Jerome Simpson is a professional football player for the Minnesota Vikings. He recently asked fans to forgive him for spending 15 days in jail on a drug-related charge.
He pleaded guilty on March 1 to a felony charge. Two pounds of marijuana were shipped to his Kentucky home in September when he was a member of the Cincinnati Bengals
“I’m not a drug dealer or anything,” he said. He has served his time.
So, do fans have the right to forgive him? After all, the fans had nothing to do with the purchase. They are not members of his immediate family who might be directly hurt by the incident. Can fans legitimately forgive him?
I think the answer is, “Yes” because fans put faith in athletic heroes and come to legitimately expect good conduct to go along with excellent athletic ability. Fans invest time and money in the athletes and teams and therefore have a right to resentment. They then have the right to offer or to withhold forgiveness.
In an earlier blog post (April 5, 2012) I made the point that it was not legitimate for a blogger to forgive the Chicago Cubs players for failing to win the 2003 National League Championship Series. So, what is the difference between the current call for forgiving an athlete and the previous caution not to do so?
The key to the answer is this: Was genuine injustice done in each case?