Dexter Rogers

Dexter Rogers

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Monday Night Football: The Ravens shutout the lowly Browns


CLEVELAND – The team, formerly known as the Cleveland Browns (Baltimore Ravens), marched into their old city and claimed a victory over the current Cleveland Browns. Starting quarterback Brady Quinn over Derek Anderson didn’t help the anemic offense as the Browns were shut out 16-0.

The Cleveland defense played solid but the offense stunk. I could barely stand to watch. The Browns have scored just five offensive touchdowns this season. That’s horrific.

In the press conference Browns head coach Eric Mangini had this to say when asked about the offense: I’ve tried a lot of different things and obviously it’s not been successful enough. We’re going to have to keep trying things until we get to the point where we need to be.”

Quinn didn’t try throw downfield at all. Was anything over a ten yard pass off limits for Quinn? Sure looked that way to me but Mangini suggests, “It’s not like we were avoiding that part of the field.”

What game was Mangini watching?

The first half was like watching grass grow. Both teams couldn’t move the ball.

In the second half the Ravens got the offense and defense rolling. It wasn’t pretty but a wins a win. Raven quarterback Joe Flacco said, “It was an ugly win, but that’s the way some wins are in the NFL.”

The 1-8 Browns wish they could get a win ugly or otherwise. Truthfully the Browns were doomed before this season began. I must digress.

Wide receiver Donte Stallworth decided to whop-it-up in Miami Beach this summer and sadly killed a man while driving intoxicated.

Kellen Winslow Jr. was traded for essentially being too outspoken.

Romeo Crennel was fired after posting a 4-12 mark last season. Eric Mangini was hired to restore order but his team sports a woeful 1-8 record. Guess his tough-guy tactics aren’t working.

Then last month Braylon Edwards misbehaved himself out of Cleveland by picking on LeBron James’ friend who is half of Edwards’ size. The Browns were forced to ship him to the New York Jets.

Then the Browns recently fired the General Manager George Kokinis. Pretty rare that happens during the season.

Wait, there’s more. Browns owner Randy Lerner recently met with disgruntled fans to talk about the state of the franchise.

Are you kidding me?

Talking to fans about running a team is a classic case of the blind leading the blind.
The level of dysfunction with the Browns organization is off the charts.

Largely professional franchises are privately owned but are publicly subsidized. The fans should have a voice. But the best you way you communicate with fans are to win games.

One of the major problems with professional sports, and more specifically the Cleveland Browns, is ownership and upper-management know squat about the intricacies of sports management. Lerner and his cronies understand profit and loss sheets but seemingly lack the capabilities to run the franchise.

The Cleveland Browns haven’t been champions since Jim Brown led then to the title over the Baltimore Colts in 1964. The way the Browns franchise is being handled the drought is likely to continue.

The Browns need a complete overhaul. They need players that can play. The front office, the coaching staff and the players must share a common goal and rally around it. Success breeds loyalty.

Speaking of loyalty, did the Browns organization give up on Romeo Crennel too soon?

Typically when franchises make changes they hope to upgrade the franchise.
Was Mangini truly an upgrade over Crennel?

Looking at the woeful Browns tonight I’d have to say no.

Crennel was perceived as a softy who let the players get away with too much. He posted a 4-12 record last year granted but did he really get a fair shake? In 2007 Crennel was 10-6. It boils down to this: is Mangini doing a better job then the guy he replaced?

Crennel was fired too early. In most cases a white coach in Crennels’ situation last year would be more likely to get the benefit of the doubt. Crennel will not likely get recycled anytime soon like many of his white coaching brethren.

Luckily the Cincinnati Bengals got it right. Marvin Lewis suffered through a 4-11-1 record last season. There were rumblings Lewis would be canned in the off-season but the organization stuck with him. Now his team sits atop their division.

Lewis is clearly the exception, not the rule. For every Marvin Lewis who gets the rare benefit of the doubt there’s Ray Rhodes, Art Shell, and Dennis Greens who get the hook too soon and rarely recycled.

So what's the answer in Cleveland?

Hire competent front-office personnel that will be a reflection of the coaching staff and ultimately the players.

Get a real General Manager then fire Eric Mangini. Get a coach who has respect amongst his peers. Get Bill Cowher off the set at CBS. He's won a Super Bowl.

Next, get a quarterback. Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn integrated together won’t give you "one" solid quarterback. Trade Anderson and Quinn and sign a veteran.

Bottom line: if something isn't done quickly the Cleveland Browns will continue to be the laughing stock of the NFL for years to come.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Did former New Orleans Hornets coach Byron Scott get fired because of race?


Byron Scott has been fired as head coach of the New Orleans Hornets. Yeah, I’m shaking my head too.

One of the first things that popped into my mind was who was going to replace Scott. Enter New Orleans Hornets General Manager Jeff Bower.

You know who he is right? Bower use to be the head coach at.

Oops, sorry.

Bower has never been a head coach in the NBA. Is Bower really the right man for the job?

Please.

This move makes absolutely no sense. The Hornets fire a man who has rings on his fingers as a player and two NBA Finals appearances with the New Jersey Nets as a coach. Scott gets canned at the beginning of the season for a guy who has never coached?

Scott was Coach-of-the-Year during the 2007-2008 campaign. He nearly took the Hornets to the Western Conference Finals. Last year the Hornets lost to Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs.

It’s hard to understand why the team decided to part ways after a 3-6 start. The season just got under way. Why make a change so early?

Here it is from the horses mouth Bower himself: “As we look at our long-term coaching plans, it’s not about who the head coach is, it’s about the role of the head coach to get the team to perform to their capabilities and reaching our potential this season.”

What can someone like Bower, who has never been a head coach in the NBA, going to do that Scott hasn’t done as a player and a coach?

Typically when franchises make a change usually one strives to get someone equal to or better than the guy you’re letting go. How can anyone logically argue Bower gives this team the best chance to win over Scott?

Bottom line: it’s Bowers’ fault the team has started slowly not Scott. Scott didn’t decide to trade versatile Tyson Chandler in favor of Emeka Okafor. Scott isn’t the reason why an aging Pedja Stojakavic is a shell of himself. It was Bower who made these moves. In essence, Bower gets rid of Scott as a way off covering up for his mistakes.

Does this firing have racial undertones?


It seems African American coaches often get a shorter leash than their white counterparts. Scotts’ firing reminds me of Avery Johnson. Johnson took over for Don Nelson full-time back in 2004-2005 campaign as head coach of the Dallas Mavericks. In 3 ½ years Johnson compiled a career record of 194-70 which equates to a winning percentage of .735. After a 51-31 record he gets run out of town.

In the 2006-2007 campaign Johnson led the Mavericks to a 67-15 record.

After firing Johnson the Mavericks turned to Rick Carlisle. His career record is 331-243 which equates to a .577 winning percentage. Carlisle went 50-32 last season.

Statistics tell the story and facts don’t lie.

Numbers indicate Carlisle isn’t doing a better job than the guy he replaced. Facts indicate there was something shady regarding the firings of Johnson and Scott.

Cut the cards as you wish, but race played a factor in why Scott was fired and why Johnson can’t get rehired.

To add insult to injury the Hornets also hired the much traveled and troubled Tim Floyd. Floyd coached the Hornets to a 41-41 record back in 2003. That’s not setting the world on fire yet, he seems to be primed for another return as the head man.

Both Bower and Floyd together don’t make half the coach Scott is.

Hornets owner George Shinn needs to get a clue. Owners like Shinn are the preeminent example of what’s wrong with sports. There are too many owners who know little about the intricacies of sports. They are businessmen who treat their teams as toys rather than really trying to run them.

Such lunacy results in making boneheaded decisions like letting a former championship player and bona fide coach like Byron Scott walk free.

I guess it’s not about the right man for the job. It’s about having the white man for the job.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Notre Dame loss to Pitt puts another nail in Charlie Weis’ coffin


When Weis was introduced as Notre Dames’ head coach five years ago at his press conference he suggested, “Well, guess what folks you are a 6-5 football team and that’s not good enough.”

Before the Pittsburgh game Weis was on life support. After dropping another game to a ranked opponent it seems the time is nearing to pull the plug on the Charlie Weis era at Notre Dame.

Weis’ record stands at 6-4 after losing to Navy last week and Pittsburgh today 27-22. The Panthers outplayed the Irish and rightfully so because they were simply a better team.

Weis came into this season with a schedule weak as water. The Irish had high hopes in trying to restore the once proud tradition at Notre Dame. Instead the season has been an utter debacle.

What’s going to be the excuse for keeping Weis now?

Costs too much to fire him?

He’s a great recruiter?

He just needs more time?

Sorry Charlie. Those excuses are old now. It’s about winning. All other things are secondary at this point. The time has come to pull the plug on the Charlie Weis era.

Weis should’ve been canned two seasons ago when he posted a 3-9 record. When Weis took the Irish job he stated 6-5 wasn’t good enough. Of course that was Tyrone Willingham’s record after his third season.

Well, if 6-5 wasn’t good enough for Willingham how the hell was 3-9 sufficient enough for Weis to keep his job?

Weis had some success his first two years because he inherited some talent, particularly on the offensive side of the ball from the Willingham regime. Willingham’s guys got Weis two BCS appearances.

Has Weis’ blue-chip recruits produced?

