By Andrew Leci
I have decided to let the dust settle before penning my views on the latest saga involving John Terry.
Firstly, because hindsight is a wonderful thing (and unlike nostalgia, actually is what it used to be), and secondly, because it's easier to say something original once you know what has already been said.
There will be no revelations, I expect, but often in life it's too easy to see things in black and white, despite the existence of so many shades of grey.
The fact that Terry was found guilty of using "abusive and/or insulting words and/or behaviour, which included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race" by an independent FA tribunal, came as no surprise to anyone - the FA wouldn't have set up the hearing in the first place had they not been supremely confident of a conviction (especially after his acquittal in a criminal court).
The difference was that a criminal court had to establish guilt beyond reasonable doubt, while the FA's action merely had ‘probability' to prove. John Terry knew what the verdict was going to be. We all did.
Terry's pleas of innocence revolved around his assertion that he was merely repeating words in order to deny that he had actually said them, "a challenge to what he believed had been said to him" (according to the criminal court's ruling) in which case, there is an argument that he is not guilty of the abuse.
That would lead to the conclusion that he is just plain stupid.
What exactly did he think was going to happen in front of a packed stadium of spectators, and in the full glare of the multitude of television cameras that are present to cover every Barclays Premier League match?
And, perhaps more importantly, why were those words even in the vicinity of an on-field conversation during a match in the first place?
Character witnesses, including former Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti, have come to Terry's defence, insisting that he is not a racist (teammate Ashley Cole weighed in as well, incidentally, although his credentials as a source for a character reference are, at best, questionable).
This may well be the case. Unfortunately, it doesn't matter.
The FA has been desperate to set an example of their zero tolerance attitude to racial abuse, and in many ways John Terry's behaviour has been something of a gift.
It's interesting to compare his 4 match ban to that of Luis Suarez, who was handed down double the amount for an apparently similar offence, while Terry's financial punishment (the largest ever meted out by English football's governing body) was substantially greater. That it amounts to little more than a week's wages for the 31 year old Chelsea captain is neither here nor there, and I suspect his response to writing out the cheque was similarly blasé.
Would Terry have been upset over the apparent damage to his reputation? Probably. Was there much of a reputation to damage? Probably not.
Terry polarises opinion, that much is clear. Chelsea fans love him, and, in all likelihood, would continue to do so even if he were to be convicted as a serial killer, while most of the rest of the world....do not appear to like him very much.
He has a thick skin (we're talking armadillo here), and it's interesting (although not surprising) to note that his performances as a Chelsea player do not appear to have been compromised by any of the trials and tribulations he has undergone. The problem is, it looks as though his moral compass is slightly (I'm being kind) off kilter - possibly as a result of the view he takes in from the pedestal on which he has been put.
Yes, sorry everyone; it's our fault.
We've helped to create the icon; we've played our part in putting him in a position in which he feels that normal rules do not apply, and that, basically, he can do whatever he wants, say whatever he wants and act in a manner (whenever he wants) that most of us would frown upon.
Being a smart, enlightened person has never been a prerequisite for a professional footballer, which is fortunate for many. John Terry is merely another example of a flawed human being who doesn't have the intelligence (emotional or otherwise) to ascribe to a set of standards and a moral code that is at least accepted by most people.
Does it make him a bad person? Probably not, but possibly. Does he seem to care whether we think of him as a bad person or not? I'll let you be the judge of that.