Ed Graney: Bad week for football, thanks to Carter, Sarkisian

Ed Graney The Las Vegas Review-Journal
RJ FILE*** LOCAL - Las Vegas Review-Journal Sports columnist, Ed Graney, is photographed at the R-J studeo Monday morning, May 22, 2006. CLINT KARLSEN/REVIEW-JOURNAL (slug: coumnsig_graney)

I knew something was missing all these years.

I never had a fall guy.

Think of all the rowdy shenanigans I could have created at those sports writer parties while debating fantasy drafts.

It sure would have been comforting had someone taken the blame for that red wine stain on my buddy’s carpet.

Of course, I also never spoke at a gathering liquored up like David Hasselhoff munching on a hamburger, dropping F-bombs and telling others they sucked.

Unless, of course, I was talking about the New York Giants.

Thank heavens for John Logie Baird, the fellow credited with inventing the first video camera. In times like these, we owe Big John a debt of gratitude.

It’s a wonder athletes at the college and pro levels don’t exhibit even more shades of lawlessness when you consider some of the knuckleheads setting examples.

For starters, Cris Carter and Steve Sarkisian.

Neither committed some heinous crime. They didn’t cause anyone direct physical harm (unless you count Sarkisian’s liver) or threaten others. But if you’re wondering why the message to athletes about how to act in a responsible manner is perhaps as screwed up as it has ever been, watch those video clips of Carter and Sarkisian that made the rounds on the Internet this week.

In Sarkisian, you have a football coach at Southern California drunk and slurring his obscenity-laced words while speaking at a booster event when introducing his team, a gathering in which Sarkisian knew well beforehand that he would be the one talking and yet still chose to drink enough that he had to be escorted from the stage by his boss before finishing his rambling comments.

Sarkisian said Tuesday he had mixed prescription medication with a “little bit of alcohol” during the booster event. Which is sort of like when an athlete gets popped for steroids and says he didn’t read the label.

In Carter, you have a Hall of Fame player seen addressing NFL rookies at a symposium last year in which he said they needed “a fall guy in your crew” in case the player got into trouble.

Translation: Someone to take the blame for illegal activities and go to jail in your place.

The NFL has since removed the video of Carter’s speech from the its website — don’t you love that it had been up for a year? — either because officials realized how ridiculously irresponsible his words were or someone noticed Carter was joined on stage by former NFL player Warren Sapp, who giggled like a buffoon at the notion of having another accept blame for one’s actions.

“We’ll get him out,” Sapp said while chuckling, insinuating that bail wouldn’t be an issue for the predetermined fall guy.

First things first. Sapp speaking to anyone — much less fellow NFL players — about how to act responsibly off the field is like asking Donald Trump to address a rally for undocumented immigrants. Take away his arrests on domestic battery in 2012 (two years before the NFL allowed him on stage with Carter) and those this year of soliciting a prostitute and assault, and Sapp has proven to be a peach of a guy.

I actually believe Sarkisian’s episode isn’t as damaging as Carter’s warped sense of reality. Not that the coach shouldn’t be suspended for a game or two — what do you think would happen to his starting quarterback in a similar situation? — but his statement of apology and public vow to seek help for his issues could go a long way in mending those cardinal-and-gold fences erected by his actions.

I’m guessing a 63-0 blitzing of Arkansas State to open the season will calm those boosters upset with how their coach acted last weekend.

I’m guessing it won’t help Sarkisian in a way he obviously needs.

But the Carter situation is much worse.

Almost 30 NFL players have been arrested in 2015 alone, according to a data base compiled by USA Today. Charges of drugs, guns, domestic violence, driving under the influence, burglary, animal cruelty, resisting, evading, indecent exposure, rape.

On and on.

And now we discover one of the elite players at his position in league history actually promoted and encouraged the idea of convincing others to take the fall for such illegal activities?

I don’t know which Chris Carter is real — the one who went straight street-cred on that symposium video or the one we see as a weekly NFL analyst — but this was yet another embarrassing moment for a league that can’t seem to get out of the way of itself.

Carter has predictably apologized and said he regrets his words, because that’s what happens when a videotape of one’s moronic discourse is released to the public and your employer (ESPN) openly criticizes the incident.

You become worried about a lot of things, mainly keeping your job.

It wasn’t a good week for Sarkisian and Carter.

It was a worse one for football in general.

Everything begins with a message, and the ones on those videos were wrong and terribly misguided.

Now, back to the really important things in the eyes of the NFL, like air pressure levels in footballs…

Ed Graney can be reached at On Twitter: @edgraney.