Hu­man­ity at its best and worst this week in sports

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Sports - BY TIM DAHLBERG

The bad news comes al­most daily, a re­minder if any­one still needs it that sports is not all fun and games.

The worst comes from off the field, where An­to­nio Brown is ac­cused of rape by his for­mer trainer in a law­suit, and Pi­rates closer Felipe Vazquez is jailed and charged with at­tempt­ing to have sex with an un­der­age girl in 2017.

The allegation­s in both cases are sor­did, even if only one is be­ing charged crim­i­nally. Vazquez sits in a Penn­syl­va­nia jail, while Brown is now un­em­ployed af­ter get­ting re­leased Fri­day by the Pa­tri­ots. Brown de­nies the ac­cu­sa­tion by the trainer; Vasquez’s lawyers have with­held com­ment.

Mean­while, Yan­kees star pitcher Domingo Ger­man was put on leave by Ma­jor League Base­ball while it in­ves­ti­gates pos­si­ble do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

For NFL fans, the news on the field this week wasn’t en­cour­ag­ing, either. Two of the league’s top quar­ter­backs were knocked out of ac­tion on the same day. Drew Brees is ex­pected to re­turn af­ter six weeks or so, but Ben Roeth­lis­berger’s sea­son is over in Pitts­burgh.

It’s al­most enough to make fans quit watch­ing – or stop car­ing. Turn away, though, and you might miss the things that make sports so spe­cial.

Like the classy way Eli Man­ning took his bench­ing and what might be the end of his ca­reer. The Gi­ants quar­ter­back won two Su­per Bowl rings, but in the NFL what mat­ters is what you’ve done lately – and Man­ning has un­der­per­formed on a team that con­tin­ues to un­der­per­form.

“You just know when you draft a young quar­ter­back, there is a pos­si­bil­ity of him play­ing if things don’t go well,” Man­ning said. “We didn’t start fast and that’s the sit­u­a­tion we are in now.”

Or the tears at Yan­kee Sta­dium when CC Sa­bathia made his last reg­u­lar-sea­son home start, leav­ing in the third in­ning to a stand­ing ova­tion even though he couldn't give the Yan­kees the pen­nant clincher that would have made the night even more spe­cial.

It was the 174th start for Sa­bathia at Yan­kee Sta­dium, where he helped the Yan­kees win a world cham­pi­onship his first year in pin­stripes in 2009. When man­ager Aaron Boone came out to end it, he gave Sa­bathia a bear hug be­fore tak­ing the base­ball.

“Way to go, I love ya,” Boone told his burly pitcher.

But wait, there's more. David Or­tiz re­turned to throw out a first ball at Fen­way Park, then an­nounced he was back on Twit­ter and ea­ger to hear all that he had missed while re­cu­per­at­ing from be­ing shot in his na­tive Do­mini­can Repub­lic. Who doesn't love Big Papi and the ul­ti­mate tale of re­silience and courage?

Tyson Fury, mean­while, lost enough blood for two men in his heavy­weight fight against Swe­den's Otto Wallin, and missed lead­ing his usual sin­ga­long after­ward be­cause he was at the hos­pi­tal get­ting 47 stitches to close deep cuts over his right eye. Fury was a mess, but be­fore he went to get stitched up he took a mi­cro­phone in the ring to of­fer Wallin con­do­lences on the death of his fa­ther a few months ear­lier.

Then there was C. Vi­vian Stringer talk­ing about her re­turn to coach­ing at Rut­gers at age 71 af­ter be­ing forced to step away last sea­son be­cause of health and stress is­sues. She had never missed a Rut­gers prac­tice ex­cept on two oc­ca­sions – when her hus­band died, and when her mother died.

“I don't miss prac­tice be­cause that's the only thing I take very sa­cred,” she said.

Fi­nally, there's Jack Hoff­man, who won over a lot of hearts when he scored a touch­down at a Ne­braska prac­tice game in 2013 while fight­ing brain can­cer.

Jack is 13 now, and still in a fight for his life. But he walked on the field this week to play cen­ter for his ju­nior high school team in the Ne­braska town of Atkin­son.

His fa­ther, Andy Hoff­man, said doc­tors cleared Jack to play af­ter it be­came clear his son was determined to play foot­ball as his fa­ther had. And play Jack did, de­spite hav­ing to take 23 pills a day and be­ing in the clin­i­cal trial of a drug reg­i­men orig­i­nally cre­ated for melanoma pa­tients.

“This isn't some­thing that we're shov­ing down his throat,” his dad said. “This is Jack want­ing to play foot­ball.”

With that you may want to clear your throat.

On a week we saw some of the worst, it was also sports at its best.

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