Much has been made of Weis’ recruiting. The talk is he does a great job of getting talent. Guess what folks. Weis has done a piss-poor job of getting that talent to produce. Without question Weis’ guys have severely underachieved.

Weis’ “schematic advantage” he professed to have over teams has never manifested and it never will. Talk is cheap. People are about results and Weis has not delivered the goods.

In an odd sense this is divine justice come late. Say as you wish but Willingham was ousted prematurely and unfairly. There’s no logical way anyone can argue Weis is doing a better job than the guy he replaced. It can logically asserted Weis is doing a worse job than Willingham.

When Willingham was hired he was the first African American head coach of any team in Notre Dames’ history. He was also the fastest head coach fired. Race played a factor in why Willingham was fired and why Weis has yet to be fired.

For those of you who suggest I’m stirring the race pot I’m not. I’m calling it like I see it. Until Weis is fired I will continue to raise the Willingham issue because it wasn’t talked about enough when it transpired and it set the precedent for where Notre Dame is today with Weis.

If race didn’t factor in Willingham’s firing how can you explain why Weis got the benefit of the doubt after going 3-9 while Willingham was fired at 6-5 after three years?

Did Willingham lose to Navy twice?

Did Willingham ever post a 3-9 record?

Did Willingham’s players ever have snowballs thrown at them like Weis’ team after they lost to Syracuse at home last season?

Case closed.

Weis doesn’t have one signature victory he can point to suggest his team had done anything worthwhile under his leadership. Weis’ loss to Pittsburgh proves his squad simply can’t beat anyone ranked.

The remedy is as follows: fire Weis and get a real coach. He wasn’t qualified for the job to begin with. Weis isn’t a true leader. Get someone with experience that has a proven track record of producing wins. He was a side-kick at New England.

Weis is not Batman, he’s Robin.

When Weis took the job he suggested a 6-5 record was “not good enough” for Notre Dame. Well, looks like his 6-4 won’t be either. Each loss merely represents another nail in Weis’ coffin.

Without question Weis is on life support. At seasons end the only dignified thing the Irish administration can do is pay Weis to leave.

Cut the cord on the Charlie Weis era please.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tennis: Melanie Oudin calls out Williams’ sisters, US loses Fed Cup to Italy


The US team lost in the Fed Cup final 3-0 to the Italian team. Venus and Serena Williams decided not to participate.

Young American Melanie Oudin surely wanted to represent her country though. Oudin, who lost to Flavia Pannetta which gave the Italians an insurmountable lead of 3-0 in a best-of-five series stated: “I wanted to come here. I wanted to play for my country. Other people choose different things.”

Oudin continued, “Some people I guess didn’t want to play as badly as I did. But I think that the team that we had here really wanted to be here,” Oudin said. “You don’t want people here that don’t want to be here. Even if you lose, if you give it everything you have, then that’s the best you can do.”

Who is Oudin referencing when she states, “you don’t want people here that don’t want to be here?”

Without question Oudin is referencing the Williams’ sisters. Perhaps if Oudin was winning Grand Slams, was No. 1 in the world and representing her country her words would have more sting and validation.

Oudin made an impressive and surprising run at the US Open. She made it all the way to the quarterfinals. Some have anointed Oudin as being the next big thing in American tennis. Time will tell, but here are my thoughts.

Going back to the US Open, I can remember during Oudins’ impressive run that everyone got very excited that an-up-and coming “American” was doing so well. I can distinctly recall tennis analyst John McEnroe stating on two occasions that Oudin was “the last American standing” in the tournament.

When McEnroe made his statement Serena Williams was still very much alive in the tournament. Isn’t Serena an American?

McEnore’s statement demonstrated how a segment of white America views Serena Williams. Mistake or not his words were very disrespectful. It questioned her citizenship and her legitimacy as being the face of American tennis.

At the US Open Oudin gave a segment of American tennis hope. Many have been waiting for a white player who can possibly be the face of American tennis just like the good ole days when Tracy Austin and Chris Evert dominated in the 1970’s and early 1980’s.

Just think, if Oudin can manage to do well then tennis can have a “real” American represent instead of the adopted Maria Sharapova.

Despite the success of the Williams’ sisters over the last decade a segment of the tennis establishment are not comfortable with having African Americans dominate. They are not comfortable with having two African Americans raised under one roof take over a sport historically reserved for whites.

Can you name me a set of brothers and sisters of any race who both dominated a professional sport like the Williams’ sisters?

In the course of establishing and maintaining their strangle-hold on tennis the Williams’ sisters have made decisions that aren’t embraced. One of those decisions being their unwillingness to consistently play Fed Cup tennis. I see it like this: if this is America you have a choice to do as you please so long if it’s under the jurisdiction of the law. If the Williams’ sisters don’t want to play Fed Cup they don’t have too.

Some see the Williams’ sisters desire to not represent the ole “red, white and blue” as a slap in the face. Where was the “ole red, white and blue” when the entire Williams’ family was subject to racist taunts at Indian Wells in 2001? Where was the outcry when Serena was mercifully booed in the final where fans reportedly called members of her family “nigger” among other things?

As a result the Williams’ sisters vowed to never step foot at that tournament again and they haven’t.


It cuts both ways: you can’t condemn the Williams’ sisters for not playing representing their country and simultaneously do nothing when “Americans” have been victimized by racism on tour.

Bottom line: if Melanie Oudin has a right to speak her peace. She’s free to say how she feels. But at the same time the Williams’ sisters have a right not to play Fed Cup if they don’t want to.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Charlie Weis must go!!!


Charlie Weis’ Notre Dame fighting Irish played Navy at home and lost 23-21. The embarrassing loss puts Notre Dames hope for a BCS game in serious jeopardy as Navy literally ran all over the Irish defense.

Two seasons ago Navy beat the Irish 46-44. Before that loss the Irish beat Navy 43 consecutive times. Now Navy has won 2 of the last 3 contests against the Irish.

What’s the excuse now for keeping Weis as head coach?

Based on the teams performance today Notre Dame must make some changes starting with Weis. The team has played a bubble gum schedule to ensure they’d have good record but not necessarily a good team. Bottom line: Weis hasn’t met the high expectations he set for the team when he took over for Tyrone Willingham five seasons ago.

All the excuses must cease. No more benefit of the doubts. Weis must go.

How can folks continue to think Weis is the coach that gives the Irish the best chance to win? Was Weis even qualified for this prestigious job to begin with?

Yeah, he was an offensive coordinator with the New England Patriots. But he was just a member of the Bill Belichick tree. His only head coaching experience came with a high school team in 1989 in New Jersey.

Stellar credentials huh?

Weis wasn’t responsible for New England’s success-he was merely a part of it. Weis wasn’t the head coach. He was just a hired gun to maintain order on the offensive side of the ball. A head coach is responsible for everything. It’s a responsibility Weis never had on a large scale until now.

If Weis was so great how come no one in the NFL wanted him? How come former defensive coordinator at New England Romeo Crennel got a shot with the Cleveland Browns while Weis was forced to the collegiate ranks?

Josh McDaniels eventually stepped into Weis’ role as offensive coordinator at New England and they didn’t miss a beat. Now look at what he’s doing leading the Denver Broncos.

What’s the point?

The point is Weis sucks. He isn’t a good coach, his team is overrated and he needs to be fired yesterday.

Ideally Weis should’ve been canned after his third season when he posted a 3-9 debacle two seasons ago. Notre Dame had no problem ousting Tyrone Willingham who posted a 6-5 record after his third season. Why was one guy canned and the other one wasn’t?

I will forever link Weis with Willingham. Weis is getting the opportunity that Willingham was never given. Unlike Willingham, Weis has gotten every opportunity to right the ship. Willingham was treated unfairly while Weis was catered to.

Willingham was horrible at Washington last year. There’s no excuse for a team to go 0-12. Such a dismal record is a direct reflection on the coach but that’s not the point: the point is Willingham wasn’t given the opportunity to turn things around at Notre Dame like Weis has gotten.

Karma will prevail.

Where’s the decisive “schematic” advantage Weis said his teams would have? People can continue to turn a blind eye to what’s really going on but I won’t. At the end of the day it’s about results and Weis hasn’t produced.

Frankly speaking, Weis hasn’t had a signature win in five seasons nor has he gotten the most out of his so-called great recruits.

Say as you wish, there’s no way Notre Dame will ever restore it’s once proud football tradition under the leadership of Charlie Weis. All due respect to Navy, but they are not a perennial power yet they handled Notre Dame fairly well.

The only dignified thing the Notre Dame administration can do is pull the plug on the Charlie Weis era.

The time has come to make a change. Weis must go!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Serena Williams wins Doha and secures No.1 ranking, will she play the Australian Open?


Serena Williams is assured of being the No. 1 player in the world after beating her big sister in the final of the WTA Championships in Doha, Quatar 6-2, 7-6 (7-4). Serena’s next formidable opponent could come from the tennis hierarchy as she now faces the possibility of not competing in the 2010 Australian Open.

Why?

The tennis establishment is trying to penalize Serena for something she’s already been sanctioned for. The Grand Slam Committee is considering punishing Serena for her outburst at last years’ US Open.
Here’s what went down at the US Open. Serena was defaulted from her semifinal match against eventual champion Kim Clijsters. Serena was serving 15-30 down in the second set when she was called for a foot fault.

