Darryl Strawberry dropped by CBS Sports Radio on Wednesday to discuss his new book, Don’t Give Up On Me: Shedding Light on Addiction with Darryl Strawberry, but he also weighed in on numerous sports topics, including player protests.
Strawberry, 55, believes that professional athletes have a right to think and say whatever they want, but protesting may cross the line.
“You can express yourself, but I don’t want to be political,” Strawberry said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I’m an athlete. I’m in the midst of my career. I only have a certain period of time to play and I have to make the best out of that. Now when you take off the uniform, you become a different person. I think when you have a uniform on, you have a responsibility to represent who you’re playing for and your family and all these things. Do we all do it well that way? No. I wish I could have been a Derek Jeter. I wish I could have lived like him and been a king and lived the right way and had the right kind of lifestyle and played for 20 years putting on the uniform and said all the right things. But that just wasn’t me. So I’m not criticizing anyone.
“I’m thinking for the players,” Strawberry continued, “because what I’m seeing in today’s society, there’s a great punishment behind you trying to make a statement. Then you get the bad rap because you’re trying to stand up for something. We all are human. None of us are better than anybody. We all got issues. We all have fallen short. So we can’t sit here and just say ‘Well, it’s their problem.’ You know what, America? It’s all of our problem – and we need to learn to come together. Like I said, I’m not against what these guys are standing for, but I know as far as them being on a professional level playing sports, I think it’s very difficult to be someone to do that because you’re going to be labeled.”
At the same time, Strawberry doesn’t think fans should get angry at players for voicing their opinions.
“I don’t think fans should get into it about a player, what his rights are and what his opinions are,” Strawberry said. “The only thing I really think about as players is not being a politician, not dealing with that. I think you need to stay away from that because that’s now who you are. You wasn’t created for that. (We) have enough problems on (our) own trying to figure out our jobs and our life and who we are. I would leave it that way. But you have a right an opinion to talk about it. There’s nothing wrong with talking about it. But if you start getting into a place where you start protesting, people will start pointing fingers at you.”
Switching gears, Strawberry discussed his relationship with former teammate Dwight Gooden. The two were teammates with the Mets in the ’80s and the Yankees in the ’90s and have had their ups and downs over the years.
“It’s like brothers,” Strawberry said. “The thing about it is when you care about somebody – because everybody else is going to blows smoke up your butt. When you truly care abut somebody and you know that they’re struggling and whatever it may be, you try to reach out. You try to help. Then when they deny you, you feel bad. You feel hurt inside. I know from my heart that I love and care (about him). I’m not trying gain anything. Everybody was thinking I’m trying to gain something from this. I’m not trying to gain anything from this. This guy, I know. I played behind this guy. I know this guy. I know what this guy is like. To be in that situation, it was pretty frustrating to me and other people. We kind of put that to the side and we kind of came back together as we always do and hug and make up and then just move forward.
“He knows that I really care for him,” Strawberry continued. “He knows that deep down inside, and that’s all that’s really what’s important to me is that you know that I care for you. I’m not going to be one of these guys (who talks behind his back). We have a lot of that in sports, too. A lot of guys are two-faced. They’ll be in your face one minute. ‘Oh, man, you the greatest.’ And then they’ll be behind your back over there talking about you to somebody else.”