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.