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December 2011 Archive


Ouch That Hurt: Swiping Cam Newtons Talented Butt Cheeks Across the Fiery Pits of Reality

 love Cam Newton.

Now that thats out of the way its time for me to swipe those cute little buns across the fiery pits of racial reality. Beware there are about to be some 3rd degree burns on those talented little ass cheeks.

ESPN posted an interview with Cam that will be in their Magazine next month where he touches on all of those who criticized him when he was coming into the NFL. If you remember scouts said a number of things-that he was one-read and his smile was fake among other (mostly petty and untrue) things. As you all know by now, along with breaking a boat load of records, Cam has shown himself to be mature, poised, and a more than capable passer and runner. In fact, he is rookie of the year no matter which way the vote goes. He has single-handedly reinvigorated the Carolina Panthers franchise despite a defense that Football Outsiders hasnt ranked above 30 all season long.

But on race, Cam has it painfully wrong:
I cant sit up here and look at it like, Oh man, my critics are racist, Newton said. I blame JaMarcus Russell and to some degree. If you have the opportunity to make that kind of money doing something you love to do, why would you screw it up? Im trying to be a trailblazer. If Baylors Robert Griffin decides to come out, I want people to say He can be the next Cam Newton instead of Hes going to be the next JaMarcus Russell.

What Cam doesnt realize is that the very need to link athletes who have little in common besides their race could be considered, itself, to be racist. No I dont think Cam is racist, I think that Cam, like most black people, live in a world where they worry about being judged by the actions of other blacks. This is a feeling that many blacks experience at different times in life but at work is where it haunts us the most. Often youll hear blacks say they dont want to mess it up for any blacks that apply for a position after them. Frequently its not until later in life when you realize that its wasted mental and emotional energy to try to take on the image of an entire race on your own. People who are racist like their racist thoughts just fine, and you shucking and jiving-despite what your parents may have taught you- trying to be one of the good ones is just one way to stress yourself into an early grave.

Cam will learn that as well-hopefully sooner rather than later. No matter how well Cam plays into the future it wont stop some folks from deliberately choosing to compare up and coming black QBs to black QBs who are considered failures. The entire time Newton was coming up, McNabb and Culpepper were right there as two very OBVIOUS available comparisons (if you just had to choose black QBs to compare Cam to) yet people, including Cam, prefer to hold up Young and Russell as barometers. What makes Cam think that performing well will afford future black QBs with a luxury he, himself, does not afford Robert Griffin III?

On some level, it seems Cam has forgotten he is not the first black QB to perform well. I think he has some research to do.

To speak specifically to Vince Young and Jamarcus Russell…they faced vastly different circumstances coming into the league. To compare the two of them is disturbing. Further, Young isnt the first interception King to lose a starting QB position and to go play backup with a chance to someday start again. And that experience is certainly not limited to black athletes. Washington Redskins QB Rex Grossman, who is white, went to the Super Bowl, played backup for the Houston Texans and now starts for the Redskins. Russell wasnt the first QB or player to underperform, display poor personal conduct and find himself out of the league altogether. That is something that happens to both black and white athletes on a yearly basis, take your pick there are many available comparisons. Ryan Leaf?

Ill save my tirade on how Russells problems werent completely his fault for another post. But for now…

The undercurrent here is that two big dumb black studs squandered an opportunity that some people think they never should have had in the first place. But failing to meet expectations is not special to black folks. And I wish Cam would have taken a step back and thought about why the connection between the three of them was ever even made. When I see Cam play, I see more of Ben Roethlisberger than anyone else who currently plays. Football Outsiders said he was Peyton Manning and Herschel Walker rolled into one. I think thats a much more thoughtful comparison.

As far as Robert Griffin is concerned I think theres something else to remember before we peg him. The college game is very different from the NFL game. Griffin is a good rusher but hasnt shown me anything that says he has a rush first, pass second mentality. I think Griffin is, at his core a passer first. He could spend his entire NFL career somewhere near the pocket and passing on the run ala Tony Romo when necessary. Its too soon to know. And its certainly too soon to limit our thoughts of what Griffin can be become by only considering comparisons to players he shares very little with beyond skin tone.

Back to Cam: Unfortunately, I wasnt surprised by what he said. In fact, I was alarmed by Cams earlier comments during the summer when asked about whether he thought black QBs were treated differently. He was very dismissive. But not dismissive in a way that indicated that hed given it any thought. Id love to hear Cams comments in a few years once hes lived a little outside of the deliberate shelter of big money college athletics.

But then gain, he could just end up being another Michael avoid-any-subject-that-could-hurt-my-pockets Jordan. And that would make me sad.

