Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Worth Another Choice

The decision by the non-profit Worth the Wait to bring former Dallas Cowboys Hall of Famer Michael Irvin as a keynote speaker for its major fundraiser in April is looking a lot worse over the last few days.

It was rather risky anyway considering Irvin's checkered past. Worth the Wait is an organization that advocates abstinence education for teens to combat premarital sex and pregnancy.

Then along comes a civil suit last Thursday by a Florida woman who claims she was raped in Hollywood, Fla., by Irvin in 2007. No criminal charges were filed in the matter.

Irvin, 43, has responded with a $100 million countersuit, which is the way you would think someone might respond if he's not guilty -- or has nothing to lose. It was also announced Irvin was fired from his job last week with ESPN radio in Dallas. That decision does not connected to the woman's claim.

Is this woman just looking for money or does she have a legitimate allegation? Who yet knows?

But how can Worth the Wait even take a chance while this hangs in the air with a rancid smell? Chances are good this won't be cleared by April 8, and certainly won't be cleared as the organization seeks to sell tables for the event.

Irvin is certainly innocent until proven guilty by society, but this is different. WTW needs to wash its hands off this controversy quickly or it will blow up in its face. This isn't Emmitt Smith, who was brought in a few years ago for a similar function.

Irvin had the potential to be a compelling speaker. His Hall of Fame speech two years ago was amost a mea culpa of the things he had done wrong in his life and was now attempting to correct. You couldn't help but feel he was sincere. Either that, or one of the greatest actors of our time.

Irvin most famously was arrested in 1996 on a charge of cocaine possession. He has admitted to multiple trysts while married. Irvin's testimony and his speaking talents could be good, but not until the latest mess is cleared up.

This has the same potential for PR disaster as the YMCA's poor decision to bring all-time hit king Pete Rose, also serving a lifetime ban for betting on baseball, to headline its YMCA All-Star Sports Festival in 2003.

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