One year on and a brand new post! I thought I’d make it easy for starters as Mr John Terry is in court (not for the first time). And this time for “a racially aggravated public order offence” – basically he is accused of being racist to Anton Ferdinand.
Undoubtedly one of the greatest defenders of his generation, he has been capped 77 times by England, captained his country under two different managers and he has led Chelsea through the most successful period in their history. He most recently made a make-shift defence look like a solid unit at Euro 2012 – all in the twilight of his career at the age of 31 and without regular England centre back partner Rio Ferdinand alongside him, although seeing as he allegedly called Rio’s brother Anton “a black cunt” the real question is why it was Rio who was dropped.
So, surely we should celebrate the magnificence of ‘JT’ and his remarkable career which has been built on being a blood and guts defender who puts his body on the line for the cause.
Unfortunately for Mr Terry, footballers are not simply footballers anymore. Rightly or wrongly they are viewed as role models for children across our nation and expected to behave in a manner befitting the responsibility. Which Terry does not. Has not. Will not. Ever.
If we start at the beginning of his charge sheet we arrive in September 2001. Notable for the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York on 9/11, American tourists at Heathrow were lucky enough to have a drunken John Terry harassing them after his match with Levski Sofia was cancelled due to the terrorist attacks. He was fined two weeks wages.
Far be it for me to criticise someone for getting drunk and acting out as a result (but then again I am not a highly paid athlete and ‘role model’) but it is only a few months later in January 2002 that he is charged with assault and affray after confronting a nightclub bouncer. Terry was later acquitted, but perhaps if he hadn’t been out on the lash 36 hours before a game he could have saved himself the trouble…
Then of course we have the infamous stories of John Terry offering private tours of Chelsea’s training ground to undercover reporters. He was cleared by his club. He allegedly tried to sell his box at Wembley (a perk of being England captain) for thousands of pounds – because £130,000 a week just isn’t enough. And don’t forget the failed mutiny he tried to muster in South Africa against Fabio Capello because he didn’t like the system Capello employed and decided to believe his own hype. ‘JT’ decided that despite being an international footballer he qualified for disabled parking while out for dinner with his family – then again the £60 fine is only four minutes work for him…
Whilst Terry is making his own mistakes he isn’t helped by the family around him – a mum arrested for shoplifting and a father caught on camera dealing cocaine. Surely with the wealth of “Captain Marvel” he could ensure his immediate family don’t need to resort to measures that are bound to reflect badly on him.
And everyone has heard about his infidelities. To break it down nice and simply – Man marries woman. Man cheats on woman. It happens. It is a sin that has been committed since time began and will continue forever more. The big difference (apart from the fact that as England captain that alone will cause you problems in the media) is most people don’t decide that after training they are going to pop round to the house of a teammate’s ex-girlfriend, a teammate they just spent a few hours with, someone who as a defender they must have a level of trust with and as a footballer must have some sort of relationship with, and shag that teammate’s ex. Who happens to be good friends with their own wife.
And so to the point. We all know that John Terry is an awful role-model, but if we look at the incidents that have plagued his career it has always been misjudgment on his behalf that has got him in trouble – regardless of whether or not he was later cleared of the incident. There is no doubt that the misjudgment shown is also stupidity, at best.
Harassing Americans after 9/11, confronting bouncers 36 hours before a match, getting stung by undercover reporters, parking in disabled bays, letting mum and dad fall foul of the law, cheating on your wife with teammate’s ex. These are all misjudgments. To continually make these misjudgments whilst Chelsea and England Captain, and thus one of the most talked about and reported on sportsmen in the country, is sheer stupidity.
It is for that reason that I simply do not believe Terry’s defence that the comments he made to Anton Ferdinand were exaggerated sarcasm. Nobody who makes the errors Terry has could possibly be bright enough to know what exaggerated sarcasm is. Equally anyone bright enough to know what exaggerated sarcasm is would have to be bright enough to know that using it in a racial context, as England captain, in front of a TV audience of millions is just asking for a career destroying inquest.
It is a paradox that doesn’t fit, an oxymoron seems an apt word for Mr Terry and his defence.