The character from the movie "Network" who leaned out the window shaking his fist in anger and yelling, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore," will be in New Orleans this week for the Super Bowl.
At least figuratively.
The image and message will be very similar to one that will come from a large and prestigious group of sports figures from the past and present. They will stand up in public and say they are angry and embarrassed by the current state of sports and the current behavior of many in sports. And they will make a public declaration seeking change.
This will all happen Wednesday afternoon in a hotel in New Orleans, host city for this year's Super Bowl. At that time, a group of athletes, mostly former players who have signed this declaration, will be on hand as Michael Josephson, president of the Josephson Institute of Ethics in Marina del Rey, presents the statement and officially kicks off the group's campaign.
The words will be interesting, slightly predictable. The stance will put in writing, and before the public, what much of the public has been feeling for many years: that athletes, especially the high-profile professionals, are losing sight of the responsibility they have as role models to younger people and as ambassadors to character building.
More interesting, perhaps, is why this all happened, and why now.
"One thing I do not want people to think is that this comes from the recent Michael Irvin thing," said Josephson, noting that Irvin was never charged in the incident in Dallas and that the accusing woman later recanted her story.
"This is a day and age of Roberto Alomar and [Dennis] Rodman and Leon Lett and Rodman and Art Modell and Rodman," Josephson said. "The things that were flying around in Dallas, with all the accusations and disruptions to that team, only brought it to a head."
Josephson, who sold his legal publishing business in 1987, lives on the profits from that and works at his ethics institute without salary, said the driving force for the New Orleans Declaration of Character was former Raider George Atkinson.
"George is a member of something called the Character Counts Coalition, something that has been in existence since 1983," Josephson said. "He called in early January and said we have to do something, we have to put together a statement, and get lots of athletes to sign."
They got more than 100 signatories, with many more likely to add their names before the official statement is made Wednesday. Among the signers are Kermit Alexander, Dick Bass, Roger Craig, Anthony Davis, Kenny Easley, Vince Ferragamo, Bruce Gossett, Bob Griese, Curt Marsh, Ron Mix, Earl Morrall, Jim Otto, Roger Staubach, Curt Warner, Gary Barnett, Frank Broyles, Tom Flores, Frank Kush, John MacLeod, Stan Morrison, Joe Paterno, Jackie Sherrill, Sam Jones and Madeline Manning Mims.
"This all comes," Josephson said, "from a sense on the part of these former athletes, many of them Hall of Famers, that they don't like what the current athletes are doing and they don't like being painted with the same brush by the public."
Josephson said the declaration, and the formation of this group, resulted from many hours of discussion with many of the signers.
"We saw, as sort of a cumulative effect of all the negative events involving current athletes," Josephson said, "that the public now seems to be judging athletes the same way it judges politicians.
"The kinds of stories that keep coming forth reduce our urge to think of sports as a place where character is built."
Josephson said the group is not pretending to tell athletes what to do, but rather to urge them to see the error of their ways. He said the attempt is to get people in sports, especially those in the front office, to start asking basic questions about what message is being sent.
"That's why we talk about people like Art Modell," Josephson said. "His actions weren't criminal, but what message did he send to the people of Cleveland when he moved the Browns? That this is all about money, and not one bit about loyalty or responsibility to a community."
He said that the actions of 100 or so who make a living in sports and who ignore their corresponding responsibility is skewing our country's perception of something that is done by billions of people just for fun. And he said that creates an atmosphere of negativity and skepticism about sports that threatens its core purpose.
"It's sad," Josephson said, "and it is kind of like the old Lily Tomlin comedy routine, where she says, 'No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.' "