Like any other working citizen, when a professional athlete screws up on the job, he should expect to get criticized, and rightfully so.
But unlike your average citizen, a professional athlete doesn't just have to deal with the slings and arrows from his boss; he must also face the scrutiny and the wrath of the fans and the media after a job not so well done.
This comes with the territory, and anyone who has designs on a life's work in the very bright spotlight that is professional sports should know that he or she must learn to deal with criticism (within reason, anyway).
However, should that criticism extend to matters away from the bright lights of the playing field, court or rink?
Should very private affairs be the target for fan and media wrath?
I guess the answer to that question is "yes," because a professional athlete's private life is often brought out into the open for public inspection.
When it comes to matters that effect a player's ability to help his team, the inspection is probably warranted. But when it comes to things such as a person's decision to attend or not to attend a funeral, what right does anyone have to judge that choice?
Just before my 22nd birthday, my grandfather passed away. I had never had to deal with a close family member's death before, so this was a very traumatizing thing for me.
Maybe foolishly, I decided to skip out on the viewings and the funeral because I didn't want to deal with all that it would entail, particularly the emotions that would surely be on display among family, friends and, yes, Yours truly.
You would have never known about my decision had I not shared that with you in this article, but I never won four Super Bowls, so how could you know?
Perhaps not surprisingly, Steelers Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw did not attend Chuck Noll's funeral last week, and naturally, this was seen by many as yet another indication of Bradshaw's long-held resentment for his former coach.
This is just speculation, of course, but it's highly doubtful Bradshaw's decision to not attend Noll's funeral had anything to do with hatred or resentment.
"Yes, but how could he not show up to pay his respects?"
How could I not show up to pay respects to my grandfather? If anyone was more in the wrong for not attending a funeral, it was me, but I have yet to face a single second of criticism from people for a decision I made two decades ago.
Unfortunately for Bradshaw, he's already suffered through 26 years of scrutiny for his decision to not attend the funeral for Art Rooney, Sr, the late Steelers founder and a person No. 12 has always talked about glowingly. Now, he faces many years of criticism (and maybe regret) for his decision to not attend Noll's.
Maybe Bradshaw didn't attend the funeral out of respect for Noll's family. It was no secret that the relationship between Noll and his former quarterback was icy, at best. Sure, this had more to do with the quarterback's insecurities than anything else, but this wouldn't have stopped reporters from maybe asking questions that could have placed Bradshaw in a tough spot. And if he were to answer the questions honestly, this may have been seen as a slight and disrespectful in the eyes of the public.
Perhaps Bradshaw didn't attend Noll's funeral because, just like a lot of us, he viewed his time with the Steelers (a time that ended three decades ago) as just another chapter in his life.
Sure, it was a great chapter, a chapter that made Bradshaw who he is today and has allowed him to earn millions as a public figure, but it was still just one chapter of a life that has reached its seventh decade.
While passionate fans of a team are always "current" (even when it comes to games that were played decades ago), it's easy to forget that some players don't always like to re-live their careers, and some of them move on almost immediately after retirement.
Also, Bradshaw has always suffered from emotional problems--including clinical depression--and it's highly possible this may have influenced his decision not to attend.
At the end of the day, only Terry Bradshaw knows why he didn't attend Chuck Noll's funeral, and for anyone to just assume that it was a deliberate show of disrespect is being very unfair.