Pete Rose was born too early

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By John Pawlak

  In Connecticut, possession of illegal drugs is a one-year jail term for first offense violators. Most states will lock you up for possession of a single marijuana joint. A gram of cocaine can result in a seven-year prison sentence in New Hampshire. You can get 30 days in jail just for selling a cigarette to a minor.

  The use of illegal drugs can and often does result in jail time. Well, it does for us “normal” people. But one has to wonder why these laws do not apply to the most visible of our citizens, those very people who act as role models for our youth.

  In 2003, Texas Rangers’ Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids usage. Rodriguez won the American League MVP that year and was not even charged for jaywalking. His salary today is $33 million.

  Jose Canseco’s career brought him both fame and riches (a five-year contract in the ’90s netted him over $23 million). No one seemed to find it odd that a man would have biceps like tree trunks, and an almost Popeye-esque disfigurement of sports talent.

  After retiring, Canseco goes on an interviewing circuit to brag about how he took steroids with his Wheaties each morning and even helped inject his teammates. Now that’s teamwork at its best.

  Celebrities and sports figures get away with much more than a daily dose of drugs. Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback Michael Vick was convicted of financing dog fights and running gambling operations while tortured animals were killed in his entertainment ring. His punishment? A two-year contract, $1.6 million for the first year and a second-year option worth $5.2 million ... with an additional $3 million in incentives.

  Cory “C-Murder” Miller was convicted of second degree murder of 16-year old Steve Thomas. Miller is a gansta-style rapper who belts out artistic lyrics bragging about beating women, shooting people, selling drugs and killing anyone who gets in his way. Yes, a role model if ever there was one.

  While on trial for murder, this deep thinker published a hit record and wrote a book, adding to the millions he made by spouting out hatred and rappin’ about killing cops.   

  He then asked his fans to send him money for his defense fund. The fans showered this “hero” with money.

  Oh, how times have changed. In 1989, Pete Rose was forever banned from the Baseball Hall of Fame for betting on baseball.

  Today, the list of movie stars, music icons and sports figures who evade the laws of the land is endless. If today’s mentality had presided back in Pete’s time, the publicity would have easily launched a political career and Pete would have soon found himself mayor of Cincinnati with a seven-figure book deal on the side.

  How bad has it gotten? Los Angeles’ Lakers Kobe Bryant was charged with rape. He sidestepped conviction and settled out of court. He then saved his marriage by purchasing a $4 million diamond ring for his wife. Forbes just listed Bryant as tying for second place in the magazine’s highest-paid athletes list, raking in $45 million a year. Just makes you want to buy a $200 pair of athletic shoes with his name on them, doesn’t it?

  Mike Tyson is one of the few guys who actually got punished for a crime.   

  Convicted of rape, he served three years in jail. After being released, he was “humiliated” by being forced to accept a mere $30 million after biting off Evander Holyfield’s ear in a Hollywood-style punch fest.

  Tennessee Titans’ Adam Jones of the National Football League was “temporarily suspended” for a fight and shooting that left a man paralyzed.   

  Cincinnati Bengals’ Chris Henry was arrested five times over a span of three years. His punishment ... counseling. The Minnesota Vikings’ boating sex scandal. The NHL gambling ring scandal.   

  Tim Donaghy’s gambling. Barry Bonds’ steroids. David Ortiz, Marvin Benard, Jason Giambi, Armando Rios, Chad Allen, Sammy Sosa, Trevis Smith, Roger Clemens, Tim Donaghy, Bill Craver, Shane Hmiel ... it’s like a hit parade of stars in the police lineup and this isn’t even going into the list of actors and actresses and politicians and rock stars. I would get carpal tunnel syndrome just typing out the first names of all the celebrities who break laws and who continue to be idolized.

  With mountains of money to spend and an endless stream of adoring fans blind to the damage these people heap upon society, it’s no surprise that the scandals continue unabated. Their punishment equates to a wagging finger scolding, “Bad boy! Bad boy!” followed by giving them a ticker-tape parade.

  So hey, if you get stopped for speeding, just tell the officer that you’re a football star and that you’re late for your steroid fix. It’s worth a “shot,” huh?