Dexter Rogers

Dexter Rogers

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.

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