In American sports lore, we have a tendency to label certain athletes as having spent their entire career living in another’s shadow.
As in, they were pretty damn good, but not as good this other dude.
For example, Patrick Ewing would have probably won a championship had he not played at the same time as Michael Jordan. Andy Roddick likely would have won more than just one grand slam if his career didn’t coincide with a guy named Roger Federer.
And Phil Mickelson still cringes every time he hears Tiger Woods’ name.
But one can certainly make the argument that no athlete has ever performed in a greater shadow than Ryan Lochte.
The four-time Olympian is one year older than Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of any sport in the history of our planet. And yet, Lochte still has 12 medals — six of them gold.
But nobody has ever really cared. Because he’s not Michael Phelps.
Instead, Lochte is probably better known for his perception as a dim-witted athlete, fueled by a hilarious SNL impersonation by Seth MacFarlane four years ago; a must-watch, post-interview roast by two talk show hosts; and a short-lived reality TV show on E! that nobody ever asked for.
And this week, Lochte — whose silver blonde bleached hair I can only assume is in tribute to Eminem or Sisqo — pretty much cemented his legacy in that he will be better known for his shenanigans outside of the pool than in it.
You all have been following the story. Lochte, with fellow American swimmers Jimmy Feigen, Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger, went partying all night at a club in Rio last weekend, and then told Olympic officials the following day they were robbed at gunpoint while traveling home early the next morning.
The episode was immediately painted as the most prolific in a series of criminal activity that took place in Rio during the Games, a city that is notorious for its habitual violence.
But then, the story started to change. Put it this way: I could have blogged about this every day this week, and each post would have contained a different narrative.
Brazilian police first couldn’t find evidence of Lochte and the other swimmers’ accounts. Then Lochte’s own retelling bore discrepancies. Then Bentz and Conger were pulled off a plane on Wednesday night. Then Brazilian police determined that the swimmers were flat-out lying.
It’s been a whirlwind turn of events. And just when public opinion was turning on the swimmers and their wild fabrications, TMZ releases a video that sort of corroborates Lochte’s story.
No, the swimmers were not robbed by men posing as police, like Lochte said, but they were held at gunpoint by a gas station security guard, who demanded compensation for the bathroom that they just severely damaged.
In the end, while the story was riveting to follow, it doesn’t look like there will be major consequences. If the worst offense these swimmers committed is lying to police, they will likely be subjected to a mere fine and possibly community service.
Brazilians, however, are outraged that Americans would further stain their country’s already poor reputation with lies, and are demanding harsher consequences — or at the very least, a public apology.
My opinion? Maybe we should give Ryan Lochte another TV show. The man is an endless source of entertainment.
In fact, give him a blog.
There’s room for two studs on the blogosphere.
Think about it, Ryan. It’s all I ask.