We could use some more humble sports heroes

I will never forget my son’s first sack.

He was in fourth grade and playing on the defensive line in a Little Guy Football game one Saturday morning at Copper Mountain Park.

On the play, the offensive line blew its blocking assignment, and Grady was left with a free run at quarterback Chase Choquette.

Choquette, who was quite a bit smaller than Grady, rolled a couple of steps to his right as he surveyed the defense. He had no idea he was about to be hit.

Grady engulfed the quarterback from the blind side. Defensive players young and old dream about making that kind of play.

Somehow, Chase did not fumble the ball, and he jumped right up from the hit.

Grady popped up, flexed his arms at his side, looked up at the sky and screamed, just like he saw so many times when he watched the NFL.

It was reminiscent of Ray Lewis.

On that Saturday morning, I was working the chains with Doug Peoples, whose son Ryan must hold the league’s all-time record for touchdown runs while diving for the pylon.

Doug and I looked at each other as we laughed and shook our heads at Grady’s ridiculous celebration, and Doug said, “They watch too much TV.”

He was right. That is exactly where Grady got that. That is also where his son learned to dive for the pylon.

Good or bad, the young players do pay attention to what the see on television or their video games. Then they emulate what they see when they play.

Unfortunately, they are not watching Walter Payton anymore.

Instead, they get to see guys like Houston Astros shortstop Carols Correa show up his opponents in the baseball playoffs.

Correa hit what proved to be the game-winning home run in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.

Sure, the home run came against my favorite team, but that is not why it bugged me. After the Red Sox sent the Yankees packing, I have watched the baseball playoffs with a great peace, calmness and clarity this year.

I also never expected that team to win the World Series this year, so Correa’s home run was the only time I got mad during the two rounds that the Yankees had to watch the Red Sox play.

Correa’s homer traveled about 340 or 350 feet. It was a home run in that silly ball park in Houston and maybe a few more.

It was an easy out for the left fielder in the rest.

Correa stood in the box as the Bucky Dent floater drifted into the stands. He slammed down his bat like he hit that son of a gun 8,000 feet, tapped his wrist where his pretend watch sat and yelled “it’s my time” to his teammates.

Not “our time.” Correa said “my time.”

If only, I thought, Correa would have to get in the box against pitchers like Bob Gibson, Don Drysdale, Nolan Ryan or Pedro Martinez after doing something like that. If someone acted even remotely like that against one of those legendary pitchers, they had better not dig in the next time.

Their teammates better not dig in, either. You better believe there would be some chin music coming if there was ever any kind of a hint of showing up the opposing pitcher.

Those days, however, are long gone. We are now deeply entrenched in Generation Bat Flip.

So many people are OK with Correa’s actions. So many people really seem to like what he did.

But I don’t want the players on my team doing it. I would never want my kid to act like that.

Maybe I am just stuck in the past. I grew up admiring players like Payton, Barry Sanders and Tony Gwynn, and I long for those days.

Jerry Rice never got up and pointed first down after he caught a pass. He never told the cornerback that he was too good for him to cover. He didn’t have to.

That garbage started with Michael Irvin. Deion Sanders and then Terrell Owens took it to the next level.

For a while, that behavior was mostly limited to receivers and defensive backs.

Now, you see it in quarterbacks and baseball players, and I hate it with the white-hot intensity of a thousand Joe Bucks.

Aaron Rodgers pulled off what has to be the least classy move in the history of quarterbacks two days after Correa’s home run. Rodgers scrambled for a fourth quarter touchdown to give the Packers a 10-point lead over the Bears in Soldier Field.

Rodgers put on the victory belt, which later became the State Farm discount doublecheck, and that was bad enough. Then, the quarterback screamed at the Chicago fans.

“All my (bleeping) life I own you,” Rodgers shouted. “I still own you.”

Again, he said “I.” Not “we.”

The quarterback later said he saw a woman in the stands giving him the double birds, and that is why he said what he said. As if swearing at a woman somehow made it better.

If only, I thought, Rodgers had to play one game against Dick Butkus after saying such a thing. Or Jack Lambert. Or Ray Nitschke.

He would get his block knocked off.

Packers fans will say I am a crybaby Bears fan, and they are probably right. But they know what Rodgers did was wrong, even if only some will admit it.

So many fans laughed at Rodgers’ taunting of Bears fans. They offered the usual defense for classlessness: “If you don’t want him to do that, then don’t let him score a touchdown.”

They also said things like, “It isn’t bragging if it is true.”

No, bragging is bragging, and self-respecting people do not let the failure of others turn them into jerks.

Believe it or not, you can be humble without being humbled.

That lack of sportsmanship seeps down through the college and high school ranks all the way to the middle school and grade school players.

It only seems to get worse every year, too.

Three nights after the Correa home run, though, we might have got a glimpse that there is hope after a weekend when all sportsmanship seemed to be lost.

Boston pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez pitched well in Game 3 of the ALCS. As he got Correa to ground out for his last out, E-Rod looked at Correa and tapped on his wrist, mocking the Astro.

Boston manager Alex Cora immediately started screaming at the pitcher to knock it off.

The next inning, FOX showed the exchange between the player and the manager, and the unbearably annoying announcing team of Buck and John Smoltz explained what the manager said.

It was clear that the pitcher was getting a talking to about class.

“We don’t act that way,” Cora said later.

Sure, Cora will conspire to steal your signs, but he will not stand for his players taunting you. No manager should stand for that. No fan should either.

At the next commercial break, I went to my son’s room to tell him how Cora just handled an action by his pitcher that was equally bush league to Correa’s, even if it was in direct response to it.

Before I could tell him, though, Grady interrupted me. Then he told me exactly what I had opened the door to tell him.

I closed the door and smiled.

That was one time I was really happy that my son was paying attention to what he saw on TV.

— Bill Foley, who has no problem taunting Yankees fans, writes a column that appears Tuesdays on ButteSports.com. Email him at foley@buttesports.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74.