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Strikeforce's Consideration of Canseco a Flirtation in Need of an End

First, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said he would not consider signing Jose Canseco. Soon after, reports of a meeting with Canseco surfaced (he denied them). Next, Canseco produced a picture of him at dinner with Coker. Now, Coker's saying Canseco is back in play.

I think we all know where this is going.

While Coker apparently told that he wasn't actively pursuing Canseco, he left the door open to the possibility. The gradual changing of his stance surely means the thought is in his mind. It is one that needs to be flushed with a quickness.

With all due respect to Coker, who has done an excellent job growing his company into a viable national presence, adding Canseco to his organization -- even for one night -- is an idea that shouldn't be entertained.

Canseco had no honor in his own sport; he cheated, had a reputation as a loafer, and then exploited the secrets of his teammates and friends for his own financial gain. He had no noble goals like cleaning up the game, otherwise he would've outed players when he was active, and he would have been clean himself. He was simply out to make a buck at the expense of others.

That's all he's out to do now, too. It's not about competition, or the honor of martial arts for Canseco; it's a quick payday. He's not going to approach this with the professionalism, humility and respect of a Herschel Walker, and he doesn't come from a decorated combat sports background like James Toney.

People will say it's all related. MMA is just a sport, and sports are just entertainment, so what's the harm? The harm is that it's a sport still in its infancy, struggling for respectability and legitimacy. Why give ammunition to the critics with which to shoot us? Why have we been working so hard for sanctioning and regulation when we're willing to put any Johnny-Come-Lately in a high-profile bout? Why give him something when he's not going to give anything back?

You know he's not going to give anything back, right? If Coker hands him an opportunity on a silver platter, Canseco will take every shortcut he can -- as he always has -- use every promotional opportunity to push his own agenda, and vanish as soon as the check clears. He could, after all, barely be bothered to show up to his own book tour dates.

People will say, it's only one spot on a card, so what's the big deal? The big deal is the spot you take away from someone could be an opportunity stolen from a rising star. We're not so smart that we can see every star coming. Just two years ago, most of the MMA world hadn't yet heard of Dan Hardy, yet on March 27, he'll be in the main event of one of the biggest events of the year at UFC 111. Same thing goes for guys like Shane Carwin and Gegard Mousasi, neither of which was fighting for a major promotion as recenty as two years ago, but are both considered marquee fighters now.

MMA is that dynamic a sport; yesterday's star is washed up tomorrow, and the forgotten man can become the center of attraction in a hurry. So why give away one of your valuable TV spots to a guy who has no chance at any long-term success?

This is the part where people bring up Walker, but you're talking apples and oranges. Walker has been a world-class athlete in several different athletic endeavors including football, track and bobsledding. He had prior martial arts experience, a reputation for an insatiable work ethic, and a willingness to put his ego aside to learn. Strikeforce gave him a spotlight, and Walker used it to prop up the organization and the sport. Will Canseco do the same?

Canseco was a juiced-up slugger with a reputation as a spoiled, pampered star. He's a tax deadbeat, an opportunistic leech and has a rap sheet with charges including domestic violence and aggravated battery. This guy is worth sticking your neck out for? This guy is worth a contract and an opportunity?

If Coker wants to know just who he's potentially getting into bed with, he should take a look at this story on Canseco by the writer Pat Jordan, in which he paints a startling picture that you won't soon erase from your memory.

And if all that is not enough, no reason is simpler than this: As a general rule, it's not a great idea to have a national punchline as a feature attraction.

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