Two days ago, I saw a bit on John Rocker on a sports show highlighting the decade of 2000 .
Although this entry doesnt add much positive, inspirational value to my blog …. Rocker’s story is the classic could have been, should have been, but isnt.
In the late 90s John Rocker was one of my favorite baseball players…
I am not a big baseball fan, however, I went to high school with Chipper Jones and although I was not friends with Chipper, what he has achieved as a man and pro baseball player is extraordinary and I follow the Atlanta Braves with great interest.
Back in the late 90s, Rocker was a closer for the Braves. His trade mark was to run on the field sprinting (what looked like) as fast as could run …. he began to dominate the big leagues as a closer with his best year being 1999-2000.
In life sometimes we say stupid things which we can never take back…
In Jan 2000 – Rocker was interviewed by one of the most famous Sports Illustrated writers.
The evening of the interview, Rocker drove with the reporter to a function, thus had the reporters undivided attention for a long period of time.
As they drove…. surely, just to look cool and be funny … over the hour drive, Rocker made several racist, homophobic, and enthnocentric comments as well as talked negatively about the NY Yankees and the NY Mets fans…
Unfortunately, Rocker’s agent did not tell him before the interview “whatever you say, can and will be used against you…”
The interview was a massive success for the reporter and for Sports Illustrated …because of the cover story and the controversy, it sold a lot of magazines and surely a lot of advertisements all at the same time, ruining Rocker’s career.
Once the article came out he was aggressively attacked in the media as a racist and homophob ….. every baseball park in the nation boo’d him and the Braves players. In NY the stadiums had to hire up to 700 police just to protect him.
Imagine the presure …. being a 25 year old kid from Georgia…. and every where you go, even to restaurants and bars people are aggressing you, challenging you to fights, spitting on you, calling you names…I can’t imagine what that guy went through.
Of course Rocker didnt hold up to the presure and said other stupid things when he was being aggressed … (surely out of frustration)
Make a long story short …
Rocker lasted just a few more years. Bounced around from team to team and retired completely unachieving/unfulfilling his true potential.
Rocker could have been and should have been the best closer of his era, but because of one bad night his future as a major league player was lost forever.
Is Rocker a racist?
Of course not — at the time of the article, he was rooming with a black player and in high school a black player lived with his family and I have read his best friends were black.
Is he homophobic?
People dont like to admit this, but in reality most 25 year old white guys from the south have a problem accepting homosexuals.
What he said was unacceptable, but in my opinion was not much different to what the readers of SI were thinking …. surely its something which is changing for the better and more people are accepting …. however, I dont believe Rocker was any different than the others …
(Please note: today many/most rappers make much more aggressively negative homophic comments in their songs than Rocker said in his interview)
Rocker was 25 years old at the time of the article and on top of the game; wealthy with a bright future — but because of one bad night, he lost it all.
I wonder how his career would have turned out had that interview never have happened?