“It’d be great if there were a perfect opportunity to beat the [expletive] out of him if I wanted to, but that wouldn’t be right,” Taylor’s father says. “Because he did a great job for me — believe it or not, he really got through to the kids.”
A-Rod visited Boys and Girls Clubs and high schools with Hooton in Miami and New York the past several years, telling kids he made a mistake and that they have the God-given traits they need to be whatever they want — that there is no need to put pills and syringes in their bodies to look like their athletic heroes.
Finally, Hooton thought, after testifying to Congress in 2005 with other parents whose cut and buff sons took their own lives after they got off their ’roid cycles, a former cheating superstar who became an advocate for his cause.
And now, after Major League Baseball on Monday hit Rodriguez with the longest off-field suspension since Pete Rose, 211 games?
“You’re mad, but you kind of feel like when one of your kids disappoints you,” Hooton says. “You don’t get mad at ’em and hate ’em and throw chairs at ’em. You’re disappointed.”
Love the user, hate the drug.
Hate that A-Rod and baseball’s dirty dozen become the newest faces of the PED era instead of the real victims.
“As Americans, we’ve gotten so focused on 13 professional athletes — 13 — we’ve lost sight of the 1.5 to 2 million children, from sixth grade through 12th grade, that are using this stuff,” Hooton says. “Wake up! We’re focused in the wrong place.”
The Taylor Hooton Foundation cut ties with A-Rod on Monday, more than four years after Don stood next to Rodriguez in Tampa in 2009 at the first news conference he admitted using performance-enhancing drugs and pledged not to use again.
When I brought up the analogy of the alcoholic uncle who says he stopped drinking and was going to his AA meetings, but instead had a relapse and had to be kept away from the kids and family until he got clean again, Hooton agreed.
“Exactly,” he said. “These drugs, these steroids, they’re addictive. I have no idea physically if that’s the case — I’ve never seen medical proof — but psychologically they’re definitely addictive.
“After Taylor killed himself, I spoke to one of his 16-year-old friends, who said, ‘Mr. Hooton, from a kid’s perspective, once you’ve used this stuff, you’re all beefed up and cut. You’ve moved into a new class of girl. Your social group has changed. You’ve made the starting lineup on your athletic team, and even with the steroids you had to work hard to get here. You got all that and you think, how can I ever make the decision to go back to where I was?”