Opinion: On Adi

My grandfather was an alcoholic. He never missed a day of work. He never drank a drop of liquor and then drove a vehicle. He would drive for four hours to come visit, and when he walked into the house, his hands were shaking. The first thing he’d do was mix a drink and get himself steady. He was chemically dependent but functional in society.

I had a step-father who was an alcoholic. He struggled with work. For years, he oscillated between ultra-upbeat and ready to take on any challenge, to depressed, to angry and abusive. One day, during a depressed phase, he took his own life.

A good friend of mine is an alcoholic. She held down a steady job for decades. She denied that she had a problem. She liked to drink and party, but she could stop. She fooled herself and she fooled her friends, me included. But the lies slowly caught up, and her personality got more and more bi-polar. Eventually, she hit rock bottom, got an OVI and lost her job. She entered rehab and has been sober for a couple of years now.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on alcoholism, but I’ve been around it. This much I know. It’s messy. It’s ugly, and it’s incredibly hard to beat. It also comes in many forms and isn’t always obvious. Alcoholics aren’t dirty people lying in gutters and drinking out of paper bags. Alcoholics are your co-worker, your friend, your family member.

I also know that alcoholics who learn to live with their disease have to do three key things. First, they have to admit to themselves that they have a problem. Second, they have to accept responsibility for their actions. Third, they have to ask for forgiveness.

Just like someone with the Flu may find themselves sneezing uncontrollably, we expect them to turn away and cover their mouths. Sneezing in someone’s face and saying, “sorry, I’ve got the Flu” doesn’t do it. Someone who is suffering from alcoholism is also expected to take responsibility. They aren’t excused and allowed to operate a vehicle in an unsafe manner, and if they would be involved in an accident, they are responsibility for the damages or worse, a severe injury or death.

I don’t pretend to know Adi. I don’t know whether he has an alcoholism problem. I do know that his alcohol level was high enough that it indicated he had had at least a half dozen drinks and potentially more depending on how long he was consuming. He didn’t have a glass of wine with dinner and get into a car and drive home. He was drinking way beyond what any professional athlete who is taking care of his body should ever consume.

His reckless behavior endangered everyone on the road that evening. Thank God, no one got hurt. His speed demonstrated poor judgement and a lack of clear thought.

Let’s be honest for a minute, though. Don’t drink and drive is a great concept, but people do it all the time. They go out to dinner and have a drink with their meal and then drive home. I know everyone reading this always calls an Uber or assigns a designated driver. It’s those other guys I’m talking about. But those guys, are also aware that they are taking a risk legally at a minimum. They aren’t going to drag race, and if their license had expired or wasn’t valid, they’re going to be even more careful.

Adi was lacking any common sense because this went way beyond a little drink. This was substance abuse and potentially more.

So, what now? Adi has embarrassed himself. He has embarrassed Cincinnati. He has embarrassed his club and its fans. He is responsible for operating a vehicle illegally and recklessly. He is responsible for alienating himself from the club, his teammates and many of the Orange and Blue supporters.

Many fans are calling for the club to release him. Cynical fans are saying that he isn’t producing on the pitch and that if he was scoring lots of goals people would probably take a different tone. And of course, some just view this as an excuse to get rid of a player they thought wasn’t giving a significant return on his investment.

Right now, though, it’s time for Adi to focus on himself. To tune out all of the noise on social media. He’s in a rehab program required by the league. I don’t know details on that program, but my hope is that it is fully immersive and a life changing experience for Adi. I’ve seen first hand what a good program can do, changing the trajectory of a person’s life.

I believe in taking responsibility and accepting consequences, but I also believe in redemption and second chances. I am not without faults and will not be one to cast a stone.

My thoughts are with Adi during this challenging time. I hope he learns and grows and comes back humbled and more mature. If he takes this opportunity to reflect and to change, this could be a turning point for him. He has an uphill battle to fight to win back the hearts of fans and teammates but nothing worth fighting for is ever simple. I hope he accepts this challenge.

OpinionBill Wolf