Defending the Right to Party

“You gotta fight for your right to party”

– The Beastie Boys
Kansas Jayhawks 2008 NCAA Basketball National Champions--Street Party

Over the last few days there has been lots of criticism laid at the feet of 23-year old Mike Adams, 323-pound offensive tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who was stabbed in a robbery attempt on the South Side over the weekend. Should he have been there? Well, my daughter, who is exactly his age, learned that the South Side of Pittsburgh, is not a congenial place to be after the sun goes down. How did she learn that? By being there after the sun went down enough times to learn her lesson. She’s probably lucky she doesn’t have a tricked out truck or anything else that would have called so much attention to her that she couldn’t just watch the general chaos that surrounds a popular nighttime hotspot instead of being a star player in it – one way or the other. I’m probably lucky that I didn’t realize how much time she spent down there as a college student and could peacefully sit at home thinking she was safe and sound in her dorm room studying. Mike Adams is not as lucky. But should he have known better? I’m not so sure.

C’mon, it’s not like the Roethlisberger incident of a few years before where he clearly should not have been where he was (the women’s restroom), doing what he was doing. Mike Adams was sitting on his truck. Had he been drinking? Who knows? I don’t, but I can guess. Nonetheless, I’m not sure I care in this case until and unless he took the wheel intoxicated. Which he didn’t – maybe only because the valet had shut down before he could retrieve his keys, but…

Does he live close by so there is some question why he had his truck out in the first place? Maybe. But other than the environmental factor of him wasting natural resources to drive a car to where he could’ve walked, is that really our business?

Should he have known that he lives differently than the rest of us and shouldn’t put himself in those situations? Maybe. But he’s 23. Old enough to go to an area like the South Side for some fun after dark, but young and naïve enough not to realize the potential consequences. Think of all the stupid things you did at 23 and tell me you really are ready to cast that stone? And are you really willing to tell me because he’s a football player he’s not able to also be a young man and do the same thing other young men his age do?

Plus, I was at work several years ago and saw two boys about to break into my car. I ran outside and confronted them. I was supposed to drive that car to Houston the next day to see the Steelers play and wasn’t about to let two punks ruin that for me. So I’m the last one to say it’s just a car, let it go. Mike Adams has 200 pounds on the person I was then. I can only imagine he thought he had control of the situation.

Maybe, because I’m a parent, it’ll surprise people that I am defending Mike Adam’s right to be on the South Side in the middle of the night. But, you know what, I am. I think we’re all missing a boat here. I think we ought to heed Mike Tomlin’s comments, “”We need to recognize that some things are going on that are on the South Side that make it a dangerous place, particularly after hours, and we all need to take proper precautions and, hopefully, as a community, we’ll take the steps necessary to assure that this doesn’t happen to anyone, whether it’s a Pittsburgh Steeler or no.”

I love this city. So, let’s make every part of it safer at all hours and not criticize a young man for being young.

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