Michael Phelps' life has calmed down somewhat in the past few days. He isn't waking up to people shouting outside his apartment, and the paparazzi, for the most part, have stopped tailing him.
But Phelps still isn't ready to commit to swimming in the 2012 Olympics. The Rodgers Forge native, 23, says it's something he continues to mull.
"It will take a few months," Phelps said. "I'll give it 30 or 60 days. I think it will be better. I'm already happier now than I was, just having some part of my life back to normal, being able to swim again, having fun, joking around."
Phelps spoke to The Baltimore Sun outside Meadowbrook Aquatic Center after finishing a three-hour practice yesterday. Every few minutes, kids would run up to him and ask for autographs or beg to have a picture taken with him. Phelps dutifully posed and signed, though he acknowledged he was exhausted from his workout.
"I'm not feeling too good physically," Phelps said. "But I'm actually able to sleep now. I had a real hard time sleeping over the last two weeks or so. Just swimming and thinking about everything going on. Everything is back to what I call normal, I guess."
Phelps, serving a three-month suspension from USA Swimming, said he called every one of his sponsors to apologize after a photo of him presumably smoking marijuana was published in a British tabloid. He talked to everyone except Kellogg Co., which decided it would not renew its endorsement deal with Phelps after it expires at the end of February.
"I guess the only one I didn't really talk to was Kellogg, and I attempted to call four days in a row and didn't get any responses," Phelps said, shrugging his shoulders. "I talked to everybody else, and they're all supportive."
Kellogg Co.'s decision to drop Phelps for behavior "not consistent with the image of Kellogg" has resulted in some minor backlash against the company. There is a Facebook group with nearly 4,600 members calling for a boycott of all Kellogg's products, and the Marijuana Policy Project, the Drug Policy Alliance, Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws have also called for a boycott. The Huffington Post reported over the weekend that the company is getting so many complaints, it had set up a special line to handle them all.
"Kellogg's dismissal of Phelps is hypocritical and disgusting, and our members are angrier than I've ever seen them," Marijuana Policy Project executive director Rob Kampia said. "Kellogg's had no problem signing up Phelps when he had a conviction for drunk driving, an illegal act that could actually have killed someone. To drop him for choosing to relax with a substance that's safer than beer is an outrage, and it sends a dangerous message to young people."
Phelps said now that the furor over the incident has faded somewhat, he has even been able to laugh about some of the comedy it has inspired. On Saturday Night Live, Seth Meyers, the show's head writer and anchor of "Weekend Update," zinged Kellogg's as well as the anonymous picture taker during a segment of the show. The segment, "Really," has been rapidly spread on the Internet.
"Really, Kellogg?" Meyers said in the monologue. "Marijuana is not consistent with your image? Because I thought it was totally consistent. Every one of your mascots is a wild-eyed cartoon character with uncontrollable munchies. Every one of your products sounds like a wish a genie granted at a Phish concert. ... And if you're at a party and you see Michael Phelps smoking a bong and your first thought isn't 'Wow, I get to party with Michael Phelps' and instead you take a picture and sell it to a tabloid, you should take a long, hard look in the mirror."
Said Phelps: "I saw the SNL skit [Sunday morning] and I was just dying. We definitely got a huge kick out of it. My mom saw it, my sisters saw it, and everyone was e-mailing each other and sending each other the link, so it was pretty good."