As longtime Denver Post readers know, there's good sentimental Woody Paige and there's bad sentimental Woody Paige. The former is epitomized by "Little Sis Model of Courage," a moving December 2006 eulogy for his sister, who had just died of cancer. And "Williams' Grave Needs Our Help," which appeared in the broadsheet on August 19, represents the latter.
The more recent column exploited the Denver Broncos' first trip to Dallas since the New Year's Day murder of cornerback Darrent Williams, who hailed from the area...
Paige visited Williams' grave site, which featured a temporary headstone, and asked cemetery employees if "anyone who looked like a football player or a coach" had visited in the previous five days, when the Broncos were in town. According to Paige, they answered in the negative. In addition, he wrote, "Helen Richardson, a photographer for The Denver Post, spent eight hours at the grave on Friday, and there were no other visitors."
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That sounds like a thankless assignment...
Then, after acknowledging that Broncos ownership had bought eight cemetery plots for the family "at a reported cost of $30,000" and several players were raising funds to launch a teen center in Williams' name, Paige essentially called out the team for not ponying up for spiffy grave decor. "Williams deserved better," he declared before coming up with a pricetag for a suitable tribute: $7,000, which would buy a flat nameplate, a standup tombstone and an etched bench. He pledged $250 toward that amount -- generous! -- and invited readers to send contributions to a fund that he would oversee, with anything beyond the seven grand going to the teen center. Finally, Paige wrote that he had left a bouquet of orange and blue flowers at the grave, so it would have a "Broncos touch."
So... what's wrong with that? Plenty. The Broncos hardly ignored the Williams family during their visit to Dallas, where they were spanked in an exhibition game. Indeed, the Post wrote about meetings with his mother in an August 15 article. Moreover, as a professional football player, Williams doesn't fit the profile of a charity case. In the column, Paige claimed, "There is a financial dilemma. Darrent Williams' house in Colorado is in foreclosure, and a majority of his money, whatever amount that might be, has not been made available to his mother or Tiara Leonard, the mother of his two children." But that sounds like a temporary situation certain to be resolved in the near future, not a permanent circumstance that requires action from the public.
For these reasons, Paige's grandstanding looks like an attention-getting ploy, not a modest act of generosity directed toward people who are legitimately in financial need. He seems as interested in looking like a do-gooder as he does in funding a monument to a wealthy young man who died far too young. -- Michael Roberts