Theres no way to discuss what happened with Tim Thomas without pissing a few people off. In fact, there are probably a handful of people reading this who are already mad. (If youre one of them, I hereby challenge you to a Facebook debate. Today at high noon. Caps lock only)
Yeah, stuff like this always breeds craziness. On both sides. A lightning rod like Thomas unleashes some sort of virtual bomb and like clockwork, everyone freaks out. A few minutes later, were arguing back and forth about things that may or may not have happened 5,000 years ago (and will never be resolved). A few minutes later, total chaos.
Of course, thats what Tim Thomas wants.
Is there any other explanation? Regardless of whether you agree with what he said, theres no doubt that he intended to make a scene. He knew hed be back in the news. He knew people would write these columns. Its obvious that he just wants some attention.
(Thats one major drawback to sports in the Internet age. Its way too easy for needy athletes to get noticed. Thirty years ago, Thomas would have had to send out 50,000 Stand With Chik-fil-A post cards. By the time they arrived, everyone would have forgotten that the story ever happened.)
Im not saying that attention is his only motivation, though. Its entirely possible that Thomas Facebook post is a genuine act of faith. That he truly believes that the legalization of gay marriage will be the cause of our societys eternity in hell, and that its his duty to spread the truth and save the world.
If so, thats fine. Even if you dont agree with what he said, you have to believe in his right to say it.
Lastly, I havent ruled out the possibility that Thomas is just screwing with all of us right now. Its still so hard to believe that a guy who grew up in the same town as Michael Moore and went to college at UVM turned into such a staunch conservative. I think its just as likely that he and one of his old stoner buddies from Burlington are shacked up in Colorado and pulling the strings on a massive social experiment. Like Casey Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix.
But maybe thats a little unrealistic.
Either way, from a sports perspective, the underlying theme in all this is that Tim Thomas has lost a ton of fans this year. There are also a lot of people who are now even bigger fans. But they're not the story. The story is that this guy, who was once universally considered a hero a living legend is now the most polarizing, and in many ways, (with apologies to Josh Beckett) the most hated athlete in recent Boston sports history. And Thomas doesnt seem to care. At this point, hed rather be known for his beliefs than for his ability to play hockey.
In a way, thats refreshing. Its nice to see a guy seek a higher calling, and realize that some things are more important than sports.
I just wish he wasnt so selective.
Its like, if youre going to use your celebrityFacebook page to sound off against injustice and the casualties of the world, thats fine. If you really want to stand against gay marriage? I don't get it, but thats totally up to you. But my question is: Where have you been for the last month? Why not use your platform to take a stand against child rape? Why not stand with the families of the 12 people who were gunned down at a movie theater in your new home state of Colorado? You're worried about hell? What about the people whose lives have been transformed into a living hell?
Of course, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter. Does anything that Tim Thomas says whether it's "Down with Sandusky!"or "I stand with Chik-fil-A!" really matter? He doesn't play in Boston anymore. He doesn't even play hockey anymore. Every time he signs on Facebook it becomes less likely that he'll ever play hockey again. He's just a guy with an opinion. Nothing more, nothing less. And maybe it's time we just start treating him like that.
If you disagree, you know where to find me.
FACEBOOK. HIGH NOON. BRING YOUR EXCLAMATION POINTS.