Replays indicated it wasn’t a foot fault. Serena got very upset. She said the following to the lines person: “I swear to God I’m (expletitve) going to take this (expletive) ball and shove it down your (expletive) throat, you hear that? I swear to God!”

Serena was fined $10,500.00 for her actions. Since the incident she’s consistently apologized for her outburst. I guess to some that’s not enough.


Serena has played in events since the blowup but for some reason the Grand Slam Committee is still investigating the US Open incident. If the committee has its way it’s possible the No. 1 player in the world wouldn’t be able to defend her title in Australia.

The WTA Chief Executive Stacey Allaster recently stated, "It is under investigation. It is ongoing," Allaster continued, "It would be safe to assume a decision will be taken before year-end. Serena has acknowledged the incident as a mistake. It's something she's not proud of, and she's apologised for that."

What’s there to investigate? Why is the Grand Slam Committee making a big deal out what happened at the US Open?

To me this isn’t about an investigation. It’s about the tennis establishment trying to make an example of out of Serena Williams.

John McEnroe got defaulted from the 1990 Australian Open for viciously berating a tournament official. McEnroe has made a living off the “you cannot be serious” rant. He has a long history of berating officials. McEnroe still, at age 50, displays his childish antics on the senior tour.

Serena doesn’t have a have rap-sheet like McEnroe. Why is McEnroe embraced for being a jerk yet Serena is being scrutinized for a one-time incident?

Also, Serena recently posed nude for ESPN The Magazine. Some have said doing such a thing is bad for tennis. Haven’t other female tennis players posed in a provocative fashion? Was it bad for the sport when Anna Kournikova was posing in skimpy attire back in the day?

If Maria Sharapova had poised on the cover of ESPN The Magazine instead of Serena I’d venture to say there would be little if any scrutiny.

Serena has never been fully embraced by the establishment because she’s of a different breed. Even though she’s the No. 1 player in the world, won 11 Grand Slams, and made tons of money she will never gain full acceptance in the tennis world and a segment of white America because she’s African American.

Serena dominates a sport historically that’s catered to the white elite. She wasn’t raised in Beverly Hills at the country club.Serena is from Compton, California. When Serena berated the official at the US Open it was partly a reflection of the community in which she was raised.

Sad to say but American tennis would rather anoint a foreigner like Maria Sharapova as the face of tennis rather than Serena. Granted Sharapova is a great player and is attractive but her accomplishments fail in comparison to Serena’s. What Sharapova has that’s sometimes held against Serena is her white skin.

In short, Sharapova can make the connection because of her complexion.

I’ve covered a lot of tennis. It’s a wonderful sport but it clearly lacks diversity. From the front offices of the USTA, to the players, to the press box African Americans are clearly absent.

Part of the reason for the lack of diversity is directly attributed to institutionalized racism. The upper rungs of the tennis hierarchy clearly haven’t embraced the concept of variety being the spice of life.

If you take away Serena and Venus from tennis the tour would be lily-white: the same could be said if you Tiger Woods weren’t playing on the PGA tour. I think the USTA, WTA and ITF should utilize the star power of the Williams’ family and the charisma of Serena and Venus to take the game to the masses. Sadly, the latter won’t happen because people typically fear that which they don’t understand. It would require the rich powerful elite to constructively attack their ignorance, open their minds and embrace diversity for it to manifest.

The tennis hierarchy is merely perpetuating the lack of diversity by unfairly labeling Serena as an outcast who has a history of abhorrent behavior. Doesn’t it make sense to try understanding Serena rather than unfairly labeling and penalizing her?

What’s also critical is Serena speaking up herself. If she believes she’s being treated unfairly she needs to speak out. She’ll be labeled, fined and or suspended regardless.

But who cares?

The establishment will continue to attempt to make Serena an example of her regardless so why not speak out? She’ll still be the best player in the world and put butts in the seats right?

Stand tall Serena. Let us know how you feel.

Bottom line: the No. 1 player in the world should not be suspended from the Australian Open for an incident that’s already been handled. The ITF, the Grand Slam Committee, and the WTA need to get a clue and get some spice in their lives.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Are the Indiana Pacers too white?


The whitening of the Indiana Pacers continues. Now it’s extended beyond the court and into the front office. The Indiana Pacers recently fired Director of Player Personnel Mel Daniels. Reportedly Daniels had problems with the general manager, Larry Bird and head coach Jim O’Brien.


President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird issued the following before showing Daniels the door. "Mel was a great basketball player who helped make the Pacers a well-known basketball franchise. We wish him well."


Daniels has been involved with the Indiana Pacer franchise for the last 40 years. To be fired in this manner is simply classless by the organization.

With the firing of Daniels coupled with a roster that includes Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy, Josh McRoberts, Travis Diener, Jeff Foster and first-round pick Tyler Hansbrough one has to wonder if the Indiana Pacers are meticulously making the organization too white.

Are they?

The Pacers drafted Tyler Hansbrough with the 13th pick overall. Was he the best player available or the right type of player?

Hansbrough could surprise us like Michael Jordan did and become another Larry Bird. I don’t think so. Perhaps he’ll be a poor mans Kevin McHale. If he’s lucky he could have a journeymen career like Christian Laettner. Time will tell but I don’t think he will be the savior of the Pacer franchise.


Five years ago Jim Gray did an interview with Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Carmello Anthony and LeBron James. During the interview Bird issued the following about having white players in the NBA. “Well, I think so. I think so. You know when I played you had me and Kevin (McHale) and some others throughout the league. I think it’s good for a fan base because, as we all know, the majority of the fans are white America. And if you just had a couple of white guys in there, you might get them a little excited . . .”
Is race a factor here?

Sounds like it to me.

What Bird suggested has some level of practicality from an economical standpoint. It’s a fact the vast majority of the fans are white. But where do you draw the line between becoming too white as opposed to getting the best players to win irrespecitve of the fan base?

Bird played his entire career for the Boston Celtics. Boston has a history of treating African American players less than ideal. Just ask Bill Russell.

The Celtics had a stable of white players on those great teams Bird played on. There’s the likes of Jerry Schisting, Danny Ainge, Rick Robey, Chris Ford, Jim Paxon, Scott Wedman, and Bill Walton to name a few. But this isn’t the 1980’s. Times have changed.

Is Bird having a mid-life crisis as a front-office man in trying to rekindle his Boston days by whitening the Pacers?

Say as you wish, the Daniels firing, Birds statements about the fan base, and the racial composition of the team suggests there’s enough credence to assert race has played a factor in the recent descisions the organization has made.

Monday, October 26, 2009

ESPN analyst Steve Phillips suspended for alleged affair, should he be fired?


ESPN baseball analyst Steve Phillips has reportedly been suspended for a week amid allegations of an affair gone wrong with a 22-year old production assistant named Brooke Hundley.

Phillips, who is married, tried to keep his infidelity quiet but to no avail. Phillips recently decided to end his dealings with the young lady who invariably lost control. Burkes’ erratic, which included writing a letter to Phillips’ wife prompted him to get the police involved.

This situation reminds me of another ESPN baseball analyst who was unfairly accused of sexual harassment Harold Reynolds. Reynolds wasn’t suspended for a week like Phillips though: he was promptly fired for an incident which happened in 2006.

Why was Reynolds fired?

Reynolds was accused of sexual harassment because he gave a female production assistant “an improper hug” at an Outback restaurant. Charges were filed by the woman. Before any of the allegations could be thoroughly substantiated by ESPN Reynolds was gone with the wind after 11 years of service.

Reynolds issued the following to the New York Post after the 2006 incident, “This was a total misunderstanding. My goal is to sit down and get back. To be honest with you I gave a woman a hug and I felt like it was misinterpreted.”


As we know Reynolds ended up suing ESPN for wrongful termination. ESPN settled with Reynolds in June of 2008. After the settlement Reynolds issued the following, "My family and I are ecstatic," said Reynolds, the former All-Star second baseman. "This is a matter of principle. And I stood on principle and never wavered. All of my goals were met, and now I look forward to concentrating on the game I love."

Reynolds has since moved on to the MLB Network and doing a good job.

Based on how ESPN treated Reynolds without question Phillips should be history as well. Based on the evidence, including the note written by Burke and Phillips being suspended for a week suggests the allegations of infidelity are probably true.

How ESPN can give a man who cheats on his wife get suspended for a week while Reynolds was promptly fired for giving a woman a hug?

Does ESPN handle African American personalities differently than their white counterparts?

Apparently they do.

Anyone remember Stephen A. Smith? He once had it all. Smith had his own show called Quite Frankly in 2006. Up until several months ago Smith was doing radio, writing weekly for ESPN the Magazine. He was also doing NBA commentary, and appearing on Sunday morning on ESPN’s The Sports Reporters. But suddenly Smith was dumped like a bad habit. He was tripped of all that he amassed without reason.

How can someone who had so much fall so quickly?

Whatever happened to NFL analyst Sterling Sharpe and Jason Whitlock on ESPN The Sports Reporters?

In any event it will be very interesting to see how things play out in the coming days. ESPN will do their usual damage control, keep things quiet and slide Phillips back in the mix after some social engineering of course. It will be just like the Golf Channel did with Kelly Tilghman after her bonehead “lynching” statement about Tiger Woods a year ago.

