David Beckham has done majestically well in life for a not-so-bright lad who's very good at football, or certainly at taking free-kicks. His ardent fans are legion, and many of them read in him qualities and attributes far beyond that straightforward dead-ball expertise. Give a man a reputation as an early riser and thereafter he may forever sleep 'til noon. England fans, always a curious bunch, have forgiven him some stunningly undignified, inadequate, showboating performances in the finals of international contests. I seem to remember one self-styled tough-nut sports writer of an English broadsheet chiding Beckham's critics for jealousy, even hailing Becks as the best of men, a 'model husband and father' - this not long before the news broke that he'd been diddling his kids' nanny.
I'm trusting, though, that no-one has even seriously believed that Beckham is a worky ticket, a hard man, a chap with whom one would fear a physical confrontation. I'm not dismissing his claims here just on the basis of all that posing in little pants for Armani. I'm talking Dave Mackay, Tommy Smith, Stuart Pearce, Alan Shearer, even Eric Cantona - that's hard. When Cantona decided to call out a (rival team's) fan who was (snidely) goading him from the stands, we all remember what happened, yes? Whether we condone it or not...
So the helping hand of spin that still attends Beckham's every move was clear in the press coverage of his contemptible response to the (rightly) protesting fans (of his own team) at the LA Galaxy game. Coos the Press Association, "The former England captain attempted to jump over a barrier as he left the field at half-time to remonstrate with a section of the crowd that had been jeering him. He was held back by security staff, members of whom were also needed to restrain an angry fan who left his seat and rushed towards the footballer."
Oh yeah, right. He was like an effing panther trying to leap that barrier, before, strangely enough, finding three dozen burly blokes at his back, ready to help him out with one irate Hispanic guy. 'Hold me back, lads, or else I'll kill him...'