Dexter Rogers

Dexter Rogers

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Terrell Owens bashes NFL for treatment of Michael Vick

T.O. speaks! And surprisingly it was highly relevant. Terrell Owens recently spoke on Michael Vick’s recent conditional reinstatement and suspension. Owens suggested Vick has paid his debt to society and he shouldn’t have been punished further by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Speaking at Buffalo Bills training camp the wide receiver recently issued the following on Vick:
"I think the way the commissioner is handling it is unfair to Michael Vick," Owens said. "I think he's done the time for what he's done. I don't think it's really fair for him to be suspended four more games. It's almost like kicking a dead horse in the ground.”

Owens continued: "A lot of the guys around the league need to speak up. I think the players' union needs to step in because the guy's already suffered so much, and to add a four-game suspension onto a two-year prison sentence, I mean, that's ridiculous."

Also, after his press conference Owens suggested Goodell should try spending 23 months in prison and see how it feels.

Halleluiah! There is hope!

When Owens spoke out I was pleasantly surprised that an African American athlete used their platform for something other than self-promotion and to appease to white corporate America. Finally, someone said something that was relevant and timely and yet it the media didn’t give it much attention.

Gee, I wonder why.

No, Owens didn’t bash anyone like he did Donovan McNabb five years ago for not being in shape. No, Owens wasn’t surrounded by reporters as he ridiculously trained in his drive in army fatigues before ultimately signing with the Dallas Cowboys. Nor was Owens crying at a press conference because of the media’s harassment of former teammate Tony Romo.

I can’t believe it. NFL wide receiver turned reality show star Terrell Owens finally did something of relevance off the field. Not only did Owens speak out in support of Vick he challenged the NFL hierarchy (Commission Roger Goodell) and didn’t shy away from his words.
I’ve long called for the African American athlete to get involved: I’ve long called for modern-day stars to use their platforms for other than self-promotion. It would be nice if Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LaDainian Tomlinson and others should put their money where their collective mouths are.

I’m not holding my breath.

Long gone are the Jackie Robinsons’, Muhammad Alis’, Jim Browns’ Curt Floods’ and the Bill Russells’. The latter athletes along with others have made it conducive for the modern-day star to be privileged. No, Owens didn’t speak against the ugliness of racism, nor did he assemble African American athletes like Jim Brown did for Muhammad Ali in 1967. But it’s a step in the right direction if other athletes would simply speak.

Without question there’s a collective fear amongst African American athletes to go public with controversial topics. Rarely will they divulge in public what they’ll utter in secrecy. Usually the athlete will subscribe to the social script and keep quiet or offer nothing. But for a fleeting moment at the Buffalo Bills training camp Owens kept it real.

Personally I’ve never met Owens. Some of his behavior in the past can be considered rather ridiculous. But in the grand scheme of things what has he done besides want to win? The facts are he’s never been in trouble with the law, doesn’t smoke or drink, never been convicted of a crime, and he’s one of the best receivers in the NFL.

Right or wrong?

We’ll see how bad the Cowboys will miss him this year in their new billion-dollar stadium.
I’ve always felt to much is given much is expected. Those in privileged positions should lift as well as climb. But sadly the more money the professional athletes earn the less they are to speak out on issues such as racism and inequality. I was beginning to lose hope until Owens stepped up.

The Owens moment came and went without a lot of media attention. Had Owens shot someone (or himself), been accused of assault, or caught taking steroids the media would’ve feasted on the coverage. But because he spoke out against the establishment, called for players to unite and speak out against inequity the coverage was squashed.

Owens demonstrated he can be relevant and provide substance to situations when needed. Kudos to Terrell Owens for doing something other African American athletes are afraid to do.
Speak out.

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