I always smirk at the phrase "like a runaway train," because when have you ever heard or read about such a thing outside of a Denzel Washington movie?
But the Notre Dame program ... well, that metaphor would seem to be appropriate. Nothing can seem to stop this program, and the damage it is doing to lives are barely an irritant to it as it rolls along.
I don't really refer to the Manti Te'o story here. It's gotten more attention than anything else that's happened off the field at Notre Dame.
There are so many reasons why. One, it's just weird. The idea of a purely online relationship, while not nearly the taboo that it used to be, is still kind of foreign to a lot of people. It's unique. There's never been anything like it other than in a plot line to The Contender (sorry for all the movie references). It embarrasses a public figure, and generally people can't get enough of that.
But maybe most of all, other than Te'o's reputation and the reputations or a lot of media members, no one really got hurt here. And those can be rebuilt.
The Te'o story has gotten far more attention than stories that did have actual victims. And those lives can't be rebuilt. Those people actually died. Their lives were lost either partially or entirely due to the negligence and downright evil nature of Notre Dame.
Their names are Declan Sullivan and Lizzy Seeberg. You may vaguely remember them. You might not at all. The fact that they don't immediately pop every detail of their cases into your mind is the fault of a lapdog media and the heartbreaking conduct of ND itself.
Sullivan got more attention because it was also unique. He was the poor team manager/assistant who lost his life on a toppling scissor-lift because he was forced to videotape a practice in 50 MPH gusts of wind.
Brian Kelly only thought of a good practice. The athletic director claimed there "were no remarkable conditions," even though those kinds of lifts are not supposed to be used in anything over 25 MPH winds. Eventually, Sullivan's life faded into the background.
Seeberg's is far more menacing and sordid. She was a student at the sister school, St. Mary's. She accused a player of sexual assault. The ND police barely lifted a finger in investigating, claiming they couldn't find the player to question him after leaving phone messages over a matter of two weeks.
Seeberg was harassed by students and friends alike who didn't want to see the football program rocked in any way.
She took her own life because of it.
At a time when she was at her most vulnerable, desperate, and lost, she couldn't find a friend or a helping voice when she needed it most. After all, it might have caused a problem on the field for this monster.
She's gone forever now.
How does this happen? Probably the same old, same old: greed and ignorance. And not just on Notre Dame's part, but from those who cover the team. If someone had truly followed Seeberg's story in time and had raised hell, and if people were actually held accountable, that media outlet would have had a story that would have been the subject of conversation for a long while.
But then what? Access to that outlet would have surely been limited or cut off entirely. Notre Dame football would not have been a presence in that newspaper or on that website or TV station. Fighting Irish football means attention, and that means money.
To be fair, awful things happen at dozens of college football programs every year. Many of those also get swept under the rug because those programs make so much money they can't be disrupted.
Notre Dame isn't special in that way.
It's easy to raise attention when no one really got hurt and it's a player who will no longer don the Golden helmet. But it doesn't make any changes or do anything other than fulfill our deep urges to find out anything we can about our celebrities and athletes and bring them to our level when we can.
It's a shame it won't save any lives. But Notre Dame wasn't ever really interested in that either.