|12-02-2007, 06:59 AM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2006
Broncos struggle to keep their private lives private
ENGLEWOOD - Among the things you can find on a Google search of Denver Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil is a message board discussion of whether he has a girlfriend. Included among the more than 20 responses is a description of a woman who some thought was dating Dumervil.
“I heard about that,” Dumervil said. “That’s sick, man. But you can’t control it.”
With cell phone cameras common and YouTube and other Internet sites easy portals to post pictures, videos or discussions of main squeezes, the privacy of today’s athletes is dwindling. But Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall said the fame and fortune acquired by being a professional athlete is worth giving up some privacy.
“You’re making tons of money doing something you love,” said Marshall, who has drawn attention for two arrests this year. “It’s definitely worth it.”
Sometimes the privacy invasion can be dangerous. Denver cornerback Dre Bly said earlier in his career his bank accounts were tapped into but refused to elaborate. And a rash of burglaries against athletes is troubling. This year, NBA players Eddy Curry and Antoine Walker and Houston cornerback Dunta Robinson were each robbed at their home. This week, Washington safety Sean Taylor was shot and killed at his home in Miami, although police haven’t said he was targeted.
Usually the privacy invasion is mundane. Photos of Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Chicago quarterback Kyle Orton drinking and appearing inebriated made the rounds on the Internet.
Broncos safety John Lynch was told once by an equipment manager he had more than 20 pages that were supposedly his on MySpace, a social Web site with personal home pages.
“I’ve never been on MySpace in my life,” Lynch said.
Will Leitch runs Deadspin.com, which has an irreverent take on sports. His site drew traffic when it posted pictures of Orton, then Roethlisberger, having nights on the town a couple of years ago.
Leitch said that even though athletes’ lives off the field are under more scrutiny, they don’t have it as tough as Hollywood celebrities or politicians. He said when he started his site in 2005 he knew there was a audience that didn’t accept the myths of athletes as heroes, which went to new levels when NBA star Michael Jordan was turned into an icon.
“I think people wanted to see something that wasn’t Gatorade-d up or Nike-d up,” Leitch
said. “It’s almost the de-Jordanification of sports.”
Leitch said most fans have no problem seeing athletes in an unflattering light. He doesn’t think fans hold it against someone like Roethlisberger if they see photos of him drinking as he wore a “Drink Like a Champion Today” T-shirt.
“I don’t know anybody who would see that and say ‘I’ve always admired him and rooted for him but no longer,’” Leitch said. “I think the only people who would get upset about it are the people who can make money off his image.”
Some athletes have become more guarded. Bly said he rarely takes photos anymore. Lynch said he is more cautious but still takes photos.
“You like to treat people like people, but long ago someone said you can’t take a picture with a lady because you don’t know what that can turn into these days,” said Lynch, who is married. “It used to be innocent. You were just taking a picture with a fan. I still do it because I don’t like living my life like that, but I can see why people say that.”
Marshall learned about being in the spotlight this offseason. He was arrested twice, once on a since-dropped charge of domestic violence and false imprisonment, and later on a charge of driving under the influence.
“I think I was one of those guys where I had to bump my head once or twice to finally realize that this is a high-profile business,” Marshall said.