“Heroes or Zeroes”

When I was young, I had a Fran Tarkenton poster hanging on the wall in my bedroom.  Fran Tarkenton was my favorite quarterback when I was growing up.  He played for the New York Giants, and on some really bad Giant teams in the 1970’s.  I should know because I saw them lose on plenty a Sunday at old Yankee Stadium, — but he was my quarterback, and on my team.  I remember I cried when it was announced that he had been traded to the Minnesota Vikings.  It was so sad as my blue #10 jersey was no longer worn by my favorite player.  Since the Giants never seemed to be any good, come playoff time, I always rooted for the Vikings, as Tarkenton led them to three Super Bowls.  He is a Hall of Famer, and had many passing NFL records before Marino, Favre and Manning came along.  Later on, Tarkenton served as an analyst on Monday Night Football along side Frank Gifford and Howard Cosell.  And further into his retirement, I believe he became very successful in business.  I don’t know Fran Tarkenton, and I have never met him.  He is not my friend, and our paths have never crossed.  My appreciation for him as a young boy growing up was as an athlete on the field.  From all accounts, I think he is a pretty decent guy, although, I am pretty sure he isn’t perfect.  I am sure he has said and done things he regrets, and that we would object to as being inappropriate and just flat our wrong.   I share this because of some efforts we see across colleges to scrub the names of people like Woodrow Wilson and Charles Aycock off the buildings at Princeton University and ECU, respectively.  Apparently, both of these men have skeletons that have now coming tumbling out of the closet, and that have made them go from heroes to zeroes in a New York minute.  Their prior bad acts have become so offensive to some that people would be apoplectic if they had to pass by a building bearing their name, or a portrait painting.  Really?  Really? I think we would all do very well to take a breath here.  Nobody is perfect, and an issue could be made for just about anyone we honor, whether it is a street name, holiday, building, or even the money we carry in our purses and wallets.  I mean, where does it end?  Just look at our currency:  Jefferson had his slaves, Kennedy had his dalliances, and the list goes on.  Just like the characters God used powerfully in the Bible were a mixture or saints and scoundrels, so it is those we honor in our culture.  And we are not going to always get it right.  Reputations are sacred, and people will do all they can to protect.  But let’s not diminish the great achievements of the people we recognize, and let’s understand that some of their words and action reflect the times and context in which they lived.  So let’s grow up a bit here, and not get caught up in things that are of little consequence, and remember the words of Jesus Christ, (the only one who was, is, and will always be perfect) and who said, “Let the one who is without sin, be the first to throw a stone.”   John