Present’s great, the future's bright.
One thing you can't take away is the past, though.
Let me tell you a story.
Don’t cast any aspersions, it’s just a piece of mind.
A handful of months after Mat Fraser won his 4th consecutive CrossFit Games, someone tweeted at Rich Froning that he was shook off the realness. They didn’t use that parlance, but the sentiment was the same.
Rich responded with grace. He said something along the lines of “Been there, on to the next.” A respectful bow out. Froning had realigned his concentration to the team aspect of the sport. He’d won the last time he competed as an individual. There was nothing left to prove.
MorningChalkUp, the monolith of functional fitness newsletters then posted the exchange on Instagram. Beneath it, I commented, “Soft.” Kobe Bryant had just passed and the infamous gif of him shaking his head at Dwight Howard came to mind. When in Rome, well, you know the rest.
Rich replied to me. He wrote, “How’s your CrossFit Games career going?”
To which I fired back, “How’s your decorated combat arms career going?”
For a few reasons, this looks uglier than it was.
First, my initial offering wasn’t intended for Froning. It was focused on the absolute nobody questioning another grown man’s personal and professional itinerary. As an avid consumer of the media of critics—my appetite for film analysis, hip-hop studies and sports punditry is gluttonous at best—I can appreciate the role social media plays in being a bridge to those we watch with such a scrutinous eye. That being said, the original firestarter was, in my opinion, out of line. Rich’s counter to the tweet was done so in a manner of a statesman and beloved champion. He kept it a buck by addressing the flak with a gentle dismissal, all class.
Second, Rich Froning doesn’t owe me to ask for an explanation of my comment, and so I do not fault his misinterpretation. He’d never say such a thing to my face. He’s far too kind, I think. It would be the rare misstep in a life that appears to be well choreographed. To be honest, I was shocked that he paid mind to any of it whatsoever, tweet included.
MorningChalkUp removed this exchange at the time and has since removed the post. Soft.
If what we all saw Fraser say on Darren Woodson’s podcast is true, that means that Rich Froning, he of former GOAT status, has corresponded with me on a more recent date than he has the GOAT himself. Furthermore, Mat’s revelation in the minutes following appears to insinuate that Rich, with purpose, at a minimum misled the PRVN fitness camp about certain training potentialities.
This is not hard evidence of envy, or even hostile intent. But for the fans it must convolute the image of a man once thought to be unshakeable. So it has me thinking, Who is Rich Froning? And what does he owe us?
Occam’s razor is a principle that states “entities should not be multiplied without necessity,” or “the simplest explanation is more often than not the right one.” A concrete aphorism to bestow in situations that demand a particular nuance to unclutter, if need be. Let us utilize it here: Rich Froning is a man from Tennessee and he is beholden to us, the public gallery, for a grand total of nothing.
As a fan, this may be unsatisfactory, as those we place on pedestals are mere mortals without ovation, but don’t be at all alarmed if the Mayhem team never acknowledges the criticism and continues on living their lives. Being that Froning must realize that he’s Joe Montana to Fraser’s TB12 could lend to the lack of a judicious clap back. He cannot bulldoze the Greatest of All Time like he once did Mitch Barnard. Like he once attempted to do with me. History says that Froning’s days of trigger happy twitter fingers are behind him. Perhaps he’s been made aware that Rich and petty are antonyms. It’s been a full news cycle and the trenches are quiet.
Will I watch closer how Haley Adams interacts with Tia next time they’re competing during a broadcast? Yes. There’s that appetite for interpretive fuel of mine. Am I thankful Ben Gibbs flashed his great journalistic instinct and asked the question? Shoot, when in Rome.
But maybe it’s better we don’t hope for fireworks. Maybe as diehard devotees of this thing of ours we shouldn’t petition the universe for Froning to circle back to the individual side one last time. A decade since his first victory, a year before he ages out to Masters, for hell or glory. Maybe that’s selfish.
If he asked me, well, you know the rest.