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Monday, August 11, 2014

Did Tony Stewart mean to hit the kid he killed?

The videos that came from the dirt track in upstate New York Saturday night were certainly frightening and alarming.

If you watched the video, you saw a young man climb out of his damaged car, pointing a finger at the driver who appeared to push him into a wall, then horrifically watched this poor young man get caught in the back wheels and get hurtled to his death.

The young man, Kevin Ward, Jr., was just 20 years old. The driver of the other car was legendary NASCAR driver Tony Stewart, one of the most successful and wealthiest people in auto racing. Stewart hit Ward in the middle of a dirt track race and took the young man's life.

The auto racing purists are quickly pointing out that Ward was at fault for getting out of his car in the middle of the race and walking onto the track. And that's a good point. Despite Ward's anger at Stewart for the crash, he should have stayed in the car and waited for help to arrive.

But I've watched the horrific video about 50 times now and to me, it looks as if Stewart intentionally fishtailed the back of his car to sideswipe Ward. There's no way that Stewart could have known that the move would catch Ward with the back wheels and send Ward flying some 50 feet in the air.

However, it certainly looks like Stewart did make an intentional move toward Ward. Sure, it was dark out. Sure, Ward was wearing a black suit and black helmet. The course was very dimly lit.

I just can't get past the way an experienced legend like Stewart couldn't have avoided Ward, because he didn't hit Ward head on. He caught him with the back wheels.

Stewart has had a history of bad behavior, of having a bad temper, of doing stupid things, including getting into fistfights and altercations with other drivers himself. He's thrown helmets, he's had to go to anger management classes. He has even threatened to run over fellow drivers in the past. Those are incidents that play against Stewart.

Who knows for sure? Who knows if Stewart really tried to clip the kid? The only person who knows is Tony Stewart. And he's the one who now has to live with the idea that he killed a 20-year-old fellow driver, regardless of the level, Talladega, Daytona or a dirt track in upstate New York. Kevin Ward was a fellow race car driver. His life is now over.

The way it looks now, Stewart will not face any criminal charges. It more than likely will be deemed an accident. There isn't enough compelling evidence to prove otherwise.

In my eyes, it looks bad. The driver was way wrong for getting out of the car. But in my eyes, it appears as if Stewart could have avoided Ward.

And you can be rest assured that the Ward family will file some sort of civil suit against Stewart. Then it will be up to a jury. Maybe then Stewart will have to answer for what happened, unless he agrees to some sort of a financial settlement.

One thing is for sure: Tony Stewart's days as a commercial spokesman for anything are done. No one will touch him at all from now on.

I personally don't care how poorly Tiger Woods has played since his return to golf from back surgery. He deserves a spot on the Ryder Cup team in next month's competition as an alternate selection by captain Tom Watson.

Because, after all, he's still Tiger Woods. He's still a compelling story every time he steps on the course. Everyone either loves him or hates him. But if there's a spot for Tiger on that United States team and he feels like he's healthy enough to play, he should be on the team.

Woods deserves the spot on reputation and resume. It shouldn't even be a debate. Plus, he will add some drama to the event, especially if he goes head-to-head with Rory McIlroy, who is definitely the new king of golf.

Incredibly, the high school football, college football and NFL regular season are less than a month away. The baseball season is within the last 50 games. The summer is rapidly slipping away. Through the wicked winter months, all we could do is say, "I can't wait for summer." Well, now it's here and it's almost gone. How does time go by so fast now?

ESPN has been policing itself by suspending personalities Stephen A. Smith, Dan LeBetard and Max Kellerman for their actions on and off air.

Smith was suspended for saying that women should not provoke physical violence in the Ray Rice case.

LeBetard was suspended for paying for a billboard in Akron, Ohio thanking LeBron James for the two championships James won with the Miami Heat.

Kellerman was penalized for saying on the radio that he once beat up his girlfriend (now his wife), also talking about Ray Rice.

It's a network and media gargantuan trying to make sure that its employees remain on the straight and narrow. After all, ESPN is part of the parent company that also owns Disney.

Do you think the Disney company wants to be associated with people who make such insidious comments about women? Think about that one.

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