How do you take the measure of a man?

For those who don’t follow such things, Chris Henry, a young wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals died this week in a car accident. Even just that sentence begins the idea behind this post. What really happened was that he had some type of dispute with his fiancée, and as she left their home, he jumped into the back bed of her pick up truck.

 

He fell, or was thrown, from the car, severed his spinal cord, was in critical condition for approximately half a day, and finally passed away.

What struck me were the incredibly disparate things that were heard about him.

 

Again, for those that don’t follow these things, Henry was one of the members of the Bengals who largely were responsible for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to install a stricter behavior requirement. Henry, in fact, had been suspended from the league.

 

The owner of the Bengals, however, believes in giving troubled players a second chance, and, even over the objections of his coach, Marvin Lewis, known for HIS openness to “questionable” players, brought Henry back.

 

But those who knew him for years universally described him as quiet, sweet, shy, caring, loving, considerate, respectful, and many more hyper positive attributes.

But these were not the typical post mortem type of statements but I sensed that they were truly genuine expressions of feeling for this tragic young man.

 

What is also true, though, is the description that the judge gave him just over a year ago during sentencing for his latest crime “Young man,” the judge said to him, “it seems you have become a one man crime wave”.

There were arrests and convictions for drugs, assault, and all the usual other offenses associated with the overpaid, babied athlete.

 

And yet, there were those testimonials. And not a few, but dozens. By good, honest people. There were the 4 children, who by all accounts, he adored. But for whom, he clearly was a terrible example.

 

And I was left wondering, what makes us who we are? When do we say “this person is bad” or “this person is good”? Can we ever say either? I am one who decries the failure by our society to ever simply say “this is wrong”, so it is a particularly difficult question for me.

 

No answers here, simply questions.

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