Although Ben Franklin had probably been considering industrious colonial farmers when he recommended going to bed early only to wake up before the rooster crowed would make one "healthy, wealthy, and wise," his words still resonate today and appear an apt suggestion to the modern professional athlete. Far too often we hear of players in various sporting disciplines caught in the wrong place at the wrong time with headline stories that invariably begin, "Last night, outside a local night club..." Houston Dynamo now have that type of issue to sort out now with the matter of Tyler Deric and Warren Creavalle having recently been arrested and charged following an incident at the Roosevelt Lounge. While the story continues to unfold, layered with an element of possible racism on the part of a business known to have practiced such policies before, what likely concerns Dominic Kinnear and Dynamo's front office is why these players placed themselves in such a situation when issues of health, wealth, and wisdom should be utmost on their minds.
The Naranja had just previously concluded a preseason friendly against Houston Baptist University on the Saturday the incident occurred, with both Deric and Creavalle playing large parts in a successful display. Certainly, the players had cause to be pleased with their performances, with this likely giving justification for a night out on the town. This rationale, however, would have better left unused--particularly considering what later transpired--when considering Houston Dynamo are already in preseason training. While we do not expect young players in the early 20s to lead a monastic life of soccer, we should be able to assume that, when organized team training gets underway, they are dedicated enough to that at this time of the year to resist the temptation from the freaks that come out at night.
First time for a Whodini reference on these pages maybe?
Further, as the team was preparing to leave for additional training in California, this seems to have been the wrong time to be entertaining late party nights. Instead, rest, recovery, and preparation for the next stage of preseason games against other Major League Soccer clubs looks to have been the primary thoughts for Deric and Creavalle.
Beyond the physical aspect of health, though, is the professional health for these players. Granted, Deric is currently the second-choice keeper for Houston Dynamo, but why would he not be thinking about steps he could take to push Tally Hall and give Dom Kinnear something more difficult to ponder when deciding who he prefers in the #1 shirt? Goalkeeper is the thinnest position on the pitch for Houston at the moment, and Deric could be using this opportunity more wisely to provide Hall with a sterner challenge by putting in more work on his game than what he allegedly did against an off-duty police officer.
As for Creavalle, the midfielder drafted in this year's 2nd round of the SuperDraft must be seen applying himself as much as possible to reaffirm why Kinnear selected him. Considering the club had acquired Nathan Sturgis for a bit of midfield depth just before drafting the player with the best high top fade in years, we would imagine the former Central Florida talent would be doing anything and everything to impress so as to be in Kinnear's mind as one of the first subs off this season's bench. His professional career has just begun and he would have been better served seeing his name appear more so for good preseason performances rather than the one holding a camera phone outside a Houston night club around midnight on a Saturday.
This is rather straight forward, right? As a general rule, backup keepers in this league are not among the millionaires existing within the US sports landscape, and Deric's reported base salary from 2011 confirms this to be the case. For comparison sake, the individual now alleging assault at the hands of Deric could be making a similar salary if he earns more than the minimum salary in addition to pay received from patrolling this particular night club. While unsure of what Creavalle's salary could be (as he's still defined as a "trialist"), it likely cannot be assumed paychecks for a 2nd round draft pick are guaranteed from Houston if he doesn't show sufficient promise. Perusing the last few SuperDrafts show the last player of note selected after the 1st round that the Naranja retained for any length of time was Danny Cruz. This suggests that Warren would do well playing it safe so early in his young professional career by calling it an early night on Saturdays counting any Benjamins that are coming his way before they are well spent.
Should something happen where either the players and the club have to resolve this matter through some sort of nuisance settlement, wallets could be pinched. The ongoing saga of WPS provides a grim reminder of how lawsuits can put a spanner in the works for a league whose pockets are not yet so deep as those found in the NFL and MLB. Now, monetary damages from an incident such as this would not be as potentially catastrophic as what WPS is undertaking, but at the bare minimum it would eat into some of the spending money Deric or Creavalle have should personal fines be assessed to either player and it would possibly be some marginal expense to a club already tight on their budget.
If the club has some sort of liability policy that covers them for these types of exposures, expect Chris Canetti to be receiving a phone call soon about a premium increase and expect him to groan a bit after ending the call.
Put it all together, and naturally both players would have been considerably wiser playing Words With Friends from the comfort of their homes. There are enough stories before them of athletes discovered in compromising situations to not be aware--even in their youth--of the risks inherent in a late night out on the town. Both should have recalled they are no longer just a couple of young guys looking for a good time but representatives of a professional club and league expecting all their players to take things a bit more seriously so close to the start of a new campaign. Professional athletes, if known, are vulnerable targets in circumstances such as these, and surely when Kinnear first heard what happened to Deric and Creavalle he probably wondered, "What on earth were they doing there in the first place?"
Also, if what Deric's attorney claims did transpire--that the altercation began over his client's refusal to accept the club's policy of denying entry to persons of color--why wasn't the player thoughtful enough to just let it go and seek justice via alternate means? Certainly ignoring it would not be advocated. Instead, realizing the position both Deric and his friends occupy, that they could have let the matter drop at the time without further harm to themselves but later use their ability to speak directly to local media about the potentially racist (and illegal) practices of that particular establishment, they might in the end have been more effective. Unfortunately, scenarios such as what Deric and Creavalle allegedly found themselves in that Saturday evening happen repeatedly across the US but with a key difference here being it happened to individuals that Houston media outlets would have provided a voice to announce.
In the current matter, it could be seen simply as a defense for otherwise unseemly behavior on the part of Deric and Creavalle, an argument that the "devil made me do it" which could align as many detractors as supporters to their side of the story. So, the lesson (once again) for the rest of those young MLS players looking to blow off some steam after a good preseason game? Heed the words of old Postmaster Franklin. Get thee to bed so you can dream about scoring goals or making fabulous saves when the matches start counting for points.