- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Ron Mexico is finished now as the quarterback America once knew. He never can be who he was destined to be.

He never can be who he was destined to be. He never again will be the quarterback with the unlimited future, the strong passing arm and quickness galore.

That quarterback is done, history, after Mexico’s legal team announced yesterday the quarterback would enter a guilty plea at his hearing next week in Richmond.

Mexico likely is going to prison, where he will have plenty of time to wonder how he could have allowed himself to become involved in a pursuit that is illegal in a nation of dog lovers.

He has lost it all now. He has lost his 10-year, $130 million contract. He likely has lost his freedom. If so, the 27-year-old has lost, arguably, the prime years of his career, assuming he will not be returning to the NFL until the 2009 season at the earliest, and that is possibly assuming a lot.

Mexico lied to the NFL commissioner, he lied to the owner of the Falcons and he lied to the football public, including those who desperately wanted to believe in him and said no judgment would be passed until he had his day in court.

That day no longer is necessary.

He is guilty of leading a dogfighting operation that was based on a property he owned in Surry, Va. He is guilty of failing to meet his responsibilities to his employer, coaching staff and teammates.

We have read the news stories that detail how Mexico and his inner circle treated the dogs that were not up to fighting standards.

It was sordid stuff. Dogs were put to death by drowning, hanging, electrocution and, in one case, by slamming the poor creature to the turf. And, of course, the principal purpose of the sport is to gamble on the outcome of two dogs fighting to the death.

The gambling issue alone could provoke the wrath of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who is trying to clean up the depreciating behavioral standards of NFL players.

Goodell has made it clear that even if players sometimes appear to be above the law because of their money and fancy attorneys, they are not above his law.

So he is not apt to be in a benevolent mood with Mexico, who has earned the scorn of animal rights activists everywhere.

Goodell also has a public relations nightmare in Mexico, who undoubtedly will continue to express a series of apologies as he seeks a return to the NFL in one of the seasons ahead.

Goodell does not want to appear to be overly heavy-handed with Mexico, but he cannot be seen as kowtowing to someone who looked him squarely in the eye and said, “I am innocent.”

Either way, his handling of the Mexico situation will be one of Goodell’s defining moments as commissioner.

Mexico will play a role in all this as well. If he becomes embittered by what has befallen him, by what he has done to himself, he will earn few sympathizers. An embittered Mexico also will unnerve those desperate enough to consider his services.

If Mexico learns a few things in the years ahead, it should be the capacity to be contrite and to claim that which is his.

This one is all on him. His sycophants were just along for the ride. They would have done whatever Mexico’s money told them to do.

And now Mexico has thrown it all away and for nothing but a few sick thrills.

He probably is going to miss at least two seasons, maybe more, and he is going to be away from the game that demands constant repetition from its practitioners.

He will not be the same player if or when he returns because he will be missing several essential developmental seasons in his portfolio.

They are the seasons that allow players to compensate with knowledge for what they are losing to physical deterioration in incremental stages.



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