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Trying, and failing, to get upset over Leinart photos

Are you "disappointed" in Matt Leinart? Did you think he was acting irresponsibly when these photos of him operating a beer bong and carousing in a jacuzzi with several young ladies (as well as sometimes singer Nick Lachey) surfaced on a website called The Dirty, a place where people regularly post drunken self portraits?

Arizona Republic columnist Dan Bickley gave Leinart a polite scolding and said, essentially, it's time to grow up, son. (Personally, I would have enjoyed it more had he channeled Dean Wormer saying: "Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.) Leinart's coach also expressed his disappointment. ESPN's Skip Bayless was full of righteousness and fury today, calling Leinart immature.

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Personally, I can't muster up any fresh outrage over this one. I find the whole thing somewhat ridiculous, to be honest. Matt Leinart likes to drink in the off-season. Does it come as a surprise to anyone? Are we upset that he's not spending each waking moment doing sit ups and throwing out patterns?

Leinart, thus far, has looked like nothing more than an average NFL quarterback, but allow me to let you in on a little secret: He hasn't broken any laws, as far as we know.  He isn't forgetting plays because of all the alcohol he's ingested, as far we've heard. In fact, his future in the NFL won't be determined at all by his off-season partying. It will be determined by how he plays in mini-camps and in the fall, and in the off-season, what he does is his business.

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Single, 24-year-old men often like to drink alcohol. It's a fact of life. I've been known to indulge a time or two myself. The fact that Leinart likes to party in his spare time and Kurt Warner likes to attend church doesn't make Warner a better quarterback than Leinart. Last season, what made Warner a better quarterback was the fact that Leinart got injured, robbing us of a fair competition for the job.

If you want to criticize Leinart for living the lifestyle that makes him look like the male Lindsey Lohan while his ex-girlfriend, Brynn Cameron, is raising their son, that's one thing. That's at least a valid discussion. Who knows, though, what kind of custody agreement they have or how much or how little he's fulfilling his duties as a father.

What we do know is that NFL quarterbacks have been living it up like this for years, most of them just did it in an era before every girl named Kaycee or Heidi had a cell phone camera clipped to her thong. Think we wouldn't have seen pictures like this of Brett Favre during his early days in Green Bay?

Professional sports is a job, and one that should be taken seriously considering all the money these athletes make, but it's not a job 24-hours a day. We have to allow athletes to be people too. Kyle Boller didn't fizzle in Baltimore because he was out smooching Tara Reid or trying to fend off the affections of 10 girls with fake tans and pierced navels. He fizzled because he had a hard time making reads under pressure and hitting open receivers.

If Leinart fails, it will be for similar reasons, not because he hooked up with Paris Hilton.

Because we love great feature writing here at The Life of Kings, here is Esquire's Chris Jones, one of the best in the business, writing about Leinart in simpler times, before his senior year of college at USC.

PHOTO: AP

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