What we do know, for sure, is that most of the ticket buying public doesnt like to hear about race no matter how valid the conversation. Personally, Id rather Cam coddle those folks by avoiding the topic altogether in lieu of giving them some pseudo post-racial poster boy.


A Look Back on How We Used To Think Of Michael Vick

Reading through the Sports Illustrated Vaults are how I like to spend some of my free time. Some of the best and most crisply written sports pieces lie in the internet pages of and I wish I could read every story. Anyway, the other night Timbaland’s E! True Hollywood Story came on television and it got me reminiscing about growing up in Tidewater Virginia and what it was like for me-the good and the bad.

One of the good things was seeing people from around the area make it big in entertainment and sports. I remember my friends and I used to do talent shows hoping to be discovered by somebody like Teddy Riley who was also from Tidewater and produced and sang in the groups “Guy” and “Blackstreet.” Other names from Tidewater ring bells too: Missy Elliott, Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo (together known as the Neptunes), super hot producer Lex Luger (who is from my hometown of Suffolk), and sports stars like Allen Iverson, Alonzo Mourning, Bruce Smith, Aaron Brooks, Deangelo Hall, Ronald Curry and Michael Vick.

When I was growing up Ronald Curry was the “it” guy and people didn’t talk too much about Vick although I remember him pretty well. This story  provided an opportunity for me to dip even further into my memory bank. I still remember the lead up to the Hokies going to the Sugar Bowl, it was all we talked about at school.  I even remember my, now deceased, former neighbor had been a teacher of Vick’s and Vick had made sure that he got a ticket to the game. Sidebar: I undertook a similar memory dump when I watched Allen Iverson’s 30 for 30 documentary which brought up a lot of memories about Tidewater and my complex relationship with my home.

The most striking thing about the story on Vick is the comments that Vick’s mother and former coaches and teammates make about him. They talk about how sweet and polite and “good” he is and how that it is so uncommon. I think people forget that when Vick was found to be running a dogfighting organization, the perception of him, at the time wasn’t of some bad boy athlete. In fact, some of his previous negative coverage in the news was almost dusted immediately under the rug-although I think most of us remember him flipping the crowd the bird and the whole “Ron Mexico” story.

When I read stories like this I’m reminded of how complex people are, and how we tend to get pulled in different directions. There are competing priorities, thoughts, intentions and yes, ego sometimes trumps common sense. And I think that Vick is a example of what can happen when that occurs. Reading this story now, for some of you who are unfamiliar with his best, will either put Vick’s life in context OR it will confuse you even more.

Life is funny that way.

I encourage you to read the whole article, but I’ll post my favorite excerpt from the story on Vick’s admiration of Ronald Curry:

Two years ago, when Vick first reported as a freshman, he was so overwhelmed by the complexity of Virginia Tech’s multiple-set offense and its demands on the quarterback that he considered asking to be moved to another position. “I’m going to tell coach I want to play receiver,” he confided to fellow quarterback Meyer during preseason practice. “This is too much. I can’t take it all in.”

“He’d come out to practice, and his eyes would be big and wild and full of stars,” says Meyer. “He was just awed by everything. Michael didn’t even recognize how good he was. He didn’t understand that he had the tools to do whatever he wanted.”

“Ain’t no way I can learn all this,” Vick would mumble to himself in practice.

Rickey Bustle, the team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, pulled Vick aside one day and told him to settle down. “You’re a freshman,” Vick recalls Bustle saying. “You’re 18 years old, and you just got here. Why do you expect to do so much?”

It was a question Vick couldn’t easily answer. At Warwick High, Vick had been one of the state’s top recruits, coveted by major college programs nationwide. But he played in the same district and at the same position asHampton’s Ronald Curry, who in 1997-98 was the most heralded schoolboy athlete in the country. Vick so admired the way Curry played that he mimicked some of his moves, and once, when Curry got hurt, Vick’s family sent him a get-well card. “I lived in his shadow,” says Vick. “At the end of my senior year I ended up second-team everything. The papers would have a huge picture of Ronald Curry, with poor little Mike Vick down in the corner about the size of a stamp. I never held it against Curry—just the opposite, I was happy for him. But being second was something I had to deal with, and deal with a lot.”


Sidebar: anyone remember scouts trying to convince us that Vick’s brother Marcus would be better than him one day? Yeah.






There Is No Suck For Luck So Shut Up

The Luck Era at Standford comes to a close, next stop? INDIANAPOLIS COLTS.

When Stanford QB Andrew Luck was told about the whole “suck for luck” concept (i.e. the idea that teams might intentionally lose to get the first pick so that they can draft him) he said, and I quote, it was “stupid.” And last night, with the pitiful Colts beating the hobbled Houston Texans, the commentary got dumber. People were actually getting upset with the Colts for wanting to win.

