February 3rd, 2010
06:40 PM ET

Terry's fate should not rest with Capello

Move over Tiger Woods, there’s a new soap-opera in town. Tales of Tiger having been replaced by Tales of Terry after the captain of the England football team committed the alleged “transgression” (Tiger’s word not mine) of cheating on his wife.

Terry has tried to weather the storm by turning out for his club side Chelsea.
Terry has tried to weather the storm by turning out for his club side Chelsea.

Granted, the level of transgression is much lower than Tiger’s as Terry is only accused of cheating with one woman, not a whole posse.

Of course, in the greater scheme of things one extra-marital affair by a high powered businessman, which is essentially what Terry is, would be no big deal.

But the fact that the woman in question is the ex-girlfriend of his sometime England and former Chelsea team-mate – Wayne Bridge, makes the story a little more salacious, and therefore interesting to the media.

Terry could pay a high price for his alleged error of judgment (Tiger-speak again), as he could lose the England captaincy just a few months before he was due to receive the ultimate honor of leading his country at the FIFA World Cup.

Since he’s decided not to fall on his sword himself by resigning the captaincy, his fate as England skipper now lies in the hands of England’s Italian manager, Fabio Capello, who’s been passed the buck by the English Football Association which insists the decision on Terry will be his and his alone.

Should that be the case? No, because Capello’s brief is not to be the moral conscience of a nation but to put out the best football team he can in order for England to win the World Cup for the first time since 1966.

What’s more, while he outlined a whole host of disciplinary requirements when he took the job – no wives or agents in the team hotel; no tardiness for meals; no room service; no public use of mobile phones; no video games; no lolling about in flip-flops and shorts, - they were all designed to facilitate a better performance ON the pitch, making no mention of the players’ conduct when OFF-duty away from the limelight.

So I disagree that it’s Capello’s responsibility to make the call, not least of all because, when judged in purely football terms, Terry’s ability and leadership qualities make him a natural captain and inspiration to the England team, which is all Capello should care about.

Besides, if not Terry as captain, then who? Rio Ferdinand has a chronic back problem and may not be fit to play throughout the World Cup; Ashley Cole, one of the few certain starters like Terry, is not far removed from a run in with the police, so he’s blotted his moral copybook.

Steven Gerrard could do the job, but, given his erratic injury prone season with Liverpool, would he welcome the added responsibility? I wouldn’t want to put more baggage on Wayne Rooney, because he’s got enough already as England’s main hope for success; and then there’s David Beckham, who knows what it takes to be skipper, but won’t be a regular starter if he goes to South Africa at all. No, for the good of the team.

Terry’s clearly the man, and I wouldn’t want Capello to see it any other way.

On the other hand, if the English F.A is tacitly calling the shots, then I think Terry’s days of leading the team are over, because they have to consider the wider implications of being England captain, which still embodies an anachronistic image of the fine, upstanding, paragon of virtue steeped in the Corinthian spirit.

John Terry is clearly not that. Nor has he ever professed to be, as he was handed the armband as a reformed bad boy, not a career goody two-shoes. But if his relapse makes the men in gray see red, it would come as no surprise to anyone if he was ousted.

Personally, I think J.T has been reckless; stupid, dishonest to his partner; and disloyal to his friend. But, unlike Tiger, who was sold as a role model, I don’t think Terry ever portrayed himself as anything more than a committed footballer who leads the team by example. And that’s all I want from an England captain. I’ll mentor my kids myself.

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Filed under:  Football
February 3rd, 2010
05:08 PM ET

Rules are made to be broken…well, bent at least

If a professional golfer is going to publicly accuse another of cheating he’d want a rock solid argument, given the impact on the image of the player and the game.

Phil Mikelson plays out of the sand at the Dove Mountain course in Tucson, Arizona.(Getty Images)
Phil Mikelson plays out of the sand at the Dove Mountain course in Tucson, Arizona.(Getty Images)

Scott McCarron, an 18-year veteran on the tour, should have known better than to accuse the world number two Phil Mickelson of cheating because he managed to find an interpretation of the rules that allowed him to use a 20-year-old Ping wedge.

Golf’s governing bodies have introduced new rules this year to reduce the amount of control players have on the ball with the shape of the grooves on their irons and wedges. These are new rules and will no doubt be tweaked – as have all rules in golf over time.

Mickelson hasn’t cheated at all and McCarron has since apologized for his comments. A cheating scandal is never a welcome guest in any sport. Golf is reeling from the impact of Tiger Wood’s transgressions so to make such accusations, especially without foundation, was foolhardy.

Some time ago players managed to find a way of interpreting the rules that allowed the use of belly or long putters to help them improve their game. Some players have argued, and many still do, that the longer putters offer an unfair advantage and should be outlawed.

Tell me a sport where teams or individuals don’t look for ways to gain an edge by finding a loophole?

Mickelson might be guilty of bending the rules but the rules are bent in every tournament. Players gain questionable free drops because they convince on course marshals to work in their favor – they know the rules and they know how to work them.

I have watched Tiger look inside his opponent’s bag on the tee to work out what club he is using on a par three and then use the information to his advantage, however small.

The rules state that you aren’t allowed to ask or tell your opponent what club is being used but there is nothing to say you can’t look in the bag. It’s running close to the edge of the rules but not going over.

Mickelson is a fine example of a professional player who doesn’t need to cheat to win and that should be respected unless there is clear cut evidence.

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Filed under:  Golf