How YOU should honor ME

Submitted by BigTex on July 19th, 2011 at 12:02 PM

Is it just me, or is anyone else getting tired of hearing athletes (or former athletes) commenting on how they should be honored? This seems to be happening more and more these days, and it's leaving a bad taste in my mouth. 

Recently, Kareem Abdul Jabbar made comments about how he should have a statue outside of the Staples Center in LA based on all he did and has done for the Laker organization.  His contributions can't be disputed, but does that really give him the right to determine how he should be honored?  Now Desmond Howard is suggesting (via multiple venues) that his number should be retired at UofM.  There is no question that he has had a tremendous (yeah, I said it) impact on the university both on and off the field.  He is a great advocate for Michigan and should be honored.  I have no real concerns with how it is done, but is it really his place to discuss how he should be honored?

I liken it to helping a friend:  They tell you they really appreciate your help and what you mean to them as a friend.  You respond by saying, "Thank you so much...that means a lot.  It would really mean a lot if you could pay me in cash or perhaps even a car."

I may be old school, but I feel like an honor is something that is bestowed upon you by an individual, organization, group, etc.based on your accomplishments and contributions to/for the respective group.  You shouldn't comment on when and how it is done. The "honor" is that they want to honor you in a way they feel is appropriate, and you are grateful for that gesture.

I have a greater respect for those who accept honors with humility and appreciation...not suggest and even critique the method by which they are honored.

I am open to the group's thoughts on the subject. 


[Ed. Note--I am not intending this discussion to become a debate about the greatness of specific individuals or their accomplishments.  And I certainly do not want my thoughts above to be perceived as blasphemy against Desmond who is clearly a Michigan Icon]



Incredible Hoke

July 19th, 2011 at 12:13 PM ^

OT I know, but Malware is back. I just was on it on my work computer and now a flood of viruses have appeared. Just beware everybody. You don't want this to happen to you, now I can't get any work done.


July 19th, 2011 at 12:14 PM ^

DH has been to a number of different schools since he joined ESPN and he does see jerseys and statues of school icons that he knows are not as accomplished as he is. it has to eat away after a while. I am with you that I would not ask for it but I am not DH.


July 19th, 2011 at 12:49 PM ^

But those are different schools.  Those schools do a lot of things differently than we do, and I know Desmond wouldn't advocate all of them.  Every M fan knows who Desmond is and well love him.  If he's anywhere near Ann Arbor or seen by any M fans, I'm sure he's told about how awesome he is. 

It's not like Woodson or Harmon have a stature or number retired and he doesn't, that I could understand.  But no one does (or has in a very long time), and that's how it is at Michigan.  If the people at Michigan decide to change that, he'd probably be the first one honored. 


July 19th, 2011 at 12:20 PM ^

They tell you they really appreciate your help and what you mean to them as a friend. You respond by saying, "Thank you so much...that means a lot. It would really mean a lot if you could pay me in cash or perhaps even a car."

Hey, what's wrong with that?


Blue in Yarmouth

July 19th, 2011 at 12:21 PM ^

Strictly in terms of the topic and not getting in to specific cases, I don't think any athlete/celeb should openly campaign for honors (whether it is retired jersey's or anything else). If an organization felt strongly about your contributions they would honor you, if they didn't they won't. I mean...let's be honest, is it really an honor if you had to ask them to do it?

In the realm of retiring numbers in college sports in general, I just think it is a bad idea. Especially in football when you have 85+ players on a roster and numers that range between 1-99. When you look at a storied program like UM and consider all the greats that have played over the years I just think honoring them by retiring their numbers is a bad idea.

I like the idea of a statue or plaque (like in Yankees stadium) or something like that, but retiring their numbers would become pretty problematic, especially given our history.

To your topic though (again), I think a specfic player voiciing their belief that they should be honored is lame to say the least.


July 19th, 2011 at 12:21 PM ^

I don't like it either, but I wouldn't say that your friend scenario is entirely accurate. Schools and sports programs do honor former players regularly. People don't pay their friends for being their friends. 

That being said, athletes should never ask for these honors. If the University of Michigan wants to do something to honor one of their greatest sports icons, then Desmond Howard should be gracious in accepting it, and even if he thinks it's long overdue, he shouldn't bring it up himself. It hits me the same way as some political figure having his citizens build a statue of him because he said to do so. The problem now is that if it happens it'll look like it's because he said something. It won't come off as genuine even though I do think he deserves it.


July 19th, 2011 at 12:22 PM ^

In DH's defense, wasn't he kinda asked to answer this question? It wasn't like he brought it up unprompted, he was getting into the CFHOF and it's likely that College Game Day will be at the ND game which would be an appropriate venue. He did sort of volunteer his request, but it's not like Kareem just saying he should have a statue.

Mr Mackey

July 19th, 2011 at 12:32 PM ^

This is what bothers me about everyone getting on Desmond's case. He was specifically asked in an interview about how he feels about his number being retired, and he replied with "I think it's time.. (blahblahblah)"

He didn't just randomly say it out of the blue. Yes, it probably would've been a better response to say something like, "Oh I would be so flattered and I don't know if I deserve it, but it'd be a great honor," but that's not Desmond Howard. That's something Denard would say, and it's something Nick Lidstrom has said many times. But that's just not who Desmond is.


July 19th, 2011 at 12:23 PM ^

Agree with OP and this rubs me the wrong way as well. However, I don't think anyone can deny that UofM in general does not honor their former athletes as well as other teams
<br>Take Bill Buntin or Rudy T for example who should've had their jerseys retired long ago. Desmond should've been honored long ago as well
<br>Maybe it's our culture of "the team" but I really think UofM as a whole could stand to better celebrate past players, especially in football where we have one of the richest histories.

