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Chandler Jones and the Modern Professional Athlete

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Another pro athlete makes the news. We all care...but we shouldn't.

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Man am I glad I graduated high school before test scores were posted online. How do kids hide their report cards from parents these days?

Perhaps a better question is, how does anyone hide anything from anybody anymore?

As I'm sure we're all aware by now, Chandler Jones received medical attention over the weekend after having a bad reaction to some kind of substance. Initial rumblings had him on some cocaine or heroin binge, others said he simply had an allergic reaction to some pain meds, and still others were claiming there was some kind of domestic abuse scenario going on. What it actually was, according to more of those wonderful unnamed sources, was an incident with synthetic marijuana that led to Jones receiving medical care.

After following this story all day, learning what will probably settle as the truth, and watching people react to it with varying levels of emotion, I ultimately found myself asking one question:

How happy must the guys who played in the NFL in the 80s and 90s be that the internet wasn't around when they were in the league?

Seriously, how lucky are they? Can you imagine what TMZ would have uncovered snooping around Lawrence Taylor's house? Or how Twitter would have reacted after some fan live-blogged Michael Irvin's night on the town? What would Deion Sanders's Instagram looked like? What do you think that O.J. Simpson...

Actually, never mind.

While one part of me would absolutely LOVE to know the shenanigans that went on during the NFL of the 80s and 90s, it's probably better off that I don't. These athletes must have gotten away with things that I don't even know exist, and nobody will ever be the wiser. Guys were probably checking in with their local PDs all hopped up on who knows what with who knows who, and nobody ever found out. Players went buck wild at all times with zero fear that some random person was going to Tweet about binge drinking or pot smoking or gambling or clubbing or any of the other things that young, successful people in their 20s do to have a little fun now and then. Nowadays, if a guy wants to go out and let loose, he has to wear a wig lest he be noticed by somebody and it become a huge story. We're living in an era where everyone thinks that everything is worth documenting, and personal privacy is getting harder and harder to come by. This simply goes quadruple for anyone in the spotlight. That isn't a complaint, or some kind of moral high-horsery...it's just the reality of the world we live in. And that isn't going to change.

Am I happy that Chandler Jones was all tweaked out on whatever the week of a playoff game? Of course not. Do I really care? Not in the slightest. He hasn't missed a day of practice, and if his performance on Saturday isn't going to be affected, what he does in his spare time is absolutely none of my business. But the fact that I even know that this whole thing occurred and was able to follow the whole story more or less live as additional information came to light makes me wonder just how many skeletons there are out there that are deeply buried in closets purchased by lucrative NFL contracts.

Or in some cases, buried under them.

There are a lot of pluses to having so much information so immediately accessible, and at the end of the day I wouldn't trade the internet for anything; it has helped me avoid human interaction for years now and it's only getting easier as time goes by. But with the good comes the bad, and in 2015 if you're a professional athlete who was enjoying his bye week and had a bad reaction to a synthetic substance far more dangerous than its organic counterpart but you aren't allowed the latter because integrity (and that whole "law" thing the kids are speaking about these days), then you're going to blow up the web for a few days. And should you be an athlete on a team that gets scrutinized to the point where talentless buffoons have made entire careers out of trolling them...well, I guess you just have to deal with it. It's a small price to pay for playing a child's game for a living. Those who are going to have their fun with it are going to have their fun with it, those who don't care will keep not caring, and it won't be too long until another athlete gets caught on a cellphone camera throwing a non-biodegradable styrofoam cup into a river and the world will move on.

Besides, it wouldn't be Patriots playoff season without some sort of controversy. Spicegate has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?