Gilbert Arenas might not qualify as a role model for kids these days, but as an example to athletes making public apologies, Agent Zero is the man.
He signed an essay that appeared in the Washington Post op-ed page Tuesday, reiterating that he deserved his suspension for using guns (albeit unloaded) as if they were toys in the Washington Wizards' locker room.
"Guns and violence are serious problems, not joking matters -- a lesson that's been brought home to me over the past few weeks," the essay said. "I thought about this when I pleaded guilty as charged in court and when I accepted my NBA suspension without challenge."
The piece was shockingly short on excuses, self-pity and deflected blame. It could have been better. One sentence dances around his initial reaction to the controversy, which seemed frivolous and unrepentant. But in this particular competition, the bar has been set ridiculously low.
Once the gravity of his actions became clear, Arenas wised up and behaved with unusual humility, saying he would accept responsibility and punishment. The contrition might be an act, but it's a performance that Mark McGwire and Michael Vick, to name recent examples, couldn't match.
The Arenas op-ed may have gone through a ghostwriter, perhaps someone connected to his agent, whose client jeopardized an $111 million contract. But most celebrities have consultants for these purposes, and very few manage to get the apology even half right.
McGwire's admission of steroid use went through a rigorous spin cycle before it made its TV debut, and none of his advisers recognized the foolishness and arrogance of claiming that years of steroids hadn't actually enhanced his performance. But whoever came up with the line "I wish I hadn't played in the steroids era" has real talent; he or she should be writing for "Saturday Night Live."
At the very least, Arenas and his advisers learned from that horrendous example.