I know she had great talent. I know she could hit notes that most people couldn’t. I know she was a mother, a daughter and an ex-wife.
But I don’t get all the media coverage. I am sorry, but I don’t think it is warranted or deserved.
Whitney Houston died Saturday in Beverly Hills and her death, like all deaths ,is a loss. I will never downplay the end of a life. What I am questioning is why so much media coverage for a woman that for the better part of her career has been slowing killing herself. Yes, I know, the cause of her death will not be known until the autopsy report comes back. But please don’t fool yourself into believing that her lifestyle didn’t play a large role in her death.
I know the drill. I live in South Florida and had to endure the Anna Nicole Smith case for weeks following her death. The media coverage was obnoxious. I also happened to live about a mile from the Hard Rock Hotel she died in. An 8 iron away from the coroner’s office and three miles away from the hospital where they took her. The helicopters flying over my house went on for weeks. Starting at 8am and ending after the nightly news. They would just fly around in circles, capturing non-stop footage of the triangle created by the three above mentioned landmarks. I don’t know what they were thinking they would get on film, it wasn’t like she was going to walk out and wave.
I did, but they never put me on the news.
I know how news works. I have been a journalist for over twenty years. The news directors think Houston’s death is a huge story so they cover it for 15-20 minutes a night. They don’t want to be outdone by their rival news outlets. They interview everyone they can find, from the last person to see her alive to her best friend in third grade to the bell hop that brought her room service. ENOUGH. I tried to avoid the pun, but I can’t, it’s overkill.
Now at this point, I know you are saying to yourself what does this have to do with sports? Well, it doesn’t but it does have to do with our society and how twisted it is. How we revel in tragedy and pain. How we feel better about ourselves at other people’s expense.
Now here comes the sports angle.
Freddie Solomon died Monday after battling cancer, he was 59. He was without a doubt the best player in the history of the University of Tampa. A small school with a small football program but he played BIG. And when I say BIG, I mean HUGE. So huge many people actually point to him as the reason for the existence of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
What made Solomon a legend on the field was that he was so electrifying in college that he was the reason the U of Tampa would fill Tampa Stadium. Basically, Fantastic Freddie proved to the NFL that Tampa could support a pro franchise. It’s a shame he never played for the Bucs. Although, I certainly don’t wish the early Buc years on anyone, except of course, Steve Spurrier, he did deserve it!
Solomon was drafted by the Dolphins in 1975. He played three years there before ending his 11 year career catching passes in San Francisco. Solomon was a gentleman on and off the field. He did wonderful things in the San Francisco community after his retirement. Little is known about his short battle with cancer but if he fought it like he played, I am sure the cancer didn’t have an easy time taking his life.
Cancer versus hard partying, drugs, booze and tabloid headlines. The latter got tributes on the Grammys and newscast after newscast. I am sure there will be special editions of magazines soon and tribute albums to come. Cancer got a mention and a few highlights on ESPN.
Both Freddie Solomon and Whitney Houston had great talent. Both made fans cheer.
Drinking, drugs, partying, those are choices. Cancer, you don’t get to choose. Who would?
Let’s get our priorities straight.