Athletes Anonymous

OK We don’t expect pro athletes to be the most diplomatic bunch around. After all, they’re athletes, not barristers. Still, their growing share of the media spotlight leaves ample room for tainting one’s image.

Take T.O.. He couldn’t leave well enough alone and was thus publicly admonished, then officially banished from The Eagles organization. This week at the Australian Open, Maria Sharapova came this close to a media meltdown at her presser following her loss to Justine Henin-Hardenne.

And just when the controversy seems to have subsided, Bode Miller chooses to take a cue from another bad boy Ron Artest by leveling cheating charges against two other sports icons: Lance and Barry.

Where does this lead? The other week Newsweek took Bode and others to the woodshed on its cover. GQ just published its list of the “Ten Most Hated Athletes.” The Merc-News had a clever piece on “who’s the biggest loser: Artest of Owens?”

I’m a big proponent of media training for anyone whose vocation puts them in the news, but perhaps there are some who should refrain from interviews altogether. On the other hand, we’ve all see how bad behavior can be a career springboard. T.O. just landed a starring role in a new national TV commercial by some exploitive telecom company.