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By: Frank Hyden, MMATorch contributor
I lost a lot of respect for Jon Jones as a person after his DUI arrest last week. I take a very hardline stance on drinking and driving. There's never an excuse that justifies driving under the influence, especially for a famous person. He could have easily called a cab, or got one of his flunkies or friends to take him home. What Jones did is inexcusable.
I never cared much about the talk from Rashad Evans or Quinton "Rampage" Jackson or Dan Henderson that Jones is a phony. Everyone is a phony, to a certain degree. This is especially true with famous athletes or celebrities. I don't really care if Jon Jones is a two-faced liar, so are a lot of people in the world. It's not as though the three above are choir boys anyway. The point is, I don't care about any of this stuff because it doesn't affect me. Rashad may have felt betrayed by Jones, but that's his business. If you dig deep enough, you'll find that everyone is guilty of something.
The difference with this DUI stuff is that it does affect me, just as it affects everyone. Drinking and driving is a scourge on society, as it is putting others in danger. I've been on record that I believe that you shouldn't have to wear a seatbelt in a vehicle as long as you're 18 years of age or older. That's because you're not endangering the lives of everyone else on the road, just anyone who's in that vehicle. If you feel unsafe, don't ride in the vehicle, it's your choice. I think everyone should wear a seatbelt, but you shouldn't be required by law to. However, you are endangering the lives of everyone else on the road when you drink and drive. That's why it should be, and is, illegal.
It's even more galling when it's someone famous because it's so easy for them to not drink and drive. That's not excusing us normal people who drink and drive, but you have to basically want to drink and drive as a celebrity.
No excuse is good enough. I don't care if Jon Jones is 24 or 14, it's never ok for anyone to drink and drive. The sad part of this is that this really won't affect Jones going forward in the long-term. It's not something I'll ever forget, and will always be a stain on him in my eyes and the eyes of many others. However, I'm in the minority on this. In the short-term, there's no question that this hurts Jones. I really can't see him doing any more beer commercials, either. He's going to have to lay low for a while on the commercial front.
Jon's age will bail him out on this. It's not because he'll be excused because he's young, that's a garbage excuse that's automatic grounds for a lobotomy if anyone tries to use it. Instead, what will happen is that Jones will continue on his fighting career, and when he racks up more great wins, all will be forgotten by most. If this had happened closer to the end of his career, it would be more of an issue. That's the difference between Pete Rose and Kobe Bryant, as I'd like to think (alleged) sexual assault is worse than betting on your own team. Jon Jones has a chance to make you forget what he's done, just as Kobe has done. When people think of Ray Lewis, they don't think about the murder allegations he was involved with in 2000. He plea-bargained to obstruction of justice in exchange for testifying against his two friends. People don't think of that when they think of Lewis these days. The same will be true for Jones.
Jon Jones does deserve forgiveness, provided that he earns it. However, it's not something that's going to be forgotten entirely. That's how inexcusable this is. I feel that way regardless of who it is. Tom Hanks is my favorite actor of all time, but if he got arrested for DUI it would totally change my view on him. That's a much more hardline stance than most, but I have no sympathy in situations like this. In a couple of years this will all be blown over and no one will care anymore except for a few of us. This will just become a tiny footnote on his Wikipedia page. I find that sad, but I'm used to it by now.
Dana White said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that the UFC will expand its drug testing and that they're putting more plans into place. I don't know the details, but it sounds like it's a step in the right direction. The more they do, the more they have legitimacy in the sports world. MMA is more scrutinized than most other sports, so they have to hold themselves to a higher standard until more people wake up and realize that MMA isn't barbarism. This is one of many steps needed to sound that alarm clock.
Comments and suggestions can be e-mailed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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