The ignoble end of Michael Phelps as a national treasure has already been sketched out for us by Page Six. If the gossip sheet's sources are to be believed, the 14-Olympic-gold-medal-having athlete's weakness is gambling, garnished with drinking and womanizing. Combine this with his 10,000-calorie diet, and it's not hard to envision the sad future that awaits should the monumental pressure of being the top Olympian of all time push the young man over the edge: Phelps as a pudgy, wannabe card shark, bitterly ignoring the "didn't you used to be..." questions at low-stakes poker tables in Vegas casinos. The scene last weekend:
Michael Phelps has turned into a party and poker animal, surrounding himself with bimbos and booze. A source says Phelps spent much of Thanksgiving weekend playing 10-20, no-limit hold-'em at the Borgata in Atlantic City. Although a dealer reports he lost several thousand dollars on Thursday, Phelps was back at the tables Friday.
Phelps may be too young or dense to grasp it, but the American public will grab onto the thinnest reed of truth if it means a chance to tear down one of its own heroes. They'd probably enjoy seeing Phelps stumble even more than seeing him win the 2009-2011 World Swimming Championships, set to be televised by NBC for the first time next year. At the very least he should be able to find a more discreet casino. Better yet, have a chat with Pete Rose.