Inhale … hold it … hold it…. hold it…
Michael Phelps sure can hold his breath a long time. Dang.
Had Bob Costas not mentioned 10 minutes into Sunday’s Super Bowl pregame show that Phelps issued an apology for smoking marijuana last November in South Carolina — and apparently it was NBC’s job to damage-control this thing, since it has some territorial rights to the champion swimmer’s life story based on its coverage of his eight-gold-medal exploits at the most recent Summer Olympics in Beijing — we’re not sure this would have even been on our radar until, say, Tuesday.
The story could be in today’s papers, but it would have sunk to the bottom of the pool of headlines and photos from the Super Bowl coverage. So thanks, Bob, for not sending up a smoke screen on this one.
Now, what’s the collateral damage for the Human Bong?
First, none of this happens unless there’s the British tabloid News of the World (linked here). It offered this as the lead paragraph:
“THIS is the astonishing picture which could destroy the career of the greatest competitor in Olympic history.”
That’s the beauty of the tabs. Over the top.
So Phelps did what he had to do in a perfect PR world: Nip it in the cannabis bud immediately, saying he was sorry. Really sorry. Sorry, mostly, that someone took the photo and just now decided it was worth releasing.
Another of the gotcha, victimless crimes that those of supreme athletic stature have to be aware can and will be used against them in the court of public opinion.
As the story on the matter in today’s New York Times points out, Phelps’ admission is “unlikely to effect his swimming eligibility, it could affect the millions of dollars he has secured in endorsement deals.” So he’ll pay the price. Or maybe not.
We’ll see how long this takes to inhale, then blow over. If one really wants to hold a grudge against a 23-year-old kid, point back to the fact that he had a DUI when he was 19. Surely, the women on “The View” who are in L.A. this week will hash it out this morning, give him a major scolding then cut to Whoopi Goldberg holding up another photo of him in a tight Speedo and a goofy smile on his face. That’s spinning the story forward, rastawoman.
Considering Phelps love of the water, it’s no surprise that a bong was used here instead of a straight-up blazing joint. Does it help his performance in the pool? In 1998, Gary Hall Jr. was suspended three months by FINA for testing postive for marijuana. No proof if any swimmer testing positive for weed really is guilty of performance enhancing. We’ll have to have Congress take up the matter. Before Phelps misremembers anything that really happened that night.
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