In short, it looks like Phillips will get to do what Reynolds wasn’t allowed and that’s to keep his job.

But stay tuned.

Mark McGwire hired as hitting coach while Barry Bonds remains a stranger to the game

The St. Louis Cardinals surprisingly made Mark McGwire their next hitting coach yesterday. Despite alleged steroid use the Cardinal family has lured McGwire out of hiding and welcomed “Big Mac” home with open arms.

Ever since his career ended in 2001 McGwire has been in extreme incognito mode. The only significant appearance he’s made was when he pulled a Fred Astaire and danced around the question of whether he took steroids as he stood before Congress March 17, 2005.

This is obviously a ploy to get the Paul Bunyan look a like into the Hall of Fame. Giving McGwire a job puts him back in the limelight. It also allows him a chance to subliminally seduce writers into forgiving him with his mere presence.

Remember Alex Rodriguez lying on national television about taking steroids in an interview with Katie Couric? During spring training he called a press conference and kind of apologized for lying about his steroid use back in 2003 while a Texas Ranger.

We don’t remember that now. We talk about A-Rod in glowing terms these days. We hear how he’s more relaxed, humble, and enjoying baseball. “A-Rod” is not “A-Roid” anymore because his New York Yankees are winning and he’s playing well.

Then there’s perennial black sheep Barry Bonds. Bonds has been hailed as the poster-boy for steroids even though he’s not been busted by baseball or in the court of law. We don’t even hear Bonds’ name in the media anymore.

Why?

Bonds was simply snubbed. He finds himself a stranger to the game he once played so well. Two seasons ago Bonds expressed interest in wanting to continue his career after the San Francisco Giants didn’t offer him a contract. His agent Jeff Borris notified teams of his desire to play in 2008. Not one team seriously considered signing one of the greatest players of all time who could still play.

Then there’s McGwire, whom Bonds surpassed for the single season home run mark in 2001, gets welcomed back into the game many thought he shamed.

Yes, both Bonds and McGwire have been linked to steroids. But without question when one here’s the word “steroid” and “baseball” we’ve been conditioned to think Barry Bonds.

Isn’t there a double-standard here? How come Bonds couldn’t get signed to play another season yet McGwire gets a job amidst his likely steroid use?

Here’s my take. Bonds got blackballed from the league with the blessing of Commissioner Bud Selig. Also, Selig and the great Hank Aaron are good friends. We all know Bonds broke Aarons’ all-time homerun mark and Aaron isn’t exactly president of the Barry Bonds fan club. I think Selig put the word out on Bonds for teams not to sign Bonds.

Yes, collusion.

To add insult to injury the media simply stopped talking about Bonds as if he never existed. We know during his career Bonds didn’t necessarily endear himself to the media but give me a break. He’s one of the best players of all time.

With Selig’s possible endorsement of teams ignoring Bonds coupled with the Medias intent to neglect Bonds he’ll stay out of site and out of mind.

Does race play a factor here?

Yes, but it’s not the only factor. There’s been a clear double-standard with respect to how the media has treated Bonds as opposed to McGwire. It’s also an issue of fairness.

How else can it be explained why Bonds has been snubbed from playing yet McGwire rises from the dead and lands a coaching position?

Another interesting note is this: McGwire is being hired as a hitting coach. How can a player who has a career batting average of .263 teach someone anything about hitting? McGwire was a juiced slugger, not a great hitter.

Hal McRae was fired to make room for McGwire. McRae batted .290 over 18 years in the Major Leagues he also had two stints as a manager. Seems McRae would know more about hitting than McGwire. But since St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa and McGwire are buddies from their Oakland days I guess McGwire’s hiring was a matter of taking care of your own.

In being objective the Cardinals organization can hire who they wish. It’s their money. But it’s about an issue of fairness. If Bonds and McGwire are in similar situations with respect to alleged steroid use one shouldn’t be embraced back in baseball while the other is purposely kept out.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Charlie Weis: Has the time has come to show Weis the door?


Though the final score was 34-27 it doesn’t show how thoroughly the Notre Dame Fighting Irish was dominated throughout most of the game by the USC Trojans. The Trojans came from the sunshine of California to frigid weather in Indiana to a once Golden Dome and claimed another victory.

The tough-talk from the “Great White Hype” surely hasn’t translated into victories hasn’t it?

Yesterdays loss brings head coach Charlie Weis’ record to 0-5 against the Trojans. Has the time finally arrived to show Weis the door?

Weis hasn’t won a meaningful game since he’s been at the helm. Weis softened his schedule to a point this year where he’d really had a one game that meant anything which was against USC. True to form Weis’ Irish lost the game like most knew they would.

So what’s the excuse now?

Weis was brought in to restore dominance to a once proud institution of higher learning with a tradition of playing great football. The Irish now sport a 4-2 record. Looks good on paper but they just got exposed for how good they really are. The Trojans did what Michigan St and Washington should have done to the Irish. In all likelihood the Irish should’ve been at least 2-3 heading into this the USC game.

Here are some facts:

The Irish are 1-16 against ranked teams in the last three years.

Weis surely isn’t doesn’t compare to Knute Rockne.

Weis’ team is 1-10 against teams that have ended the season ranked the last three years.

Weis surely is no Frank Leahy.

Including their loss to the Trojans the Irish have compiled a 14-16 record under Weis in their last 30 contests.

Weis certainly is no Ara Parseghian.

Weis came to the Irish five seasons ago stating they’d have such definite “schematic” advantage over other teams. The self-anointed guru hasn’t lived up to the hype even though he’s been given every opportunity to right the ship unlike Tyrone Willingham.

After three seasons both Willingham and Weis had virtually identical records yet Willingham was fired: who is to say if Willingham was given a fair shake that he couldn’t have done better?

Everyone is so quick to praise Weis and his recruiting but recruiting means nothing unless the players execute. In my opinion Willingham got more out of less talented players than what Weis has gotten from his so-called excellent recruits.

Weis should be taken to the gallows. Weis stinks as a coach and he should’ve been fired after his 3-9 season when he set records for losing. But no, he incredibly was given the benefit of the doubt.

I know it’s very hard to be objective about things we hold dear to our hearts. But what’s it going to take to get a semblance of objectivity Irish fans?

So, what’s the excuse going to be now? How will the Irish faithful spin why Weis should stay now?

The time has come to get a real head coach. Try to lure Jon Gruden out of the Monday Night Football booth. How about throwing some big money at Urban Meyer? What about getting Lou Holtz back? He still bleeds green. He even proclaimed at the beginning of the season the Irish would be playing Florida in the BCS bowl after they go undefeated right?

How funny.

Bottom line: the once proud cathedral of college football known as the Golden Dome has been downgraded to bronze under the Charlie Weis era: so much hype, so much talk, but not enough wins.

Monday, October 12, 2009

NFL players speak out as Russ Limbaugh seeks ownership of St. Louis Rams


Recently several NFL players have been very outspoken against Russ Limbaugh becoming an owner in the NFL. Players have suggested they’d never play for an owner who has racist attitudes towards African Americans.

New York Jets linebacker Bart Scott stated the following about Limbaugh, “It’s an oxymoron that he criticized Donovan McNabb,” Scott said. “A lot of us took it as more of a racial-type thing. I can only imagine how his players would feel. I know I wouldn’t want to play for him. He’s a jerk. He’s an (expletive). What he said (about McNabb) was inappropriate and insensitive, totally off-base. He could offer me whatever he wanted, I wouldn’t play for him……I wouldn’t play for Rush Limbaugh. My principles are greater and I can’t be bought.”

Then there’s defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka of the New York Giants. Kiwanuka was very forthright about his feelings about Limbaugh. He stated, "All I know is from the last comment I heard, he said in (President) Obama' America, white kids are getting beat up on the bus while black kids are chanting 'right on,'" Kiwanuka told The Daily News. "I mean, I don't want anything to do with a team that he has any part of. He can do whatever he wants, it is a free country. But if it goes through, I can tell you where I am not going to play."

Kiwanuka continued, "I am not going to draw a conclusion from a person off of one comment, but when it is time after time after time and there's a consistent pattern of disrespect and just a complete misunderstanding of an entire culture that I am a part of, I can't respect him as a man."

As the time grows nearer to a decision being made on Limbaugh buying the St. Louis Rams I’m sure there will be more comments in the coming weeks.

It was very refreshing to see athletes with a level of consciousness to make their true feelings known. The vast majority of African American athletes fear speaking out on controversial topics. Typically the brighter the star shines the less likely the athlete will speak.

Mega-stars like Tiger Woods, Derek Jeter, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant have steered clear of taking stands on anything. Today’s stars armed with the contracts, endorsements and commercial deals fear speaking out because their corporate entities: mere puppets who fear rocking the boat when the boat needs to be rocked.

Why does the African American athlete largely remain silent on controversial topics like racism?

Don’t give me age as an excuse in LeBron’s case. A 20-year old Cassius Clay began running his mouth about the social inequities in society and sport during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, so did young warriors like Jim Brown, Bill Russell, and Jackie Robinson.

Don’t use ignorance as an excuse in Kobe’s case. We now have an African American president. Any idiot would know this has never transpired in a country that’s historically thrived on racism. It’s a big deal because of the level of oppression African Americans historically have endured because of social, political and economical inequality.

