Marquis Cooper and Corey Smith Tragedy Should Be a Lesson to Us All

robert aSenior Analyst IMarch 4, 2009

I wrote an article several weeks ago in an effort to defend Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo from the recent onslaught of criticism that has been rained down upon him from media and fans alike.

Much of the scrutiny levied on Romo stems from his postgame comments following an embarrassing Cowboys' loss to the Eagles that closed out the season.

In that press conference, he addressed the media with what many found to be an attitude of indifference by voicing his belief that worse things can happen than losing a football game.

Perhaps one of his more criticized quotes was, "I've had a lot worse happen to me than a loss in a sporting event, that's for sure. If this is the worst thing that ever happens to me, then I've led a pretty good life."

On a day like today, Romo's comments couldn't ring any more true. Although still not a certainty, it is looking more and more like the National Football League and their fans have lost two more players to tragic deaths this week.

Corey Smith of the Detroit Lions and Marquis Cooper of the Oakland Raiders, along with their friend William Bleakley, are still missing after a three-day search-and-rescue operation off the coast of Florida has been called off.

In the wake of such a heartbreaking development, this past season's wins and losses suddenly don't seem so important anymore. Free agency is a little less interesting, and the upcoming NFL draft is all but trivial.

Now this article was not written in a spirit of "I told you so," and "look how smart I am." While I certainly like to argue and will always do just about anything to prove my stances when given the chance, my inspiration in writing this runs much deeper than simple right and wrong.

I think that we all—fans, media, players, coaches, everyone—stand to learn something from the tragedy that has fallen on these three young men and their families.

I happen to be of the belief that everything happens for a reason. It is a belief that has carried me through some hard times and helped me to get over some tough obstacles.

Whether those obstacles were as small as failing a test or as large as losing a loved one, I have always believed in my heart that there was a reason for the obstacle, and that something positive would come out of it whether I knew it or not.

So here I am tonight, reading a story about a few guys who died before they probably should have. They didn't die as a result of a nightclub altercation. They weren't driving drunk or doing drugs.

They died in an unlikely accident that happened while they were doing what they lovefishing off the Florida coast.

And it's sad. And it doesn't make sense. And it doesn't seem fair.

But as I stressed earlier, there is something to be learned from this, and it is exactly what Romo said. The postgame press conference might have not been the right time to say it, and he might not have said it the right way. Both of those points can certainly be argued—and have been.

What cannot be argued is the overall message that he was trying to deliver. There are more important things in life than the results of a sporting event.

Now, I am just as guilty as the next guy when it comes to taking the game too seriously. I have broken remote controls, have screamed until my throat felt like it was going to explode, and have completely made a fool out of myself by cursing like an idiot at sporting events.

And it would most certainly be a lie if I were to say that I would never do those things again. Sometimes a good yell—yes, even a curse or two—or watching something weaker than you smash into pieces on the ground can be therapeutic.

However, letting sports become the be-all, end-all of your life is a dangerous road to follow.

Life is hard. It is painful. While this world is certainly filled with wonderful and beautiful things, the average person also endures their fair share of hardships, whether it be financial struggles, loss of loved ones, heartbreak, sickness, etc.

Sports are supposed to be an escape. They allow you to—if only for a few hours—forget all of your struggles, and to lose yourself in a world as simple as throwing and catching, hitting and running.

Those who allow sports to become their sole purpose of life—and therefore allow their happiness to be completely dictated by a win here or a loss there—are robbing themselves of the real purpose of sport. They are cheating themselves of the joy that sports can bring.

Barring a miracle, Corey Smith, Marquis Cooper, and William Bleakley have passed away from this earth, but that surely doesn't mean they should be forgotten.

They should be a reminder of how fragile life really is. They should help us all to remember that there really are far more important things in life than the final score on Sunday.

It would be insensitive of me to say that their tragic deaths would be "worth it" if it would help people to gain this perspective. Certainly, for their families and those who love them, finding the silver lining in this terrible circumstance will be truly difficult.

However, if more people can gain this perspective, then maybe—hopefully—their death won't be in vain.

May Corey Smith, Marquis Cooper, and William Bleakley rest in peace. My prayers are with their family and their loved ones.


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