Remember that old kid in black-and-white who uttered the famous phrase, “Say it ain’t so, Joe”?
Well, that little pipsqueak ain’t got nothing in the era of hyper-sophisticated blood doping and rampant steroid use across all sports. We now live in an age where heroes that have fallen so far, and so quickly, that simply a small reaction of disbelief does not feel like nearly enough. Yet here we sit, jaws dropped, stone-cold speechless, totally aghast.
At the very least, that kid’s famous line could easily fit into a tweet, where fans and haters alike have taken it upon themselves to virtually lash out at a man once revered in this country in a way never before seen in sports or in popular culture.
Never before had an athlete come so far. Never before had a man, with testicular cancer that had menacingly crawled up from his groin and into his lungs, done the things that Lance Armstrong did on a bike.
For that matter, no one had ever used a bike to do the things that Lance Armstrong managed to do off of it.
The man won seven — seven — Tour de France titles. That’s like watching a French guy pop over to Coney Island once a year and eat 70 hot dogs every Fourth of July for seven straight years.
It’s impossible. It simply does not happen.
But it did.
Lance Armstrong made it happen, and in the process he not only captured more than a half-dozen yellow jerseys, but he captured the hearts of the nation. He earned sponsorships, he played himself in movies (Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive and Dodge, anyone?) and he created a cultural phenomenon with his Livestrong bracelets.
He raised more than half of a billion dollars for his Livestrong Foundation to help fund research to find a cure for cancer, in all of its insidious forms.
All of this is what made Monday afternoon so difficult, so life-shattering to the 100 people Armstrong addressed at the Livestrong headquarters.
When he apologized for doping, and for embarrassing and tarnishing the good name and the great works Livestrong is doing and is capable of.
After his speech, there were no words, no questions. There were no “Say it ain’t so” moments.
But there were tears.
Apparently, someone with knowledge of the situation stated that several Livestrong employees broke down in tears following Armstrong’s emotional speech. There are reports of the man himself, the Tour de France Champion, the marathon runner, the survivor of that ultimate demon of cancer, choking up as he spoke his words.
One hopes, after all of this, after all the wins and all the allegations, all the denials and accusations; after all the interviews and investigations and in-depth reports, that Armstrong found a moment of peace alone.
Because there are no words for what he has done. There are no words for this historic fall from grace.
There is nothing to say about Lance Armstrong, except that he let the entire country down, and for that, no one has any questions to ask, but they all have plenty of tears to release.