to jaded observer. The '84 Cowboys had been upset Sunday afternoon in a key November game by the lowly Buffalo Bills, 14-3. It was a horrible performance, one that would give a loyal 22-year-old fan justification for a night of boozing and numbing and forgetting out on the town.

But the players? Surely they’d be steeling their resolve watching more film, perhaps running sprints in the dark under Tom Landry’s watchful eye. Right?

Um, no. Because cutting in line and sidestepping the red velvet rope at the old Monopoly’s on Northwest Highway that night were cornerback Ron Fellows, running back Tony Dorsett and others. Inside the club I remember watching them drink, watching them dance, watching them smile. I remember realizing they weren’t just robots in uniforms, but also human beings in reality. I remember – like it or not – growing up.

Point is, you don’t have to like Michael Jackson to appreciate his music. You don't have to hate Greg Williams if you love The Hard Line. And you don't have to scream that Russ Martin's arrest is a bit just because you enjoy his afternoon radio show.

We need to differentiate between the persona and the person.

Hammer isn’t a hopeless drug addict, Rhyner isn’t near as prickly as he’d like you to think, and Martin can apparently befriend the police one day and get arrested by them another. Deal with it.

None of them were hired because they are good people, but rather because they are great entertainers. Let’s keep that in perspective next time we try to hold them to higher-than-human standards. -- Richie Whitt

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Richie Whitt
Contact: Richie Whitt