Formerly one of the world’s most respected athletes, now disgraced, asking America to forgive… Well, no, not really. Marion Jones, the sprinter stripped of her Olympic medals for doping and jailed for lying to prosecutors about it, is joining a WNBA team, the Tulsa Shock. And though, like Tiger Woods, she was extremely contrite at her moment of downfall, Jones seems very eager to put her past behind her. “The word redemption is not in my vocabulary,” she told the press.
She did have to work out with the team before the announcement was made, but now the Tulsa management is enthusiastic, laying on the people-make-mistakes and glad-to-have-her-with-us palaver in equal measure. (Jones, 34, played on the UNC college team in the early 90s; She’s been out of prison for a year and a half.)
Some folks are a little snide about it, but Jones’ return is probably a good model for Tiger Woods’. No, not in a new sport, but with minimal reference to the bad old days.
Interestingly, other people are making the promises of redemption for Jones. When WNBA President Donna Orender says Jones is “saying listen, ‘I’m going to be a role model, I’m going to showcase what I’m going to do with the rest of my life,’ ” that’s not a direct quote. Letting them talk reform, rather than having Jones re-blubber her contrition, helps distance the star from her own negative legend. She can be like the ballplayers of old, who did their work, signed some autographs, and got the hell out of there. For starters, anyway.
So long as she stays away from the Hennessey, she should be fine.