Don’t use “we’ve come so far” as an excuse for Tiger and Jeter. Yeah, the African American athlete has money, large homes, and luxurious cars. But do they know how they got those things?

African American warriors from back in the day spoke out, endured Jim Crow and sacrificed their well-being in society and sport so the athletes today can have a level playing field. The African American athlete had to do more than play their sport. They had to battle the ugliness of racism while being expected to perform at a high level.

Jim Brown ran the ball with passion in front of 80,000.00 cheering fans in Cleveland in the 1950’s and 1960’s but after he showered and shaved he was expected to abide by “separate but equal” as a man. Could you imagine the dual contradiction of being cheered as an athlete but disrespected as a man because of skin color?

African American athletes need to speak out and study their history. African American athletes need to unite like they did in the 1960’s to thwart the efforts of divisive people like Limbaugh.

Let’s look at this situation on the flip side. There could be racist owners right now in the NFL. They could just keep their feelings under wraps and not be vocal about it. Having racist tendencies and keeping them out of harms way is one thing but acting on them is another thing.

Limbaugh has consistently made his feelings known about how he feels about African Americans. In a league that’s approximately 75 African American it wouldn’t be wise to have a devout racist as an owner in the NFL.

The time has come to take the ball and run: African American coaches, players and journalists need to speak out to keep a devout racist like Limbaugh out of the NFL where, if he’s allowed in, will do more harm than good.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Rush Limbaugh wants to become an NFL owner, is this a good idea?


Rush Limbaugh wants to become the owner of the lowly St. Louis Rams. Yes, you read that correctly.

Are you kidding me?

How can the NFL allow someone like Limbaugh to own a team when he’s against all the great concepts that American sports stand for? Sports are about inclusion, harmony, teamwork, and rallying around a common goal.

Should someone who is divisive be allowed to become an NFL owner?

Limbaugh is a flaming conservative racist who doesn’t have high regard for African Americans in society or sport. It would be a serious conflict of interest for the NFL to allow a devout racist to become owner of a franchise where approximately 75 percent of the leagues players are African American.

If I were a player I wouldn’t play for St. Louis Rams if Limbaugh was an owner. If I became a free-agent and they offered me the moon I wouldn’t play for the St. Louis Rams. In short, there wouldn’t be any set of circumstances where I’d associate with a franchise with a flaming conservative racist as my boss.

Limbaugh has made racial comments about President Obama, African Americans in general, and athletes. Remember in 2003 Limbaugh stated the following regarding Donovan McNabb on ESPN Countdown? "I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well,'' Limbaugh said. "There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."

Remarkably analysts Michael Irvin and Tom Jackson for whatever reason didn’t catch the racist comments nor responded to them. At the time even Donovan McNabb stated someone should’ve at least weighed on Limbaugh’s comments. "I'm not pinpointing anyone," McNabb said. "I'm a Michael Irvin fan, Steve Young fan and Tom Jackson. But somebody should have said something to the race issue."

McNabb is correct. Irvin and Jackson should’ve been sensitive to what was said. But more importantly ESPN shouldn’t have hired Limbaugh to begin with. What does Limbaugh know about football? Has he ever played? Ever coached? No. But ESPN decided to get into bed with a racist to tap into Limbaugh’s huge radio following. Then after the voices grew louder Limbaugh was allowed to peacefully resign.

If Limbaugh is allowed in the NFL it would send a bad message. Having Limbaugh in the NFL is would be like having the slave-master overseeing his property from his luxury suite. It would be reminiscent of slave masters watching African slaves labor for their masters in the fields on southern plantations centuries ago.

Yes, I believe in capitalism. I believe in freedom of speech in all its forms. But I don’t condone racism, blatant or otherwise. Having Limbaugh involved in ownership will send the wrong message to a country that on some level, is attempting to move towards inclusion.

African Americans have more opportunities in the NFL than ever before as players and head coaches. But African Americans have never become predominate owners in the NFL. There have been attempts by African Americans to acquire a team. Back in the day even the late great Walter Payton assembled a group to buy a team but was turned away. There have been African American groups since who’ve tried to acquire NFL teams have been snubbed. Whether it was a lack of capital or being outbid I don’t know. Bottom line: it hasn’t happened. Personally I think it’s a matter of opportunity rather than lack of capital or being outbid.

It would be a travesty to turn away African American or other so-called minority groups and allow a racist to become an NFL owner. This would be a perfect opportunity for the players to make a stand. Put their collective dollars where their mouths are. Together they can make enough noise to where it would hurt the NFL’s pocketbook which will make Limbaugh retreat to his radio show.

Also, African American players and those whites who are against racism should never play for or against a team that’s subscribes to racist ideology. Sports are about inclusion, teamwork, rallying around a common goal and togetherness. How can the NFL seriously consider allowing a man who is against the latter concepts to own a team?

Current ownership would ultimately have to allow Limbaugh into their circle. It will be interesting to see how that vote goes down. If it comes to that I hope the NFL and current owners do the right thing instead of what’s profitable for once.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Braylon Edwards punches friend of LeBron James, what’s going on in Cleveland?


Let’s see. This past summer the Cleveland Cavaliers were picked by many experts to win the NBA Championship last season. Instead they got beat in the Eastern Conference Finals by the Orlando Magic. No LeBron versus Kobe. A dejected LeBron James stormed off the court and acted like a sore loser instead of being humbly professional.

Then there’s Cleveland wide receiver Donte Stallworth, who gets hammered in Miami Beach and kills a man who was crossing a busy street in the wee hours of the morning. Stallworth was partying with teammate Braylon Edwards before the unfortunate incident took place. Now Stallworth sits at his place on house arrest.

Last week, after a woeful baseball season Cleveland Indian manager and Fort Wayne, Indiana native Eric Wedge gets a pink slip from management because the team wasn’t able to live up to expectations.

Days ago I witnessed the Cleveland Browns drop an overtime game to the Cincinnati Bengals putting their record at 0-4. Head coach Eric Mangini was brought in to right the ship after a 4-12 season in 2008. His discipline doesn’t seem to be working out too well. Some fans are calling for owner Randy Lerner to oust Mangini already.

Finally there’s Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards. After not catching a pass in the 23-20 loss to the Bengals he was out with teammates Monday morning at a Cleveland night club. He engaged in a verbal altercation with Edward Givins who is a good friend of LeBron James. As the argument got heated Edwards reportedly hit Givins giving him a black eye and a cut lip.

What’s going on in Cleveland? Is there something in the water?

This is Givins take on what transpired with Edwards, "After the club closed, I was outside greeting and saying goodbye to people. Braylon comes up and started saying things, degrading me," Givens told the Plain-Dealer. "He said if it wasn't for LeBron [James] or the Four Horsemen, I wouldn't have what I have, nor would I be able to get girls. Everyone knows Braylon has a problem with LeBron. So I had to speak up for myself. The conversation started to escalate. As some of his teammates started to pull him back, he punched me. I have a black eye and a cut. I'm not a violent guy.”

Givins continued, "As long as I've known Braylon, I've allowed him and his friends to come into our events free of charge. Whatever jealousy he has with LeBron, he felt he needed to take it out on me."

After a Cavalier practice yesterday LeBron stated the following to the Associated Press, "I've never crossed paths with Braylon before, but it seems like there's a little jealousy going on with Braylon and me and my friends. I have no idea why. I've never said anything to Braylon at all. But for him to do that is very childish. My friend is 130 pounds. Seriously. It's like hitting one of my kids. It doesn't make sense." Are you kidding me? This is the epitome of childishness. It makes little sense that situations like this transpire.

Here’s my take. If there is jealousy on Edwards’ part it should be squashed. I can see if Edwards was one of the top receivers in the NFL and helping the Browns make the playoffs but that hasn’t happened.

Bottom line, Edwards is a mega-millionaire who hasn’t produced. If he’s jealous of LeBron perhaps he should translate that energy into catching more balls and scoring more touchdowns.

In 2007 when quarterback Derek Anderson was the prohibitive starter Edwards caught 80 balls for 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns. Excluding 2007 Edwards has caught only 12 touchdowns in the other four years of his career. He entered the Bengals contest with 10 catches and left with the same amount because he didn’t catch any.

Perhaps Edwards should have been traded instead of Kellen Winslow Jr.?

But let’s take this to another level. Edwards, like LeBron, are marquee African American athletes with huge platforms. They, and other athletes, can make a world of difference if they channeled their energies collectively. How about finding a cause and work together to provide more opportunities for the oppressed in society and sport?

I was fortunate enough to have a very brief conversation with the greatest Cleveland Brown of them all Jim Brown after the Sunday’s game. In his day such behavior that LeBron displayed after losing to the Orlando Magic and what Edwards exhibited by punching LeBron’s friend wouldn’t have happened.

In Browns day he was too busy fighting racism, taking stands, and assembling African American athletes to be model citizens and exude professionalism. Brown was doing this while being at the apex of his sport. I’m quite sure Brown didn’t endure the bitter cruelties for African American athletes to act like this. He, along with other athletic activists, created the opportunities for the African American athlete to have a level playing field in society and sport.

Many of today’s African American athletes are simply selfish. They worry about their money, image and contracts yet few really study history. They don’t even know who is responsible for them having the opportunities they have today.

