Athlete makes personal stand

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 3, 1999

Scanning the AP wire is a daily ritual for me. After more than 15 years in the journalism business, I have to say not much surprises me any more.

I can honestly say the news from Kansas City did just that. It did surprise me.

The surprising part was the fact that a man, John Tait, made a stand on principle.

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Tait, an offensive tackle, walked out of contract negotiations with the Kansas City Chiefs.

The reason for the walkout wasn’t because of low money. We are talking about a $4 million offer that was on the table.

Tait walked out because of the continuous cursing of Chiefs general manager, Carl Peterson.

Tait’s agent, Ethan Lock, accused Peterson of cursing and bullying Tait, a deeply religious Mormon.

&uot;None of you guys would like to be treated like we were treated,&uot; Lock said. &uot;He used the &uot;F&uot; word four or five times when he was yelling at John and trying to intimidate him. John’s a strong Mormon. After the second one, he stood up and said this is over. It takes a lot of nerve for a 24-year-old kid to say no to $4 million on principle.&uot;

This stand on principle, soon to be known as Tait’s Stand was one I wonder if you or I could make. That amount of money could pay for a lot of things. With that amount of money, many of us could live our life’s dreams. I know I could pay for my son’s education and open up a business of my own.

It is stories like Tait’s that makes one sit back and ask the deep questions that you usually don’t want to ask yourself. Most of the time you don’t ask yourself these questions because you are afraid of the answers you might hear.

Football players and cursing is nothing new. Locker rooms are usually a place of crude jokes and salty language. Most mothers would cringe at the things their boys say in the heat of battle on the football field. Peterson’s cursing to intimidate a first round draft pick to a certain degree shows how far we have sunk in society. People sling around the &uot;F&uot; word like it was a common adjective to use in a sentence. A recent study of teenagers show that they don’t think twice about using the word in common everyday situations.

Peterson should be ashamed of his actions of this week. To his credit, Peterson did call Tait’s father and &uot;apologize for anything I said in a profane sense.&uot; Peterson, who has been president and general manager of the Chiefs since 1989, said he was aware that his language may have offended what he described as a &uot;devout Mormon family.&uot;

While apologizing for using profanity, Peterson said, &uot;I felt that I had a point to make and I made it.&uot;

I guess you could say Tait made his point as he stormed out of the meeting Tuesday. No one has to take that sort of behavior.

Tait has stopped short of saying he will never play for the Chiefs.

He recently completed a two-year Mormon mission. He has contemplated sitting out this season and re-entering the the NFL draft next year.

This saga has yet to end. If Tait is worthy of the money and can help out the team, Peterson will apologize and eat any amount of crow he has to. Tait definitely wants to play football.

Who knows, we might have the makings of a new role model; a football player who is deeply religious and doesn’t appreciate needless cursing

Sounds like a new step in the football evolutionary cycle.

Tim Isbell is creative director at the Democrat. He can be reached at 446-5172 ext. 233 or at