"I met the charter at LaGuardia Airport," Padwe said. "I get there, and a reporter, very well-known and respected, says to me, 'We don't write about sex with this team.' As if that's what I did in Philadelphia. Here he was lecturing me, and that was 1972. The theory was, nothing off the field. Because if somebody started writing about what happened off the field, then the reporters had to work harder."
Padwe doesn't believe in look-away, any more than he believes in tell-all, journalism. And he believes that Rodriguez might have set himself up for such scrutiny, not only due to his salary, but due to transparent attempts to craft an image as a completely virtuous character.
"The leagues and teams still sell their product and their players, even in colleges, almost as paragons of virtue," Padwe said. "A-Rod, he has written a children's book, and I remember he got a hell of a lot of publicity for that in New York. He has a PR machine. Here's a player out here, who is not only the highest-paid so there's a lot of interest, but if he is portraying himself as family man and writing children's book, and then gets caught up in Toronto with the stripper — that then becomes fair game. You can't have it both ways."
Another factor has contributed to the circus around Rodriguez:
Where he plays.
Jay Feely spent two seasons kicking for the New York Giants before joining the Miami Dolphins.
"In New York, everything's magnified," Feely said. "There's more reporters, there's so many more newspapers, everybody has to get a story, it's so cutthroat. So they do look for any kind of edge to create a story that somebody else doesn't have."
Mary Altaffer / AP
As Alex Rodriguez knows, the media spotlight shines brightly in New York city.
"When you miss a kick in New York, you end up on Saturday Night Live," said Feely, who was portrayed by comedian Dane Cook on the long-time late night NBC show after missing three times in Seattle in 2006.
And when you are caught on camera with a mysterious miss, you could end up on the cover of a tabloid.
Not every prominent sports journalist is comfortable with that trend.
"Maybe I'm a dinosaur, because I don't subscribe to the theory that once a celebrity, everything is open game as far as being an athlete," long-time Newsday columnist Shaun Powell said. "If it doesn't affect performance, and doesn't affect win-losses, then it's none of my business."
Not surprisingly, athletes appreciate that philosophy.
"When the the media gets in people's personal lives they're taking it too far," New England Patriots running back Laurence Maroney said.
"None of it is fair game," Maroney's teammate, linebacker Adalius Thomas said.
"It's what it is: personal," Thomas said. "You're taking something away from the game into something that doesn't affect the game. When it doesn't affect the game, that's when it's overboard."
Thus, Thomas makes an exception for an injury suffered at home.
What about an athlete's personal life affecting his mental state at work?
"Well, how about reporters that are going through divorces," Thomas said. "It doesn't affect their mental state or how they write?"
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