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Wednesday, July 15, 2015


I, like most people my age, watched the Cosby Show when it was at its peak. Bill Cosby was the cool dad that had everything under control. I wasn’t one of those people who wanted Bill Cosby to be my dad, but I was taken in by the wholesome image and the babbling nonsense that he was so famous for.

Fast-forward to today and Bill Cosby has become a dirty word. I still think that some of these women are looking for money (their civil lawsuit doesn’t dissuade me), but after seeing everything that has come out lately it is impossible to ignore the fact that everyone’s favorite dad was a raging and dangerous pervert.

Marcel Dareus gets arrested for drag racing, Ryan O’Reilly gets drunk and does a hit and run on a Tim Horton's, and then Bills offensive line coach Aaron Kromer gets arrested for punching a boy in the face over a beach chair. I have dealt with the younger generation and while it is absolutely inappropriate to punch anyone in the face, it is not out of the realm of possibility to consider that an NFL coach would lose it on some smartass kid and blast him one. It does not make it right and I have no idea if that is what happened, but it is not out of the realm of possibility.

Can kids have heroes anymore? In the days before social media, incidents like the ones involving Dareus, O’Reilly, and Kromer could have easily been stifled by the Bills and Sabres. Since the Kromer incident happened in Florida, the possibility of a cover-up would have been much simpler for the Bills. But with social media pointing out everyone’s flaws, is it possible to have heroes anymore?

Along with the spotlight that social media shines on everyone, you have the people on social media who chastise anyone who looks up to anyone else. If you have a hero, then post something positive about that hero on Facebook. I guarantee that within minutes you will have at least one person admonishing you for looking up to a person like that. You will learn made-up facts about your hero that you never even knew existed and it will drive you to look for new heroes. But heroes are hard to come by these days.

I was thinking about my heroes growing up and they were all pretty much Buffalo Sabres and people in the Sabres organization. Roger Crozier was a huge, early influence on my life. Even at a really young age, I could appreciate the way that the Artful Dodger would do everything he could to win a game on his own. Rick Jeanneret is still a hero of mine because I haven’t found anyone who so emphatically defends WNY and the hockey team I love like he does. I had no idea about RJ’s drinking problem until social media came around. He is still my hero.

This rash of college and professional football players getting arrested for domestic violence is incredibly troubling. Kids go to training camp to get the autographs of these players and those kids may want to grow up to be like those players. The players say they are not role models, but they are because kids want role models and famous athletes are accessible. Then Ray Rice is shown knocking his wife out on television and the whole thing falls apart for kids all over the country.

Kids don’t understand the hypocrisy of a league that says it stands against domestic violence, yet one of its largest sponsors is an alcohol manufacturer. That type of subtlety is lost on a 10-year-old kid who used to think that Ray Rice was the greatest running back ever. All that kid knows is that his hero punched out his wife and now that kid is totally lost.

So we can’t have heroes anymore because social media exposes our heroes as human. Maybe it was best when we didn’t find out that guys like Ryan O’Reilly smashed into a building while he was drunk. In all honesty, how does that change our lives? It doesn’t. But now that kid who was so happy that O’Reilly is a Sabre has to listen to everyone chastise O’Reilly for doing something that people all over WNY do at least three or four times a week all summer long.

Not only is this country more divided than ever, but now kids are hesitant to have heroes anymore. I used to think the Internet was the greatest invention mankind had ever created. Hell, I make my living on the Internet. But now I am starting to think that the Internet just robs too much from us all and it has completely altered the idea of growing up. Thanks to the Internet, no one has an innocent childhood anymore. No one grows up wanting to experience the great, big world because they see what is out there every day on social media.

Thanks to the Internet, we can’t have heroes anymore. It makes you wonder what else the Internet is robbing from our kids and how much more damage is being done by allowing everyone to have an opinion on everything that everyone else can read.

Rick Jeanneret is still my hero and he always will be. No, I don’t want to discuss it.

+George N Root III is a Lockport resident and no one’s hero. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3 or send him a message at georgenroot3@gmail.com. If Rick Jeanneret is reading this, send George a message. It would make his life complete.



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