Once the news broke of his arrest for DUI it took Darrius Heyward-Bey all of 24 hours to apologize for the negative attention his actions brought to the Oakland Raiders. It took Rolando McClain more than 6 months and an actual conviction to apologize following his arrest for assault.
Need I say more?
DHB and McClain are very much in the same boat. Heyward-Bey was a top 10 that massively underachieved in his first two years in the NFL. McClain is a top 10 pick that has been every bit as disappointing in his first two laps around the league. Both made some serious coin despite producing little. Both faced constant scrutiny. Both have a recent history of legal woes.
Yet only one of them sees the big picture.
To DHB’s credit he’s always kept his head down putting in long hours to improve and it finally paid off in 2011. Now let’s not get too carried away. Hey-Bey still has a long way to go until he lives up to his draft status. But at least you know he’ll die trying.
All of the good press coming DHB’s way could have easily been buried buy his DUI. And while he’s not even close to being out of the woods as there is still a court date looming and possible league-mandated suspension at least you get the feeling DHB gives a rip and cares enough to own up to his shortcomings.
You’d think McClain might look to Heyward-Bey as a role model of sorts. If anybody understands what its like to live in the shadow of your draft stock and rookie contract its DHB. McClain has earned little praise and plenty of scrutiny for his play as a two-year starter. You’d also think McClain might want to roll back time and take a page from DHB’s book on handling legal woes too.
DHB apologized. McClain grinned at the camera during his arrest then issued an apology more uninspired than his play only after a judge slapped him with 180 days in jail. Sure, McClain might still avoid jail time with his retrial but he won’t escape the long arm of Roger Goodell.
Odds are the Raiders will be DHB-less at some point as the league is sure to slap a suspension on him no matter the results of his court case.
In the end you at least know Heyward-Bey isn’t taking his situation lightly. Even if he genuinely feels no remorse his apology was timely enough that it didn’t allow any room for speculation. Sometimes timing means more the sincerity. Not at all am I accusing DHB of going through the motions, just saying he’s got enough sense to know how to get in front of a story.
As for McClain, he got in front of his legal problems the same way he gets in front of blockers – with bad timing and even worse execution. Even if you want to argue he had to keep his mouth shut so as not to damage his legal situation there is still no excuse for smiling into the camera after being arrested for an incident that was recorded on multiple cell phones.
Perception has become reality in the day and age. Fair or unfair that’s just the way it is.
It’s just this simple. Heyward-Bey gets it. McClain doesn’t.
Going forward there are still plenty of questions surrounding both players and their future. But I’ll bet anything that Reggie McKenzie will roll with DHB over McClain any day of the week. Heyward-Bey gives a damn. It shows in his work ethic and it shines through during his legal troubles. McClain could care less. That was abundantly clear by how he handled his arrest and with his half hearted apology.
One man is a Raider through and through while another is kid who pretends to be one.
It’s just that simple.