Perhaps if Edwards and James worked together to rid societal ills they wouldn’t have time to be jealous, get in fights or act unprofessionally after playoff losses.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Cleveland Browns: Team plays well but can’t win, Mangini’s seat getting warmer


CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Browns fell to 0-4 after losing to the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 on their home turf in overtime. Despite the loss and playing their best game of the season it wasn’t enough to stop head coach Marvin Lewis and his Bengals from getting the win.

Browns quarterback Derek Anderson threw the ball well. He completed 28-46 passes for 269 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. Running back Jerome Harrison rushed for 121 yards on the ground. Muhammad Massaquoi caught 8 passes for 149 and the defense played better. Even with the marked improvement it wasn’t enough to win.

Some of the Browns faithful have requested owner Randy Lerner replace Eric Mangini. Probably not likely to happen to soon but if the Browns continue to lose Mangini’s seat will continue to get hotter.

Typically when there’s a coaching change organizations look to upgrade the franchise. Was Mangini the best guy for this job? Is Mangini doing a better job than the guy he replaced?

Shakespeare once wrote, “Romeo, Romeo, where art thou Romeo?”

Yeah, former head coach Browns Romeo Crennel finished 4-12 last season. He made some strategic mistakes last year but he did lead the Browns to a 10-6 record in 2007. Did Crennel really get a fair shake in Cleveland? One is left to wonder why Crennel wasn’t given at least another season to right the ship.

Was race a factor?

African American head coaches have won 2 of the last 3 Super Bowls. Even with the recent success of African American head coaches history has demonstrated they’ve sometimes operated on short a leashes. It shouldn’t be about race but in some cases it has. Remember when Rae Rhoades was hired as coach of the Green Bay Packers in 1999? In his only, I repeat, “only” season he went 8-8 and was fired.

In 1989 Art Shell was hired by the Oakland Raiders and compiled a 54-38 record before he was fired in 1994. With such a good record no other NFL team would give Shell another chance before the Raiders recycled him again in 2006. Interesting how Shell couldn’t get a look from another team yet Norv Turner and his current 77-91-1 record continues to get recycled.

Because of the success Bill Belichick has had in New England many forget he was head coach of the Browns from 1991-1995 where he compiled a 36-44 record. He had one winning season in Cleveland yet he was recycled and given time to show what he can do. And he has done just that.

Belichick’s protégé Eric Mangini’s first mistake was keeping the quarterback situation under lock and key. Instead Mangini’s “Art of War” tactics in keeping his starter a secret backfired.

Mangini’s second mistake was making Brady Quinn the starter for the season. Mangini succumbed to the pressure of the fans wanting to see Quinn. The Browns should’ve done the right thing instead of what’s popular amongst fans.

In the case of Anderson he’d demonstrated he can play at this level. In 2007 he quarterbacked the Browns to a 10-6 and had a pro bowl year. Last year he struggled at times but not enough to lose his job.

Where is Brian Sipe when you need him?

In closing, you can’t start out 0-4, have your players filing grievances against you and assert you have control of your locker room. If Mangini isn’t getting it done, get somebody in there that can. Fans want a franchise they can be proud of in knowing ownership and upper management is doing their best to provide them a winner.

Hopefully Randy Lerner will take heed of the message and act in the best interest of the organization and the fans.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

LeGarrette Blount: Is it too late to right a wrong?


There’s a flicker of hope that suspended Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount will play this season. Blount was suspended for the entire season after punching a Boise St. player Byron Hout a month ago. As Blount was walking off the field Hout taunted Blount who in turn decked him. After “the punch” all hell broke loose with verbal sparring from fans, players and the coaches. Blount was so angry he had to be restrained by security and teammates.

After Blount calmed down he promptly issued an apology in the locker room but it wasn’t enough. Public pressure all but ensured his fate was sealed. Many think Oregon head coach Chip Kelly pulled the trigger too quickly and made the wrong decision to suspend Blount for the season.

Is it too late to right a wrong here?

Kelly reportedly has had recent talks with Jon Gruden and Tony Dungy about Blount’s situation. Kelly outlined that Blount must take specific academic and behavioral steps if there’s a chance for him to play this season. It’s good that voices of reason got involved because Blount’s season shouldn’t have been taken away to begin with.

Many think Blount shouldn’t have a second chance while some think Blount was treated unfairly. I suggested initially when the story broke a month ago it would have been just to suspend Blount indefinitely or for half the season. Instead Kelly threw the book at him.

One must wonder why the possible change of heart. Why consider lifting Blount’s season-long suspension now?

Perhaps the talks with Gruden and Dungy set the proper atmosphere for level heads to prevail. But if Blout is allowed to play it certainly won’t be in the name of morality. If Blount plays again it will be because of the almighty dollar.

Going into this weekend Oregon is 3-1 with a big game coming up against USC later in this season. With the Trojans shocking loss to Washington and losing star running back Stafon Johnson to a freak weigh lifting accident the Ducks see an opportunity to sneak in the back door and win the conference. A rested Blount potentially running the rock with something to prove could only help the Ducks stay in the thick of the PAC-10 race and secure a solid bowl game.

But what about the instigator in this whole fiasco Byron Hout? Anyone remember him?

Hout is an often overlooked part in this whole equation. Hout hasn’t received any punishments nor lost any playing time. He’s been largely exempt from blame and suspension. Mainstream media is largely focusing on Blount’s actions instead of viewing the actions of Hout and the entire situation as it unfolded. Without question Hout should’ve been subject to disciplinary punishment as well. Blount was obviously provoked by Hout’s actions wasn’t he? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. I’m willing to wager if Hout had struck Blount Hout wouldn’t have been suspended for entire season.

You know the reason why.

In any event, my prediction is if Oregon continues to win heading into the upcoming USC game Blount will be allowed to play. He’ll simply be used as a tool to help the team win albeit for the wrong reasons.

Blount should be allowed to play because he’s doing the right things off the field. He’s obviously demonstrated remorse. Everyone deserves a second chance in most cases. It’s just not right to continue to hold Blount hostage for an error in judgment.

After all, it’s never too late to correct a wrong.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bruce Pearl’s racial remarks largely fly under the radar


Bruce Pearl utilized his stature as head basketball coach of the Tennessee Volunteers recently to raise money for charity. Pearl delivered a passionate speech to potential donors for charity. During his speech he resorted to the use of racial stereotypes to humor the crowd.
Here’s what Pearl stated, "I've got a tough job. I've got to put these guys from different worlds together, right? I've got guys from Chicago, Detroit. I'm talking about the hood! And I've got guys from Grainger County, where they wear the hood!" Pearl said. After a pause, he added, "That wasn't part of the script."

Pearl’s choice of words was rather poor. This country that has a ugly legacy of racism, lynching and hate. To use such remarks wasn’t necessary or warranted at a fundraiser.

Of course damage control quickly ensued. Here’s Pearl’s scripted apology, "This morning while speaking at a private kick-off event for a great organization that benefits many local charities, I made a statement in jest to describe the diverse group our staff recruits year-in and year-out. Unfortunately while I was trying to excite the crowd and encourage employees to give, I made an inappropriate joke. I certainly did not intend to offend anyone and I apologize to everyone, especially the people of Grainger County.”

When situations like this come up they should be used as “teachable moments.” Not like the farce meeting between Henry Louis Gates and President Obama at the White House. The Gates situation was such a hot-bottom topic that isn’t even talked about anymore. It’s been thoroughly swept under the rug by the media with nothing ventured and nothing gained. Just the way a segment of America wants it.

It’s not right to resort to racial stereotypes in order to satisfy your quest to raise money. How about stating the following, “I have athletes on my team come from a diverse background that I must coach and manage. I have African American athletes from urban America and I have white athletes who come from rural America. We have to work as a team, learn from our individual differences and function as a unified group.”

How is that? You get the same point across yet delivering it in a more appropriate fashion.

Objectively speaking it doesn’t appear Pearl was intending to use his platform to intentionally harm but he did. He was trying to lighten the mood while attempting to persuade the audience to reach into their pockets

There lies the problem.

It bothers me to utilize a touchy topic like race in this fashion to raise money. We’ve not progressed far enough as a nation in order to publicly make jokes about race let along profit from it.

Those in the media, educators and activists should take moments like this and truly educate. But in order to do that something must happen first.

First of all you need diversity in the media. According a study conducted by eminent scholar Richard Lapchick last year 89.7 percent of sports columnists in the mainstream media are white. The vast majority of the athletes at the professional and collegiate level are African American. Hence when the African American athlete is interviewed or quoted they are in a room full of white writers and reporters. I know first hand because I’m often one of very few African Americans in press boxes and media rooms of the events I’ve covered.

There’s a need for more African American journalists to help educate and thwart some of the racially insensitive material that arises out of stupidity and ignorance. If Golf Magazine would’ve had diversity they wouldn’t have stupidly attempted to publish a cover with a noose on it. If the New York Post would’ve had diversity it wouldn’t have published a racist caricature depicting President Obama as a chimpanzee.

Remember the latter events?

Once a level of diversity is established more constructive dialogue can take place. Then when we look at Pearl’s statements they can be utilized to inform, awaken and educate. The way things are set up now a white figure makes insensitive racial remarks, they apologize, time goes by and it’s forgotten.

