Measure the stark contrast between the news Thursday concerning Kobe Bryant and Drew Bledsoe.

If you, as do so many of us, are sick and tired of listening to multi-millionaire sports figures deny their responsibilities to the society that idolizes them, the two stories Thursday were sad indeed.

Kobe Bryant may well be the best basketball player in world today, but his news was troubling. While rape charges against him were dropped, he remains the object of scorn for his behavior.

His celebrity has turned into notoriety. He is not and he never will be a role model for people who believe in commitment, monogamy or respect.

Drew Bledsoe is among the elite football players in this country. The Walla Walla High School graduate has known celebrity and has conducted his life in recognition of his role.

America has always worshiped its sports heroes, and that has built a rich tradition of excellence. It has added to the quality of life of generations .

Boys and girls of all ages can still recite the lineups of their favorite teams. They've agonized over bowl losses and whooped and hollered over big wins in the best spirit of sports.

Basketball players in the driveway, dreaming of making both ends of a one-and-one with zero time left, or golfers sinking a three-foot putt to win the U.S. Open of their mind are sports cliches that live on and drive young Kobes and young Drews to develop their skills.

But instead of inspiring us with their dedication to practice, discipline and sportsmanship, the Kobe Bryants reflect the dark underbelly of their professions.

Meanwhile, the Drew Bledsoes, aware of the rewards their communities have heaped on them in return for tight spirals thrown with pinpoint accuracy, give back by urging youngsters to follow their example of living with respect for themselves and all around them.

We need more Drew Bledsoes and we should honor them. We have more than enough Kobe Bryants and we would do well if we never heard of him again.

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