Chicago's Comeback Kids

I don’t want Derrick Rose to return to play for Chicago. I was as smitten with Rose when he was the hometown hero, and believed in him when his injuries sidelined him and many fans soured on him. Then there was a civil lawsuit against him for gang raping an ex-girlfriend. A jury found him not guilty, but I found the woman’s story believable and disturbing. Rose has been playing better of late, and there’s talk in some corners of the sports fandom in Chicago that the Bulls could do worse than sign him. A redemption narrative waiting to write itself, ready to fly as high as his performance on the court could take him.

Addison Russell had his post-suspension debut a few nights ago, to boos at Wrigley Field. I threw away the shirt I’d bought with his name across the back, it was now as linked to his history of domestic abuse as his defense. The allegations against Patrick Kane a few years ago disappeared as quickly as they popped up. The detail of the survivor’s tampered rape kit showing up on her mother’s doorstep is hard to forget. When they winning Stanley Cups, that story kept me from feeling much joy or hometown pride from their accomplishments.

If Russell is truly remorseful, I don’t see why he shouldn’t be allowed to continue to make a living playing baseball. Those who face punishment and acknowledge their transgressions should be allowed back into the tribe. To shun all would place even greater pressure to hide and deny abuse. But to look outside Chicago for a moment, the continued relevance and acceptance of figures like Kobe Bryant and Ben Roethlisberger show that with enough on-field success, the denial of the humanity of women can be reduced to “adversity.”