To any competitor, there’s a simple answer for why the Colts didn’t give up: cause winning is good and losing is bad and no amount of hypothetical benefits to losing makes winning any less fun or desirable. It just doesn’t. There are many Colts who won’t even be on the team next year to play with Andrew Luck (Reggie Wayne? Hello?). Hell, they might not be on any team. But football records are kept forever and a team losing on purpose isn’t something that will be remembered fondly or remembered at all, for that matter. They will simply be remembered as losers…giver-uppers…folks with no heart.

I think one thing people can’t wrap their mind around is the Colts team actually being bad enough to lose as many games as they have without there being some intent behind it. That goes back to the whole “Peyton Manning should be MVP” poppycock that’s been bandied about with simple minded people arguing that the Colts are so bad without Manning and so good WITH him that OBVIOUSLY he’s the most valuable player ever in history.

My biggest issue with this, besides the fact that it’s just dumb to reward a player (and by association a team) for caring nothing about their backup QB situation, run protection or defense, but also that the Colts were, at best, WITH Manning, a 9 win team THIS YEAR. And 9 is thinking positive cause after all this is THE Peyton Manning.

The AFC just ain’t what it used to be. Playing teams like the Cincinnati Bengals or even the Houston Texans isn’t a guaranteed win right now. The Colts got lucky last night with their superfluously terrible second backup QB Orlovsky leading the kind of drive that his lack of pocket awareness and general issues with football sense wouldn’t indicate he could actually do in life ever. But this game could have easily gone the other way even with Manning playing had the Texans not been down to their 8th string QB.


Let’s look at the Colts schedule this year:

Week 1 – Texans

Week 2 – Browns

Week 3 – Steelers

Week 4 – Bucs

Week 5 –Chiefs

Week 6 – Bengals

Week 7 – Saints

Week 8 – Titans

Week 9 – Falcons

Week 10 – Jags

Week 11 – Bye

Week 12 –Panthers

Week 13 – Patriots

Week 14 – Ravens

Week 15 – Titans

Week 16 – Texans

Week 17 – Jaguars


The Colts’ only two wins have come in their last two games against the Titans and Texans. Realistically you could say that the Colts could have counted on beating the Bucs (even though the Bucs started the season well I’m going to give this one to the Colts), the Jags twice, Browns and probably the Panthers given their horrid defense. I’m being generous here !!

Let’s assume they split the four Texans and Titans games. That’s 7 wins at most on the weak end of the schedule which, as the Packers found out against the Chiefs, anything can happen against weak teams on a random football Sunday. But even with all those in their pocket, they would have still had to contend with the Ravens, Steelers, Bengals, Saints, Patriots, Falcons and a dangerous Chiefs team to make more than 7 wins.

Yesterday, Jim Irsay put a further damper on Suck for Luck by saying “if” Manning plays next year it will be for the Colts. We don’t know if Manning will play but it’s obvious he’s doing everything he can to make it back much to my amazement. I’ve kind of accepted that Manning WILL be back (after previously accepting that he definitely wouldn’t, cause I mean who would do that with kids at home?) so now my interest lies in whether Wayne returns next year and what other changes the Colts make to the team to make them competitive. Assuming they’re not still putting all their proverbial eggs in Manning’s basket.

On a separate note, does anyone care what kind of pressure this puts on Luck? Or better yet, the kind of expectations it puts on whatever team drafts him? Admittedly, I’ve only seen Luck play twice. But it’s hard for me to imagine him being heads and tails better than the Panthers’ Cam Newton or even the Bengals Andy Dalton for that matter. And let’s remember, last year around this time we were all supposed to think that Blaine Gabbert was the best of the QB bunch. I think people need to back off with this narrative and begin to let chips fall where they may.





The Jordan Concords: Of Hoaxes, Shoes, Twitter and Willie Lynch


Who knew a pair of shoes could be so controversial!

I feel justified in blogging about this because it’s loosely sports related. So bear with me.

Every time a new product comes out, the more self-righteous among us use their precious little free time in between rising and grinding to let the rest of us know that we’re irresponsible with money. Cause obviously everyone who stood in line or pre-ordered Michael Jordan’s new Concord shoe is on some form of welfare, mired in credit card debt and battling the common urge amongst impoverished people to stab people on sight. There’s zero possibility that the vast majority of people who ran out to purchase Concords are average people who splurge on some things (maybe too much) and save on others.

But enough about that, I want to talk about the rumors of violence and the power of twitter. Yesterday, people started posting names of people on twitter saying that they died during some violent confrontation while or after purchasing the shoes. Someone even went so far as to post a facebook page  (that at this posting has 17 THOUSAND likes) memorializing the dead complete with tacky ass “from – to” lettering over the picture of a dude who bares a striking resemblance to the rapper Soulja Boy but apparently, according to the Baltimore Sun, is a model in a stock photo.

