ANDRE MADE A BAD MISTAKE, BUT HE HAS MADE UP FOR IT SINCE, AS THE GAME’S LEADING HUMANITARIAN

Is Andre just another book salesman?

By now everybody from here to the Somalian pirates knows that Andre Agassi has come clean in his new memoir (“Open”) about using illegal drugs (crystal meth) and telling a big lie about it.  Undoubtedly it will out-sell any other tennis bio.  But is milking another cash cow his motive, as some have suggested?

 

I don’t think so.  To me it’s a catharsis that has been aching, festering to come out for a decade — a need to confess his wrongdoings.  A relief, even though it may be costly in the matter of endorsements and reputation.  As the father of two youngsters, he probably wondered how he could preach honesty to them if he sat on this unsavory truth.

So it’s out in the open, a heavy, thoughtless mistake by a bright man who should have known better.  But instead of spouting, “Say it ain’t so, Andre!” I salute him for his candor, doing the right thing.  He falls into the “nobody is perfect” category, especially since he hurt no one but himself, and deserves forgiveness.

Will this misdeed tarnish his name?  I hope not; it shouldn’t. We love comebacks, and certainly Andre’s progress from punk to paragon over the years is one of the best, particularly his rise from a troubled, drug-tempted No. 141 ranking in 1997 to a genuine humanitarian-with-charitable-foundation today.  I see no reason why Admirable Andre won’t be elevated to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2011, his first year of eligibility, catching up with his wife, Stefanie Graf.

My confession is that I haven’t yet read the entire book, only the exerpts.  Maybe there are other sins within, like jaywalking, sneaking into the movies or speeding in a school zone?

But Andre’s crime was nowhere near the worst committed by a star tennis player.

That would be Vere Goold of Ireland, Wimbledon finalist in 1879.  Goold was a murderer, killing a Frenchwoman in France in 1907, and was imprisoned on Devil’s Island for the rest of his days.  Alas for Goold — no tennis courts on dreaded Devil’s Island.

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