Surveillance Doe

July 19th, 2011 at 12:26 PM ^

A part of me wonders if DH found out what the AD has in mind for the ND game, and whatever it will be turned out to be pretty underwhelming, especially after rumors of a jersey retirement had already circulated. He might be responding to something we don't know yet.

Again, I hope not. And, to the OP, I completely agree with your premise. I also think that an organization has a duty to ensure that its public icons never feel snubbed or as if they need to speak out.

Surveillance Doe

July 19th, 2011 at 12:26 PM ^

A part of me wonders if DH found out what the AD has in mind for the ND game, and whatever it will be turned out to be pretty underwhelming, especially after rumors of a jersey retirement had already circulated. He might be responding to something we don't know yet.

Again, I hope not. And, to the OP, I completely agree with your premise. I also think that an organization has a duty to ensure that its public icons never feel snubbed or as if they need to speak out.


July 19th, 2011 at 12:46 PM ^

Desmond deserves to have his number retired, but he shouldn't campaign for it.  The team, the team, the team.  If he is answering a direct question about it in an interview, he should use a deflective answer like "personal honors are always nice, but it's about the team at the University of Michigan."  Then, he should change the subject.


July 19th, 2011 at 1:05 PM ^

We're talking about how Osgood will get into the HOF but shouldn't get his number retired while teams and schools are putting up statues left and right of every guy who ever sold peanuts during games. If Michigan put up statues like Texas and Alabama do we could fill the Big House with them. They have statues outside the Staples Center to Gretsky, Magic, Oscar DeLa Hoya, Chick Hearn, and (finally) Jerry West. Jerry West deserves a statue in LA, Magic would deserve a statue in LA years from now, Gretsky deserves a statue somwhere in Canada but not in LA, and Kareem probably deserves one more than them all in Los Angeles. Not giving him one and putting one up for a boxer and a sportscaster, and giving Magic one first is a very serious oversight and I'm not surpised he feels slighted. Bill Russel called out MJ to his face after asking him if he thought he was the greatest in an interview. Scottie Pippen calls Lebron the greatest ever and noone gives love to Kareem. He just finally got pissed off, and I don't blame him. Desmonds case is different, though.


July 19th, 2011 at 4:26 PM ^

I agree with what Kareem said as well. And it is absolutely ridiculous that they don't have a statue up for him yet when they have even repeatedly have said they would. I mean, he's not just argubably the greatest Laker of all time, he has a strong argurment for greatest NBA player of all time. As for Desmond, as great as he was for the University, there's no precendent set for U of M having statues of former greats. While I believe we should have something more to honor him, he is no Kareem and we don't honor former players in the same way as the Lakers, so his comments were a little off the mark.


July 19th, 2011 at 2:57 PM ^

to let others sing your praises, and to keep quiet if they don't. That's what I was taught, at least with respect to team sports.

Desmond is one of the greatest UM players in history, and I'll forever enjoy re-watching the highlights of his games, but I lost a good deal of respect for him because of his embarrassing campaign for additional personal honors. Apparently the Heisman and daily appearances on ESPN don't provide the adulation he craves.


July 19th, 2011 at 4:59 PM ^

It does seem that lately many athletes want to be honored before an organization is ready to do so. They spout off to the media like a 16 year old who didn't get a Ferrari cake for their birthday. I would understand if they were 80 years old and still waiting around because these guys do deserve one more day in the spot light. Wait for your moment, it will be worth it.


July 19th, 2011 at 5:28 PM ^

Didn't Desmond call out the fan base for making Denard seem larger than the team?  I would think he's already going to get a large amount of attention at the first Michigan night game on national tv. 


July 19th, 2011 at 10:05 PM ^

Thank you for writing this.

I know that this really dates me to an era when there were vinyl records, black and white TVs and only 3 TV stations nationally, but it is matter of style. The greatest players of the past, regardless of their sport were as determined and egoistically as anyone who is playing the game today. They all sought to be successful and drove themselves and often their team mates mercilessly. But it was also the style at the time to be self-effacing and humble in public, to never to be seen crying out for attention - that was to be seen as a publicity hound or showboater. Some of the change is due to the nature of pro sports - the real money is paradoxically not on the field, it is in off-field endorsement, so fame and popularity does count. So it is fine balance being a good team mate and cultivating a "good guy" image so when success comes on the field, it can yield huge bookings in off-field endorsements. If one is successful on the field but don't come across as a endorsement hound, you'll often do better because the few endorsements will be big ones.

Calling for your own statue and your own number to be retired just makes me sad. It makes me sad to think the greats turn out to be like us, yearning desparately to be loved and wanting attention and public displays of affection. It is actually sort of passe since with modern video and film, one can actually see the greats play. Does Bill Russell, certainly as great a player in his time and certainly a great influence on the modern NBA game, need to call for a statue? Why just a statue? Isn't it considered enough to be mentioned in the very short list of the greatest players of all time? Does it have to be a big shiny geegaw thing? Those people who saw Michael Jordan play at his best don't need a statue to remind them that they saw an amazing player, just as anyone who ever saw Barry Sanders break a long run knows they witnessed something miraculous. We'll probably be watching replays of DR's run against ND decades from now. So long as we have video replay, these greats have really achieved a form of immortality.

It is a better move not to remove a number from circulation, but to honor those who wore that number by only having the very best players wear it - those who can rise to the challenge of wearing that number. That is the best way to keep the memory alive of the great Wolverines players of all time.