After the initial tweet about that guy dying, other people mocked the tweet and made up additional (and hilarious!!) names and death circumstances. Unfortunately, there are a great bit of people who are so engaged with twitter that they forget google is just one browser click away. If you googled “Jordan’s + shoe + death” nothing came up. The initial “dead dude” was supposedly in Washington DC, one of the major market areas in the United States with one of the largest and most notable papers of record—The Washington Post. The Post, to date, hasn’t posted anything in their local or crime section about the tragic death of a young man associated with buying Jordan shoes.

Make no mistake, there seems to have been a few violent episodes—stores being vandalized and crowds being controlled by police.  Let’s remember, Christmas is in two days   and it is the American way to put undue pressure on yourself in a number of ways. The holidays are often a time of depression and desperation for folks with race being only a minor factor in terms of cause and degree. We’re all affected by the holiday rush to travel, cook, consume, purchase, and give of time, emotion and cold hard cash.  It’s a perfect set of circumstances for something like a shoe going on sale to drive people right up to the edge. And this seems to have resulted in a few arrests, but no deaths to speak of.

The rumors of deaths smacked of Willie Lynch. For those who are unfamiliar, some asswipe professor found a letter supposedly written by a slave owner telling, in graphic detail, how he poisoned black folks against each other. Despite being written like Gucci Mane-meets-Masterpiece Theater , using a name meant to embarrass the believer (Will He Lynch) and using a lot of MODERN post-war contrived rhetoric, the letter has been taught in AMERICAN SCHOOLS for years . The letter itself was most likely written by someone who wanted to motivate black people into some sort of soul searching by pointing out, in familiar fashion, the flaws  of the community and pointing the analysis back to the only people whose opinion matters—WHITE MEN.

Unfortunately, as has become all too common in America, when we know things aren’t true we still persist with them. One of the biggest arguments people have in support of the Willie Lynch letter is that “even if it’s not true, it’s still valid.” Well actually no, lies invalidate arguments. Lies shouldn’t be taught or defended rather merely accepted as what they are and moved past. The only reason ever to discuss Willie Lynch is to speculate about why some were so eager to embrace the document’s existence.

I think that’s an important discussion. Because here we are with yet another situation where, despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, people couldn’t wait to believe something that supported their theory of blacks being more materialistic than whites and willing to harm people to satisfy their savage urge to consume. The death rumor was most likely started with the same intention as the Willie Lynch letter was written—to legitimize inadequately developed opinions and to attempt to prove something by virtue of “well, it coulda happened!”

We have to do better than that. We also have to realize that as much as twitter can inform, it can also misinform. It takes seconds to verify the validity of news items online. And if you don’t have time to do so, perhaps your participation in related conversations should be appropriately delayed until you do.


Why I’m Ignoring All Eagles Playoffs Scenarios

It looks like my favorite Eagle Asante Samuel won't be with Philly next year. HOW IS LIFE WORTH LIVING NOW?

Yes I am an Eagles fan. So technically I should be all over this whole “if the Eagles beat the Cowboys and Redskins and the Jets beat the Giants and the Giants beat the Cowboys and the Cowboys lose to both the Eagles and Giants the Eagles go to the playoffs conversation.

But I’m not.

First of all, I am a fan of two teams. The other team I adore is the Atlanta Falcons. For years, the Falcons only went to the playoffs when the NFL provided them tickets and transportation. Winning seasons weren’t a sure thing. Now that the Falcons have had 4 straight winning seasons and are headed toward their 3rd playoff appearance in 4 years, I can say that the Falcons getting to the playoffs win or lose is what I expect and I’m, to a certain extent, happy with.

With the Eagles that is not the case. The Eagles have had 239849023 winning seasons, division titles and even a conference title! I’m no longer satisfied with the one and done thing that has plagued the Eagles as of late. We’ve hovered around above-average-semi-mediocrity since 2005. I’m ready for more. So it’s hard for me to get super excited about less-than-long shot chances at making the playoffs this year. I wanna know that once we get there we could do something with the opportunity.

That’s not to say I wouldn’t love it if the Eagles DID make the playoffs…but I just don’t want to think about it. Let’s say they go…does that make this season any less a disaster? Not really! And with disasters come change. Could any changes that are made that don’t work out result in another disastrous season next year? SURE COULD.

To be clear, I expect great things out of the Eagles next year. I think they will bounce back. In fact, depending on what decisions are made for next season and whether Vick can control himself, I might say they’re easily a 13-3 team. But this year, I’m done with hope. I used it all up when I got excited thinking they were going to win their game against the Bears. I have no juice left for playoff scenarios.

I am hereby covering my ears and screaming LALALALALALLALALALA.

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