TORONTO (Jan. 6) — In my eyes — and I’m far from alone — he is the greatest hockey player of all time. He is also a wonderful, charitable person that has always treated me first class.
But, Bobby Orr’s silence over today’s revolt in Washington is deafening.
More than 42 years after he last skated in the National Hockey League, Orr is still among the most–recognizable sports figures on the planet. No professional athlete in Boston’s history — Ted Williams and Larry Bird, included — is so revered. As such, when he came out in support of Donald Trump before the Nov. 3 general election in the United States, suggesting the incumbent president was the type of teammate he would cherish, it made international news. Though he was excoriated as never before in his public life, I maintain it was entirely within Orr’s right to endorse any political candidate. He had to know, however, that advocating Trump would engender a polarized response, as it quickly did. I choose to believe that Bobby never would have imagined the scope of mayhem that unfolded this afternoon. Neither can I comprehend that he approves of the rioters that, so astoundingly, forced their way into the U.S. Capitol. So, why hasn’t this long–admired athlete quickly, and pointedly, expressed revulsion over today’s national disgrace?
He is sharp enough to know there’s a line between condemning the despotic activity in Washington and denouncing his support for the outgoing president. One doesn’t have to dovetail with the other. But, to say nothing? To watch and be silent after one of the most abominable displays in modern American history?
That’s not the Bobby Orr that I marveled at during his decade–long career in the NHL, or the man that has been so friendly and cooperative with me — during and after my career as a hockey reporter at The FAN–590. I think it’s imperative that Orr make some form of statement, either as a release through his company or via social media. For the sake of his legacy, which, fairly or not, took a major hit when he endorsed Trump, Bobby needs to set the record straight. To vehemently rebuke what happened earlier today, which undoubtedly sprang from Trump’s post–election comportment. Orr doesn’t have to wait for a member of the media to request such comment, though I’m certain he’s been inundated. I believe he has the character and common sense to act on his own. To explicitly denounce any correlation between the support for a political leader and the the terrorist–like activity that occurred today on the Hill. He’s got to speak up.
Some in the media have referred to Orr as a disgrace for his affirmation of Trump. I disagree. As mentioned, it is Bobby’s democratic right under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution to speak freely. I also believe it’s his responsibility as a revered public figure to ensure that we know he understands the difference between a peaceful protest and a violent coup attempt. To this point of a Wednesday that none of us will ever forget (7 p.m. Eastern), there’s been only crickets from the Hall–of–Fame defenseman.
As a lifelong fan, I consider that beyond disappointing.
This is not an indictment of Bobby Orr.
It’s an appeal to him.