Cowboys vs. 49ers Morality Play

You know the story by now: a San Francisco 49ers public-relations executive, in a misguided attempt to both entertain and educate new players, supervised a tasteless video tape that was meant to be in-house but upon viewing is most definitely "outhouse.''

SCENE 1: Following segments that feature fake-bucktoothed Asians and uncontrollably heavy-petting lesbian newlyweds and talk of booze and whores, we see a churning sea of bare breasts engulfing a man. … a man who happens to be an NFL team executive who also happens to be the overseer of the production.

You know the story by now: a San Francisco 49ers public-relations executive, in a misguided attempt to both entertain and educate new players, supervised a tasteless video tape that was meant to be in-house but upon viewing is most definitely "outhouse.''

Me? I'm not going to bother with the morality of it. I'll leave that to an expert on the subject, a former Cowboy.

For our purposes today, Thomas Everett is in charge of morality, a topic about which he is well-versed. Mike Fisher is in charge of ignorance, debauchery and arrogance, subjects about which. ….

Well, let's do that fun part first, shall we?

The NFL itself provides to teams and new incoming players a video tape that instructs rookies how to behave, how to watch out for societal traps, how to conduct oneself while in the public eye. In fairness to the 49ers' attempts to gussy things up a bit, we work on the assumption that the NFL video is as unappealing to the typical 22-year-old jock as a Norma Desmond screen test.

So what if a team does its own instructional video? And what if it's "hip'' (meaning "dirty'')? And what if it's "cool'' (meaning, um, "dirty'')? What if it's the sort of production that would cause Siskel and Roeper to give it "two nipples up''?

So there they are, the black man marrying the white man, the lesbian newlyweds getting down, the mentions of acquiring booze and whores. …

Hey, is this a parody? Or a come-to-life Pat O'Brien phone call?

Naturally, the video somehow escaped the "boys-will-be-boys'' vault at 49ers headquarters and has now trickled its way into the mainstream. (Since the story first broke, it's been revealed that the year before, the 49ers produced a similar, less raunchy tape. So in 2003 it was PG-13. In 2004 it was R. Had they not been discovered, what was the PR staff planning for 2005? A snuff film?)

And naturally, the Pigskin People are pretending to have no problem with it, the excuse being that locker-room humor is organic, it is real, and it is raunchy.

Sure, but. … WHAT IDIOT CONSTRUCTS A PERMANENT RECORD OF HIS RAUNCHINESS!?

Ask Rob Lowe and his teenage groupie. Ask R. Kelly and his urinary tract. And now you can ask former 49ers PR man Kirk Reynolds, at this post-video moment not surrounded by naked women's body parts but instead a singular and lonesome boob as he shuffles his feet along the unemployment line.

Do I drive faster than 55? Sure, but I don't make gleeful recordings of my misdeeds. Do tax-avoiding citizens play a little loose with the truth on their 1040's? Sure, but they don't send the government the paperwork to prove it. Do you cheat on your wife? Maybe, but. … when you sneak off to the Minute-by-Minute Motel, you'd better pay cash rather than leave a credit-card trail for the Missus to later discover, OK, pal?

In short, even if you don't agree that the 49ers' gravest mistake was in BEING raunchy, rude, racist, ignorance and arrogant, you'd have to concede then that the 49ers' gravest mistake is in REVEALING that they are raunchy, rude, racist, ignorance and arrogant.

SCENE 2: Now to the morality thing.

Know that Thomas Everett is no prude. He was laboring alongside the rest of those great Cowboys of the early and mid-90's, the ones who collected all those Super Bowl trophies while at the same time collecting a reputation for bad-boying their way through off-field life. Thomas, a standout at free safety, wasn't and isn't a "White House'' type of guy. But he was and is friends of many of the old mates who engaged in "boys-will-be-boys'' extracurriculars.

Everett – who now spends much of his time guiding kids in areas both spiritual and athletic (check out his website, www.crossroadstraining.com) -- is too smart to allow me to position him as moral judge, moral jury and moral executioner for any of sport's ills.

Still, he will speak in general terms about an area in which his old Cowboys goofed – and an area where the reputedly "classy'' San Francisco 49ers have goofed today.

"It's mind-boggling,'' says Everett during a break from working as a volunteer football coach for a North Texas high school. "What kind of example are you setting for the youth? I believe any athlete, mentor, coach or teacher must be a positive influence on others' lives. I believe it's part of the social contract, and part of the job description. Somebody did something to mentor you into that position. In turn, you must do it for others. Somebody made a difference in my life, so I'm obliged to make a difference in another life.

Everett, stunned further when I offer up details of the video ("Oh, my,'' he exclaims a few times), adds, "How is something like that a positive influence in anybody's life? What comes out of that that is positive? Nothing. It's not happening.''

A chain of mentoring, of difference-making, of role-modeling. Would that have been so hard for the 49ers? Or, short of that, would it have been so difficult for the 49ers to keep to themselves their inability to mentor, difference-make, or role-model?

Mike Fisher is the editor of DallasBasketball.com and hosts a daily sports-talk show, "Fish For Lunch,'' noon-to-3 on 990 Texas Talk Radio (990am in North Texas, and www.990texastalkradio.com on the web.) Fish can also be reached at fish@DallasBasketball.com.

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