When I was 10 years old, my favorite athlete was the star pitcher for my hometown Mets, Dwight Gooden. I then felt betrayed by his drug use, disappointed by his decline, and moderately annoyed by his comeback with the crosstown Yankees ... but all these years later, the betrayal and disappointment and annoyance have long faded. I understand Gooden is a flawed human, and “flawed human” is redundant. We never love an athlete as purely as we loved our favorite athlete when we were 10. When I was 10, Dwight Gooden was my favorite. I still think of him that way.
-- Michael Rosenberg is a Senior Writer for Sports Illustrated and author of the excellent War As They Knew It about the Woody Hayes-Bo Schembechler rivalry.