That’s the travesty. Nothing is ventured, nothing is gained, but more importantly nothing is truly learned.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Lack of African American college head coaches is a result of racism


One of the biggest travesties in American sport that flies under the radar in mainstream media is the lack of African American head coaches in Division IA football. Of the 119 head coaches in big time football just four are African American. Randy Shannon of Miami, Kevin Sumlin at Houston, Mike Locksley at New Mexico and Turner Gill Buffalo are it.

According to statistics gathered by Richard Lapchick at University of Central Florida 48 percent of the players and just 3 percent of the head coaches are African Americans.

Are you kidding me?

This is blatant racism yet few are willing to consistently put this matter in the forefront to ignite constructive dialogue that will induce change.

The few African Americans who have been extended opportunities to coach have been held to higher standards then their white counterparts. The preeminent example of latter is how Notre Dame handled Tyrone Willingham five years ago. After Willingham’s third year as head coach of the Irish he posted a 6-5 record and was fired. He’d compiled a 21-15 record in his three year tenure.

Notre Dame turned to the “Great White Hope” Charlie Weis to succeed Willingham. After three years Weis posted a 22-15 record-virtually the same as Willingham’s record. In Weis’ third year he set school records for losing in posting a 3-9 season. To date Weis’ record is 34-31.

Is his record worth the reported 4.3 million Weis earns?

No head football coach in Notre Dame’s history has been fired during their contract: interesting how Willingham was the first African American head coach in school history hired and the fastest fired.

Bottom line: Willingham was held to higher standard than Weis and race was a large component. It can’t be explained with objective logic how one coach (Weis) gets a vote of confidence for losing while the other (Willingham) gets canned for winning.

Then there’s Ron Prince who was hired by Kansas St. in 2006. Prince, like Willingham, was let go at after three seasons. Prince, like Willingham, coached his team to a bowl game in his first season. His team beat the Texas Longhorns in 2006 and 2007. Prince also compiled the second most wins in team history for first two years as head coach. But after a lackluster third year Prince was shown the door.

You want more?

When the Auburn head coaching job became available last year current Buffalo head coach Turner Gill emerged as the leading candidate. Instead Auburn turned to Gene Chiznik who posted a blazing 5-19 record in his last two seasons at Iowa State. Gill during the same time posted a 13-13 record (8-6 last season) and coached his team to its first MAC title and a bowl appearance.

Former Auburn basketball standout and NBA great Charles Barkley had this to say. “I think race was the number factor. You can say it’s not about race, but you can’t compare the two resumes (Chiznik) deserved the job. Out of all the coaches they interviewed, Chiznik probably had the worse resume.”

Furthermore Gill felt he didn’t get the job is because his wife is white. I guess some things in the South have progressed yet on some levels things seemingly remain the same.

I guess Gill couldn’t make the connection because of his complexion.

I was shocked yesterday when I viewed ESPN’s First Take. Analyst Stephen Bardo suggested the lack of African Americans head coaches isn’t a result of racism. Bardo suggests it has more to do with who you know.

Again, are you kidding me?

Knowing people, as Gill suggests is merely a component of institutionalized racism. It’s not “the” reason why African Americans are snubbed from coaching posts. The basis of racism is about having the ability to control and anoint which ultimately robs African Americans and the underprivileged of opportunities.

Perhaps Bardo is afraid to tell the truth or he just doesn’t know. Let’s take this matter from the root to the fruit.

America is based on capitalism. The rise of American slavery is the preeminent example of capitalism which was the birth of racism. From slavery until the present those historically who’ve controlled the economics have also controlled the legislation and socialization of this country. That power is invested in the hands of white males.

The same racist ideological framework exists in the realm of American sports. In collegiate athletics, in this case football, nearly half of the players are African American yet over 90 percent of the schools presidents and athletic directors are white. The boosters who give the money to the schools are largely white. The latter isn’t a matter of knowing someone. It’s a matter of the power structure accumulating wealth in society and sports to taking care of their own. Hence the ability to anoint and control is byproduct of racism.

Let’s cut to the chase. We know about the annual reports on race from Richard Lapchick. We know there is a lack of diversity in collegiate athletics and American sport across the board. Despite having an African American as president there’s still a lot of work to do in society.

So when will the real work commence?

Consistent public pressure needs to be applied on officials at the top starting with the NCAA. Next, the athletes, African American head coaches and African American journalists with platforms need to use them. African American writers need to use their keyboards for change instead of fostering racism by not attacking it. The African American journalists need to really say how they feel instead of reading off prepared scripts like President Obama. If the wallets of schools are threatened they’ll surely listen and change will follow.

The NFL needs to get involved as well. College football is a farm system to the league. Take the Rooney Rule and extend it the collegiate ranks now. Two of the last three Super Bowls were won by African American head coaches. Diversity can work.

Now is the time to stop regurgitating the obvious and take constructive action. We don’t need more statistics and studies, we need results yesterday!

In short, it’s about justice and equality of opportunity on levels of society and sports. Now is time for those who profess to be for change to really be about change.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Plaxico Burress in prison because of race and celebrity


Life is a funny thing. It seems like yesterday Plaxico Burress was dominating the Green Bay Packers cornerback Al Harris in the NFC Championship game. It seems like yesterday Burress was catching the winning touchdown and hoisting the Lombardy trophy in defeating the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. But today Burress awakened from spending his first night in prison as he begins the long journey of coming back from a place he really doesn’t belong.

After saying an emotional goodbye to his family in a Manhattan courtroom Burress was whisked off to Rikers Island prison to begin his 2-year sentence.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg made certain Plax nearly got the max when he made his public plea Burress should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. I’m sure Bloomberg is pleased with getting such a hardened criminal like Burress off the streets.

Wouldn’t you agree?

Say what you wish but Burress is not doing a prison bid because he’s a menace to society or a hardened criminal: he’s doing a bid because of his celebrity and his complexion.

Yeah, each state has its own laws but without question the New York gun laws are strict and biased. This law wasn’t set up not clean up the streets as professed by Bloomberg and other New York politicians. It was set up to target a distinct group of people. It was set up to put small-time drug dealers, African Americans and Latinos behind bars.

Burress accidentally shot himself people. He didn’t shoot anyone else. Burress is guilty of being careless with his weapon and not filing the proper paperwork with the state. That’s it. The latter essentially equates to stupidity. But does stupidity carry a 2-year bid in prison for shooting yourself in the thigh?

As a result Burress is in a place where he shouldn’t be. He’s not a true detriment to society. Does Burress have a track record of felony arrests or murder convictions? Did he kill a man like Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donte Stallworth did while driving drunk? Stallworth took a life and served 24 days in jail while Burress spent the first of many nights in prison for shooting himself.

American justice at it’s finest.

Common sense suggests Burress should have his freedom. Doesn’t it make sense utilize Burress in society instead of making him an example? Instead of using his celebrity and complexion against him let Burress go into neighborhoods and make difference instead of placing him in the company of hardened criminals.

Oops, sorry. That’s makes too much makes sense. At the end of the day it’s about what makes dollars and not what makes sense.

From the outset this country has functioned on a sanctimonious hypocritical system that’s been substantially more criminal that just. It’s been a system that’s been historically biased towards African Americans and other so-called minorities.

The New York gun law weren’t designed to clean up the streets of crime: this gun law was designed to victimize a distinct group of people and jam their rights. It was designed to treat the symptoms of long-standing problems in society while neglecting the real issues with having a biased legal system.

Want proof?

How can anyone trust a legal system that once classified a group as “three-fifths” of a human being? How can anyone trust a system where the author of the Declaration of Independence had slaves on his premises and fathered seven children from a female slave? Such truths are rarely discussed in public forums out of fear. These issues need to be addressed because precedents established yesterday have set the stage for the legal system we have today.

Bottom line: the streets of New York are not any safer with Burress behind bars.
Burress made a mistake by being negligent. He didn’t pose a serious threat to anyone did he? He didn’t kill anyone or himself. On some level Burress was punished for what could’ve happened instead of what actually happened.

But cut the cards as you wish. Burress was made an example of because of his celebrity and race-not for being a serious danger to society.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Milton Bradley: Suspended for the rest of the season by Cubs


It was just announced today embattled outfielder Milton Bradley will be suspended for the remainder of the season for comments he made about the Chicago Cubs organization. General Manager Jim Hendry made the call with the blessing of Cubs manager Lou Piniella. Piniella said, “Jim made the decision and I support it. I really do.”

The suspension resulted from comments Bradley recently made. According to the Daily Herald of Illinois Bradley stated, "You understand why they haven't won in 100 years here."

Bradley also suggested there’s a lot of negativity in the in the club house.
"I need a stable, healthy, enjoyable environment," Bradley told the newspaper, "There's too many people everywhere in your face with a microphone asking the same questions repeatedly.
Bradley continued, "Everything is just bashing you. It's just negativity."
The Cubs needed a scapegoat for underachieving and failing to make the playoffs.
The comments didn’t warrant suspension. It’s unfairly sending a subliminal message that Bradley was a disruptive force in the locker room and was the catalyst behind the team’s woes.

Then Hendry suggested the only thing negative was Bradley’s level of production. That’s an interesting comment. Perhaps we should delve a bit further here.

Is Bradley the reason why the Cubs failed miserably the last two seasons in the playoffs by being swept?

