Friday, February 17, 2012

Talent doesn't make you bulletproof

This week we've seen a talent barometer, losing two incredibly talented people. Whitney Houston and baseball Hall of Famer Gary Carter.

Both were blessed with immense talent. One threw hers away, the other got every ounce out of his.

I never met Houston. I did meet Gary Carter a few years ago, and he couldn't have been nicer or more patient with this Mets fan. He shook my hand, posed for a picture. At one point I said, "I'm sure you get tired of talking about Game Six," hoping he'd tell a story of that classic World Series game in 1986. "I never get tired of that story," he said.

Most people know that game as the Mookie Wilson - Billy Buckner game, but it was Gary Carter who got the rally going with a two-strike single. He simply refused to give up.

Back to wasted talent. The Mets had two other Hall of Famers on that team, Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. Well, they would have been in the Hall had they not thrown their talent away with booze and drugs. Both ended up in jail instead of Cooperstown.

The television news business isn't immune to the bulletproof talent syndrome. We've read many stories of people who had the world by the tail and thrown it all away. In my case I've seen a bunch of people do it to themselves.

I used to work with one reporter who would knock out great packages one day, show up glassy-eyed and slurring his words the next. Finally he went to rehab after admitting he was addicted to crack.

I worked with another very talented young lady who got busted on a drug charge. The ND hated to let her go, but knew she no longer had any credibility with the public. Her career, which was about to take off, crashed.

We often see tales of local news people on the police blotter for drunk driving and other offenses. Some manage to hold onto their jobs, but their careers are forever tainted.

Some of you are supremely talented, with gifts that go off the charts. And inevitably, some of those people will throw it all away, thinking the rules of life don't apply.

God gives many of us gifts of talent along with free will. Ironically, it is often the latter that determines our level of success.


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