I went to New York for a day this week, and let me put it like this: Newspaper sports journalism in ‘‘The Volcano’’ is still working its magic.
You expect over-the-top or, rather, under-the-bottom headlines from the New York Post, so it was nice to see that New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s and quarterback Tom Brady’s denials regarding culpability in the deflated football scandal were greeted on the back page of the Post on Friday with the single quasi-word, ‘‘BALLS#!T.’’
But the usually less-dynamic New York Daily News one-upped its sleazoid brother. Next to a back-page photo of ‘‘Glamor Boy Brady,’’ the newspaper’s headline read, ‘‘MY BALLS ARE PERFECT.’’
WHEN PEOPLE PAIR UP FOR LIFE, you hope that each part makes the other better. But, as we know, this often doesn’t happen.
Thus, I worry about Hope Solo.
The skilled goalkeeper for the U.S. women’s soccer team, which is preparing for the World Cup this summer, has been on a seemingly downward slide since she started dating former NFL tight end Jerramy Stevens, to whom she now is married.
Last summer, Solo was charged with fourth-degree domestic violence after a brawl at a family event. And though it might seem funny that she allegedly belted around her half-sister and her 6-9, 280-pound teenage nephew, both those people, according to a report in the Washington Post, ‘‘had visible injuries.’’ Moreover, the arresting police said Solo appeared ‘‘intoxicated and upset.’’
The trial, scheduled for last week, never happened because the judge dismissed the charges against Solo based on a lack of cooperation from both alleged victims. A reasonable person could assume the family didn’t want any more embarrassing facts coming out.
But had Solo been convicted, with all the negative hoopla these days about domestic violence — by man or woman — she could have expected to spend time in jail and likely be dropped from the U.S. team forever.
Maybe all would be forgiven, but just days after the trial dismissal, Solo was with Stevens when he was stopped by police in Manhattan Beach, California, at 2 a.m. for allegedly driving under the influence — in the U.S. soccer team’s van. Police said Solo, who was not charged with anything, appeared drunk and acted belligerently. Some of us were reminded of her statement in a 2012 ESPN The Magazine story that she showed up drunk for a 2008 taping of the NBC ‘‘Today Show.’’
After this latest incident, she was suspended from the U.S. club. Coach Jill Ellis said in a statement, ‘‘We feel at this time it is best for her to step away from the team.’’
Back to Stevens. A talented former member of the Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he has had a troubled life, with evidence of serious anger and drug and alcohol issues. He has been arrested numerous times for everything from DUI to reckless driving to hit-and-run driving to marijuana possession to battery and even to rape. The alleged rape occurred at his alma mater, the University of Washington, and ended with an out-of-court settlement to the victim on civil charges.
Just as troubling, Stevens was arrested on suspicion of assaulting then-fiancée Solo in a 2012 altercation that left her injured. The case was dropped for lack of evidence, and the couple wed Nov. 3, 2012, the day after the arrest.
Stevens is 6-7, 265 pounds, and I remember watching him on TV when he played pro ball and thinking he was tremendously gifted, like Tony Gonzalez or Antonio Gates, but that there was something wrong with him. He taunted foes and postured, with an immature attitude that jumped right through the screen. After a DUI arrest in March 2007, when Stevens’ blood-alcohol level was a shocking .204, the Seahawks dumped him. ‘‘I would say it’s probably time for a change of scenery,’’ then-general manager Tim Ruskell said.
Stevens did move on, to the Bucs and then out of the NFL, and now his life includes Solo. The troubled goalie earlier had home issues, having once been kidnapped with her younger brother by her divorced father. Indeed, Solo began life on a difficult note, being conceived while her mother was visiting her father in Walla Walla (Washington) State Penitentiary.
None of this excuses anything that Solo has done to undermine her life or career. We become adults and take responsibility for our actions. This is his her world to gain or lose.
It’s just that sometimes our problems, our addictions, don’t become manifest until we’ve hit bottom. And a so-called life partner can be the one helping to grease the skids to the depths.