No, he wasn’t on the team.

Is Bradley the reason why the Cubs starting pitchers like Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden, and Randy Wells have been inconsistent all year?

Is Bradley the reason why Alphonso Soriano is batting just .239?

Is Bradley the reason why Aramis Ramirez and Derek Lee have been the only players that have showed any level of consistency this season?

It’s easy to point out one player and create the illusion that he’s the problem.
The Cubs believe Bradley needs to take a look in the mirror: that’s fine and dandy but perhaps the entire Cubs organization needs to look in the mirror as well.

Does race play a factor here?

Perhaps it does. Bradley has stated he’s been unfairly treated in part due to race. He’s been vocal about it. In the not too distant past Bradley stated he’s heard racial slurs hurled his way which prompted him to state, "All I'm saying is I just pray the game is nine innings, so I can be out there the least amount of time as possible and go home."

Why would he say that if there wasn’t at least some level of credence to it?

How many African Americans besides Derek Lee and Bradley are on the 40 man Cubs roster? Matter of fact just 10 percent of the players in the Major Leagues are African American. Then you have an African American in Bradley who is outspoken and he’s labeled. He’s been run out of town the way former Cubs manager Dusty Baker was unfairly let go years ago.

Bottom line: this isn’t about Bradley and what he said. It’s about an outspoken African American being labeled for saying something that had merit. He just didn’t go about it the right way. It’s about the Cubs organization creating an atmosphere that suggests Bradley was the reason why the Cubs stunk it up this year and didn’t live up to expectations.

It’s not about Bradley: it’s about the whole team. When will the Cubs take responsibility and put the blame where it really belongs?

The Cub faithful blame the goat for being forever cursed for their World Series drought; they blame the “Bartman” incident for losing six years ago; and now they blame Bradley for disrupting the team this year.

Does Bradley need to look in the mirror? Sure. But he shouldn’t be alone. The Cubs organization as a whole needs to look in the mirror as well and put the blame where it really belongs.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cubs: The fat lady hasn’t sung but she’s on deck


CHICAGO - The Chicago Cubs have played well as of late in keeping their slim hopes at a wildcard alive. After dropping two straight at home to the Milwaukee Brewers it may be too little too late.

What started out with so much promise and a possible run at the World Series has turned into a season of disappointment. Marred by injuries, inconsistent play, poor pitching and consistent lineup shifts the Cubs are winding down their lackluster season.

The Cubs entered yesterday’s final game of their 4-game series with the Brewers with a slim chance of gaining ground in the wildcard race. But after losing to the Brewers 7-4 it may be over soon. Even though the fat lady hasn’t begun to sing she’s certainly on deck warming up those vocal cords.

In front of 39,158 fans at Wrigley Field starting pitcher Randy Wells found himself with the same pitching woes which have plagued Cubs hurlers all season. Two days ago poor pitching by Rich Harden led to the Cubs losing to the Milwaukee Brewers 9-5. Harden lasted just 3 innings while giving up 5 runs on 71 pitches. Harden stated, “You try not to think about that, Harden said. “Either way I still have to go out and do my job and I didn’t do that today. I’ve got three starts left here, and I’ve go to get it done.”

Today Wells couldn’t find his control. He gave up 5 runs and totaled 5 walks in just 4 innings. Wells managed to pitch himself out of a first-inning bases loaded jam and luckily just gave up one run. Wells found himself in the same position in the fourth-inning but this time he wasn’t as fortunate. With two outs and the bases loaded outfielder Jody Gerut cracked a grand slam homerun making the score 5-2 in favor of the Brewers. A lead they never relinquished.

What’s with the Cubs?

The last two seasons the Cubs have put together summer winning streaks for the ages. They positioned themselves with strong pitching and hitting to go into the playoffs with high expectations. Despite those high expectations the Cubs came up disappointedly short in being swept in the opening round of the playoffs the last two years.

For a myriad of reasons they’ve not been able to right the ship this season.
But despite the erratic play, injuries and inconsistent pitching the Cubbies can still mathematically sneak into the playoffs. Two days ago Piniella suggested if the Cubs could put together a nice run they’d be in the thick of things. He stated, “Look, again, we still have 19 games to play (18 after today’s game). We’re on the outskirts, but we’re still there. If we put together a nice 5, 6-game winning streak from here on out, and you’d be surprised how quick you’re in it.”

But then Piniella sounded as if he’s packed it in by talking about next year as if this one is all but over. He said, “Just staying healthy, alone, would help immensely. I would obviously see this team here being very competitive next year.”

After yesterdays disappointing loss Piniella declined to come take his lumps in the media room. One has to wonder if he really wants to manage this team.

Coming down the stretch if the Cubbies can find some consistency with their pitching and get their bats going they can maybe live up to those expectations and make a run at a wildcard. They better start tonight as they travel to St. Louis.

But, as Cubs fans have been doing for just over a century they’ll probably have to wait until next year: add another season to the World Series drought.

But as Piniella suggested a winning streak can chance things around. Who knows, but if it’s going to happen it better happen quick. Even thought the fat lady hasn’t officially begun to sing she’s certainly on deck warming up those vocal cords.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Michael Jordan: Air Jordan lands in Hall of Fame, greatest ever?


Michael “Air” Jordan has finally landed where he rightfully belongs and that’s in the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield. But during his acceptance speech Jordan suggested it may not be over just yet. He implied he may come back at age 50. Jordan stated, “But one day you might look and see me playing the game at 50. Oh don’t laugh. Never say never. Because limits like fears are often illusions.”

If anyone can play in the NBA at age 50 it may be Jordan.

There’s no need to go into Jordan’s numbers. Everyone knows about the six championships, scoring titles, dazzling dunks and last minute shots. Everyone knows about the shoes, endorsements and how we all wanted “to be like Mike.” Why regurgitate the obvious. Let’s examine the intangibles. I’ve always admired Jordan’s lazar-like focus. He put his mind on a task and didn’t stop until he achieved it. Even when he tried baseball after his first retirement many deemed it a failure.

How?

Jordan put himself out there, chased a dream to find out if he could achieve it or not. Failing is never mounting an effort. Failing is not dreaming and taking action to bring out your vision to fruition. Failing is lip service without action.

So, how did Jordan fail?

On the basketball court many have anointed Jordan as the greatest of all time. The argument can be made and very strongly. I tend to gravitate towards those players who changed the game. Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and Wilt Chamberlain changed the game. The league installed rules to curtail their dominance. The same can’t be said of MJ.

There’s Oscar Robertson, who was as complete a basketball player as they come. He simply did it all. Robertson averaged a triple-double for three consecutive years during the 1960’s. I’d surely put Magic Johnson in the conversation as well.

What Jordan did was take advantage of those pioneers who set the table for him, market himself like know one else and win. Jordan took the spectacular talents of Connie Hawkins, David Thompson, and Julius Erving and extended them to greater heights. He cemented his legacy in basketball by winning championships, living a fairly clean life, and playing it safe off the court. Jordan’s electrifying play over his career along with protection from the media helped us think Jordan was a super-human dream.

In short, I don’t think Jordan is the greatest of all time but perhaps he’s the most important basketball player of all time.

It was recently suggested by ESPN’s Rick Reilly that Jordan’s number 23 should be retired league wide. It’s a nice gesture but I can’t go there and here’s why.

This question makes me think of Jackie Robinson’s number 42 being retired league wide. Robinson was a warrior who truly transcended a sport and a nation. He deserved to have his number retired for his efforts on and off the field in breaking athletic and social barriers that existed because of racism. Robinson integrated Americas Pastime in 1947 that ultimately provided opportunities for African Americans in society and sports.

Robinson lived through, played, and faced racism on a daily basis. Robinson sacrificed of himself knowing full well future generations would benefit and he wouldn’t: much like Curt Flood, Jim Brown and Muhammad Ali did. Without question Jordan, along with everyone else in society and sports, stands on the shoulders of many.

Outside of basketball Jordan hasn’t shaped or even attempted to mold a legacy with respect to activism. He’s a dormant enigma when it comes to social issues, speaking out and taking stands against injustice. Jordan has rarely acknowledged those who came before him in society and sports that made it possible for him to do his thing.

Having said that it’s not warranted that Jordan have his jersey retired league wide.

Too much is given much is expected. Jordan has meticulously kept his greatness neatly tucked within the confines of basketball. He wouldn’t dare speak out and take stands because that could mean losing some of his grace, fame and money. With respect to activism Jordan bought into the “keep your mouth shut” attitude. He was a master of it. It was an unspoken rule in the media to never disrupt this icon’s world with controversial questions. Therefore we the fans were induced to think Jordan was free of error and didn’t engage in indiscretions of any sort.

In the realm of American sport Jordan deserves all the accolades bestowed upon him. He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame and he may be the best of all time. I enjoyed watching him as an athlete and loved the way his mind worked. But to not utilize that platform to make changes around this country, speak out on controversial issues and provide direction in society is a shame.

Everyone in life has a choice in terms of activism, to speak or not to speak. Its obvious Jordan did lot of talking on the court with his play. It would’ve been nice to have that talk extend beyond the basketball courts he once thoroughly dominated.

But, as Jordan stated about coming back at age 50, “never say never.” I won’t hold my on him coming back or speaking out.