The fans who jumped on board during the flashing moments of success are the ones who will only complain about Helton being overpaid and underachieving. Those fans who endured the tough years, who continued rooting despite the lack of talent on the roster, will forever remember how good Todd Helton was. They remember historic seasons from No. 17 when the team was terrible. They remember a once-in-a-generation player.
While fans of Helton remember how good he was for a six year stretch, they also rooted for him because of another fact. He owned a squeeky-clean image. He was never in trouble off of the field, he was a notoriously hard worker and he held himself accountable. A person like that is easy to root for, whether they play professional baseball or clean the bathrooms at an office building.
That image of Helton came crashing down on Wednesday as news came out that the 39-year-old was arrested for driving under the influence late on Tuesday night.
For Helton fans, the quickest response is to defend their man. For years Helton has been the poster child for a role model. Nothing that Helton did off of the field could be condemned. It makes it easy to want to give the man a free pass.
The issue is that, regardless of his past, Helton committed the same crime that caused many fans to stop cheering for players like Carmelo Anthony, Matt Prater and Knowshon Moreno. It isn't fair to give Helton a free pass, regardless of his previously clean image.
The reaction to the Helton news came in many different forms. Fans on Twitter were as far divided as condemning him to calling it a mistake that most people have made in their lives.
Helton deserves to be treated just like anyone else who has ever been caught drinking and driving. The reality is there is no justification for driving under the influence. Just because many, if not most people have been guilty of it at some point in their lives, doesn't mean that it is just a small mistake.
The mistake Helton made is the same mistake that has left many children parentless and many parents childless. It has ripped through the lives of so many people who were innocently on their way home from work, school or simply out for a drive. There is no excuse for a mistake that has the potential to effect other people that didn't make the same decision.
Not every bad situation comes equipped with a lesson. However, this one seems to have one. Helton, a guy who was blameless off of the field, someone who parents told their children to behave like, suddenly fell from grace. One bad decision quickly put an asterisk behind his name when anyone claims that he was the model citizen.
It serves as a reminder that it isn't just bad people who get caught breaking the law. Sometimes the best humans in the world make mistakes that could have long-lasting ramifications. Despite the fact that Helton has never been in trouble, one quick decision altered his image for a long time. Even a guy with a squeeky-clean image can make a poor decision that leads to something bad happening.
So does this mean that it is time to take the Helton poster in your kid's bedroom down? Not yet. The answer to that question will come with a few more details about the case and more importantly, how Helton handles himself after the fact. In the early stages, Helton has taken responsibility for his actions, but PR firms usually take care of statements from professional athletes.
If Helton is open and honest, not hiding from questions or from the spotlight that he has forced himself into, he can be forgiven. If he shies away and his explanation doesn't line up with the evidence, than it is a different story.
There is simply no excuse for someone in the public spotlight to not call a cab or call a friend for a ride. In Helton's case, there is no reason whatsoever for him to leave his house after he had polished off a few glasses of beer. However, the decision was made and the consequences will follow. How Helton reacts to those consequences will go a long way in showing his true character.
The mistake was made. Helton can't take that back. What he can do is finish what he has done up until this point and lead by example. This time will be different, instead of showing how to live a spotless personal life, he can show how to pick up the pieces after a bad decision.
Helton's actions moving forward will determine if people remember him with his arms outstretched in victory after clinching the National League pennant, or if he will be remembered for a drunken, embarrassing mugshot taken at 2:30 in the morning.
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