I wonder if the National Football Commissioner Roger Goodell knows the information I'm about to tell you. If not, may I be the one to clue him in to the shocking criminal background of a guy named Gary who is prominently featured at NFL games ... including this year's Super Bowl?
Around 1980, when Gary was in his mid-30s he was charged with having sex with an underage 14-year-old girl named Allison. He was acquitted.
For the entire decade of the '80s, Gary was considered to be such a dangerous and chronic drunk driver that authorities banned him from getting behind the wheel for 10 years. In 1999, Gary was sentenced to prison following a scandalous child pornography investigation during which police found that he had downloaded at least 4,000 sexually explicit images of children, some as young as 2 and 3 years old.
Once he was released from prison, Gary left his home country of Britain, travelled through Spain and eventually settled in Cambodia. Exactly what happened there is unclear, but trouble followed. In 2002, after Gary was investigated for sexual offenses against young boys, he was deported by Cambodian officials. Gary wound up living in Vietnam, and in 2006 he went to prison again after being convicted for molesting two girls, ages 11 and 12. Gary was allowed to return to Britain in 2008 only after he agreed to join the United Kingdom's sex offenders' registry so police could keep track of him.
This is not a guy you'd want your children to emulate or celebrate, right?
Then tell me, please, why the National Football League and other American sports teams continue to funnel money to this man year after year.
Gary's real name is Paul Gadd, but music fans know him as Gary Glitter, the flamboyant '70s rock-n-roller whose anthem-like hit "Rock and Roll Part 2" (also known as "The Hey Song") still guarantees him a windfall of royalties every time it is played. And it is played at American sports games countless times every year. It is not just the NFL that allows "The Hey Song" to punctuate the air every time an athlete scores. In the past, National Hockey League and National Basketball Association teams have also found it to be a must-play at every game. That, in turn, puts money in a convicted pedophile's pocket. It doesn't matter if it is Glitter performing the song or if some other band is doing its version of the tune. As the songwriter, Glitter gets money.
According to the London Daily Mail, Glitter's royalties from just this year's Super Bowl play of "The Hey Song" "puts him in line to make hundreds of thousands of pounds." That's because the New England Patriots adopted the song as its trademark touchdown-celebrating anthem. The Indianapolis Colts (their stadium is this year's venue for the Super Bowl) have also embraced "The Hey Song" as part of its regularly played tunes to pump up the fans.
A few years ago, the NFL banned Glitter's original song because of his sordid past. However, it didn't fade into obscurity as I think it should have. A rendition performed by the band Tube Tops was approved and lives on to this day as the classic musical homage after a team scores.
I don't know about you but this gives me a Super Bowl-sized headache. I mean, really. It's a 40-year-old song, for goodness' sakes. In the four decades since Glitter wrote it, hasn't there been another, equally suitable foot-stomping ditty written that could take its place?
Yes, Gary Glitter, aka Paul Gadd, (whose nickname, by the way, is Rubber Bucket) is a man who has done his time for his crimes. I acknowledge that. But that doesn't mean he should be glorified and rewarded each time an American athlete does well on the field.
In an era of ugly revelations about football coaches and allegations of sexual misconduct with children (think Jerry Sandusky of Penn State and Bernie Fine of Syracuse University), isn't there anyone in professional sports who thinks it is time to find a permanent replacement song? A tune that doesn't raise the specter of a child predator?
It is estimated that 100 million people worldwide will tune in to the Super Bowl this year. Imagine what effect it could have if 100 million people heard a public announcement from the NFL that it has decided to take a bold and sensitive step toward acknowledging the plight of sexually abused children by refusing to play any version of that song any longer. The NFL could follow up with a companion plan for some of their most famous players to mentor these kids.
I challenge top management in all professional sports — from NFL Commissioner Goodell to team owners, managers and coaches everywhere — to think about ways they can help the most vulnerable of their future fans. In doing so, they might also be helping some of their own players who, statistics show us, were likely child victims of predators just like Gary Glitter, too.
Diane Dimond's book, "Cirque Du Salahi — Be Careful Who You Trust," can be ordered at Amazon.com. Visit Diane Dimond's official website at www.dianedimond.com for investigative reporting, polls and more. To find out more about Diane Dimond and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.