blame shifting

There are few common cliches that ring more true than the phrase, “everybody makes mistakes.” We humans are imperfect beings, and our propensity to make mistakes undeniably written into our genetic code. While we can come close to perfection, everyone has their own fatal flaw or skeleton in their closet that helps to level the playing field.

davies name has come up in the press a lot lately... but not necessarily for the right reasons.

Most times the mistakes aren’t so consequential. Like when Ashely Cole remarkably escaped punishment after shooting a Chelsea staffer with an air pistol. But occasionally, the consequences can be severe, life and history altering. Maybe if it weren’t for a ill-chosen headbutt, France could have won back-to-back World Cup titles, and we might be discussing how Messi/Ronaldo could be competing with Zidane for the title of the greatest players of the last decade.

But regardless of how dire the consequences of our mistakes might be, the one lesson that is certain in life is that you will have to live with those consequences… there’s really no escaping it.

Unless your Charlie Davies… or so he apparently thinks.

I’ve been rooting for Charlie openly on the blog for some time now. Like many American fans, I originally fell for him due to his meteoric rise from relative obscurity to national team stardom prior to the 2010 World Cup. A string of impressive performances had us all believing the hype that the in Davies and Altidore, the USMNT finally had a strike partnership that could give world-class sides a run for their money. We liked his charisma, his big marketable smile, his stanky-leg dance… he had us all dreaming big.

d.c. united's charlie davies
how could you not dig a guy who played with a smile on his face like this?

And even though we all knew that he had nobody but himself to blame for horrific his injuries from a deadly, late-night car crash in DC the night before the last WC Qualifier, we all stuck behind Davies because of his perceived humbleness and determined spirit during his long road to recovery. We cheered him on during his ill-fated attempt to recover in time for the finals in South Africa, even though we all knew deep down there was no way he could recover from such devastating injuries so quickly. We all wanted to believe in him, because he seemed like he was atonement for his sins.

So when Souchaux loaned Chuck to D.C. United this season to help him find his feet again, and he caught fire with a load of goals early on in the campaign, our hopes ballooned again. Currently, he has the lowest goals/minute ratio in MLS and is only four goals off league leader (and teammate) Dwayne De Rosario’s 15. Becaues of this, we allowed ourselves to whisper “Charlie’s Back!”  to one another, secretly plotting how Bradley/Klinsmann could now get him back into the national team fold.

But then the goals dried up (he hasn’t scored in over a month), and his minutes have diminished. After the midseason arrival of De Rosario from Red Bull, and with his return to Souchaux looming in February, United manager Ben Olsen has opted to leave Charlie on the bench for more “permanent” options. And with those downturns in fortunes, we’ve gotten to see a side of Davies we’ve never seen before: the ugly side.

Davies first lashed out at his lack of playing time last week, his attitude thinly veiled:

I can only do so much with the time that I have. I’m a guy that expects to play 90 minutes. I’m fit. I’m healthy, and it’s disappointing when you want to get the playing time to help the team win, and you only get 20, 15 minutes. I’ve done all I can do.

I can understand his frustrations at not playing, especially because the lack of playing time will likely affect his chances at first team action upon returning to France. That said, it seemed so out of character for a guy that we had all admiringly watched battle through diversity before.

But then he really dropped a bombshell this week, when it was revealed that Davies was suing the bar where he had broken curfew the night of his awful accident three years ago for $20 million. That’s twenty, with six more zeros after that. And why was he suing them for such a princely sum? Because Davies and his lawyers believe that the Shadow Room continued to serve alcohol to his driver that night, Maria Espinoza, even though they “knew” she was drunk.

And since he’s asking for such a large chunk of change for the bar causing the accident, you have to assume that he’s doing so because he believes the injuries he sustained in the accident have hurt his future earning potential.

In more simple terms, it appears the Charlie Davies — the guy we used to think was humbled by this entire experience — is blaming that bar for ruining his career.

Which is weird, because I don’t think the bar told him to stay out past curfew to drink at a bar with some of his friends. And I’m pretty sure the bar didn’t order him to get in the car with the what-must-be-clearly drunken Espinoza that night either. What’s even more weird is that Davies own lawyers says that the player didn’t even hang out with Maria that night, so he didn’t know she was drunk… even though that little factoid is the sole basis of the argument his legal team is making.

With that kind of logic, you have to wonder who they’ll be suing next. Maybe Espinoza, who is already serving a two year jail sentence for involuntary vehicular manslaughter, for not telling him that she was drunk that night? Maybe he’ll go after Bob Bradley for denying him a spot on the World Cup roster due to the Americans with Disabilities Act. Perhaps he’ll sue Ben Olsen for more playing time!

maybe we were the fools for not thinking that davies isn't like everyone else: a man with an ego.

It’s almost ironic that, for a species that is so prone to making errors in judgement, we’re actually laughably bad at accepting blame for those mistakes. You would think we would have learned after all of these generations of repeating the same mistakes over and over that it’s best to just be honest with ourselves, right?

Wrong. We’re vain, egotistical creatures that will never fully accept our blame in the negative consequences of our actions.

We shouldn’t really be surprised though. Afterall, Davies is a product of the American blame-shifting culture. That’s why we have an entire industry of ambulance chasing lawyers, ready to sue the pants out of the local grocer where you slipped and broke your ankle while you were talking on your cellphone and not paying attention to where you were going.

That said, maybe we all need to point the fingers at ourselves a bit too. This caught us all by surprise, and to say the least, it’s shocked a good number of us. Maybe we rushed to judgement on Davies based on his limited time in the spotlight. Maybe we’re at fault for our own shock and dismay.

Naaaaaaahhhhhh… that’s definitely not our fault.

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