Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Tale of Two Faces

I flipped the Sun-Times over this morning, and was struck like Shaun Alexander on 4th and 1. On one side of my paper stood Barack Obama. On the other, Rex Grossman. Oh, how their worlds are about to collide. Don't worry, I'll explain.

Once upon a time, I was a "real" sports reporter for a short time. I got bored. Also, I was covering the Yankees a lot and John Wetteland scared the crap out of me. Anyway, when I decided sports reporting wasn't for me, I moved on to politics. I covered politics for a number of years, and it struck me that they were pretty much the same field. The only major difference is that politicians are better at thinking up consistently interesting things to say. Both elections and the legislative process are essentially sporting events. They qualify at least as much as pool or poker.

Anyway, within these parallel universes being a team's quarterback or a party's presidential candidate are essentially parallels. It's a bit of a stretch, but bear with me. Each is his team's leader, it's public face. And each comes under whithering attack, not only from opposing teams/parties, but also from his own team's fans.

Today, Obama is what Grossman was before the season. He's young (though older than Kennedy was when he became president), largely unknown, but highly promising. As I looked at Grossman, weighed down by criticism and expectation, and read Grossman's lament about the pressure and scrutiny directed at him, I felt a pang of sympathy for Obama.

Obama looks bouyant on his cover. He's ready to stand astride the free world as it's leader. I'm a big Obama fan, with much less reservation than I support Grossman. But if Obama emerges on the other end of this presidential campaign victorious, he will nevertheless be worn and weathered by the process he's about to go through.

The political punditry may be the one group capable of grinding up a man of character even more than sports wags. And let's be honest, the stakes for Obama and his "fans" are much higher than Grossman. Although, for one week at least I care more about Grossman's fate than Obama's.

Anyway, I know this is something of a stretch, but we're in the middle of a long tense week of Bears' anticipation, and I can't stomach spending any more of it deciding whether we saw good or bad Rex last Sunday. Besides, like I said, the comparison struck me when I looked at the front and back pages of my paper this morning. So, as Obama looks at his picture this morning, and contemplates a glorious future in the White House, I hope he also flips the paper over and contemplates Rex's roller coaster ride. Each must brace himself because their defining moments are upon them, and I'll sincerely be rooting for each to emerge forged into something greater, rather than beaten into submission.


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