Dexter Rogers

Dexter Rogers

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Why is ESPN turning the other cheek on Mike Greenberg’s ‘Martin Luther Coon’ slur?

I expected ESPN radio personality Mike Greenberg to at least address his “Martin Luther Coon” reference on air. That’s the least he could do since he made the comment on the morning of Martin Luther King Day.

I guess expectations are overrated huh?

I’m also quite perplexed that I’ve received feedback from some African-American readers suggesting Greenberg should get a pass. It’s being suggested Greenberg merely made a mistake and it was a “slip of the tongue.”


Wake up and smell the coffee. Stop trying to accommodate and fit in.

You African-Americans who think Greenberg’s “coon” comment was a mistake should brush up on the historical development of this country. I know some of you are so elated there’s an African-American in the White House you think racism is gone. You think racial slurs shouldn’t be addressed now since we’ve come so far right?

Anyway, let me break it down.

Mistake or not the word came out of Greenberg’s mouth. Millions of listeners heard it.
For Greenberg to have said “coon” it was on his mind. He said it clearly, kept on with his opening, and didn’t miss a beat.

Perhaps it was something Greenberg was thinking or discussing with his side-kick Mike Golic before they went on air. Perhaps he was reminiscing on what he and his buddies use to say back in the day when MLK day came around.

I’m left to assume here because there’s not been any on-air clarification whatsoever. But one thing I don’t have to assume is Greenberg clearly said “coon.”

ESPN has said nothing. I took the liberty of contacting ESPN. I wrote an email to Don Ohlmeyer. I certainly won’t hold my breath on getting a response.

Bottom line: ESPN and Greenberg not addressing this situation suggests its fine to call MLK a “coon.” It’s fine to make such a reference about a man who gave up his life for his calling.

It’s not fine on my watch.

Besides, if it were truly a mistake why didn’t Greenberg address the matter on his radio show? Since he made his “coon” comment on the air he should’ve clarified his stance on the air.

Greenberg was wrong for not clarifying his stance and ESPN is complicit by adopting such a cavalier attitude about this matter.

Many are too willing to give Greenberg a pass. For those of you merely think it was a verbal slip and shouldn’t be addressed that’s your opinion.

I think you know my stance.

ESPN refuses to acknowledge Greenberg's 'coon' blunder

Since ESPN nor Mike Greenberg took the liberty of acknowledging the "Martin Luther Coon" slur I took the liberty of contacting ESPN directly.
I sent the below email to Don Ohlmeyer. He is the ombudsman for ESPN:

Mr. Ohlmeyer,

Good afternoon. I'm seeking you out because of comments I heard from Mike Greenberg on his morning radio show on Jan. 18. Mr. Greenberg referred to MLK as "Martin Luther Coon King Jr." Video is provided in the below commentary so you can hear Mr. Greenberg's words for yourself.

Please read my perspective here:

I believe this is a situation that should be dealt with accordingly or minimum, acknowledged by your network. This can be a real "teachable moment" one way or the other.

I would like to set up an interview with you to discuss this situation. I think this matter should be discussed. The people should know what was said so positive dialogue can be initiated.

In closing I would like to hear from you regarding this matter. Whether it's a mistake on Mr. Greenberg's part or not this is a matter worthy of acknowledgement.

It would be greatly appreciated if I were dignified with a response.

Best wishes.

Dexter Rogers Email

Needless to say I've yet to hear anything from Ohlmeyer or anyone at ESPN.

I wonder why.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

ESPNs' Mike Greenberg refers to MLK as 'Martin Luther Coon.'

The host of ESPN’s morning radio show Mike and Mike in the Morning Mike Greenberg opened his show yesterday morning by referring the Civil Rights Activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as ‘Martin Luther Coon King.’

I think ESPN, Greenberg’s African-American co-workers and athletes should speak out and let the chips fall. Call for Greenberg’s job now!

Greenberg issued the following apology late yesterday evening: “I just came home from the Knicks game and found out about the mess that was created by my garbling a sentence on our show this morning; I apologize for not addressing it sooner."And I'm sorry that my talking too fast - and slurring my words - might have given people who don't know our show the wrong impression about us, and about me."

Greenberg continues, "I feel horrible about that, because nothing could be further away from who I am and what our show is about. I would never say anything like that, not in public, or in private, or in the silence of my own mind, and neither would anyone associated with our show, and I'm very sorry that my stumble this morning gave so many people the opposite impression.”

Sorry, Charlie. This isn’t about Greenberg “slurring” his words. It’s about him using a racial “slur” in referring to one of the great leaders of the last century as a “coon.”

There’s no way he should continue to work at an entity where he obviously lacks sensitivity and has racist tendencies.There’s no amount of damage control ESPN can put on Greenberg’s blunder.

For him to refer to MLK as a “coon” didn’t just evolve yesterday. For Greenberg to utter such a word it may be one he's likely used before. Also, if Greenberg would say such a thing on the air what other slurs has he uttered off air?

Remember when the Golf Channel’s Kelly Tilghman suggested Tiger Woods should be taken in a “back alley and lynched” two years ago? Tilghman issued a weak apology, and was suspended for a brief stint. Tiger didn’t speak up and the Golf Channel didn’t fire her.

Remember when Don Imus referred to members of the Rutgers womens basketball team as “nappy-headed ho’s?” Imus was suspended but months later he was back in the booth.

Who should step up and address the Greenberg situation? When will the line be drawn?

First off, ESPN should fire Greenberg. Issue a statement that insensitive remarks won’t be tolerated about a man who contributed so much to this country. It’s one thing to refer to MLK as a “coon” before millions of listeners: It’s another thing to do it on the day the country celebrates his legacy.

Secondly, those African-Americans who work for ESPN should make their feelings known. Stewart Scott, Mike Wilbon, Jalen Rose, Mike Tirico, J.A. Adonde and others should voice their opposition. If you face ridicule so what. If it weren’t for the likes of MLK you think you’d be where you are now?

Speak out and demand that some sort of action be taken now. If Greenberg refers to MLK as a “coon” what do you think he may feel about his African-American co-workers?

Lastly, African-American athletes should speak out. They should refuse to appear on his show until ESPN takes some sort of action against Greenberg. African-American athletes are the marquee draws in sport. Denouncing such comments would send a strong message.

ESPN and Greenberg are in likely damage control. They are finding a way to spin this situation in their favor and let it blow over. I don’t think so. African-American journalists and athletes with platforms should speak out and induce ESPN to do the right thing.

If MLK were alive I’m quite sure he wouldn’t let this blow over. Hence, why should those who who believe in King’s dream allow Greenberg to disrespect him on the day we celebrate his legacy?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Does the African-American athlete care about the legacy Martin Luther King?

As we celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. many things come to mind. I think of the sacrifices he made. I think of his dream of having everyone being judged on the “content of their character” rather than the color of their skin.

Though strides have been made we still have a lot of work to do. How far have we really come as nation along racial lines?

Does the African-American athlete even care about the Kings’ legacy?

The short answer is no.

A year ago the first African-American President of the United States was sworn in. It took a united effort for “the dream” of Barack Obama to manifest. In society African-Americans are experiencing more opportunities than ever before. In professional sports African-Americans are enjoying noted success on and off the field of play.

Just because the latter is true doesn’t mean we are where we should be as a nation.

I have a great amount of respect for MLK. He put his life on the line for something he believed in. He also lost his life because of his “dream” of having a society built on harmony instead of one being ruled by racism.

While King’s dream was noble the time has come to modify his dreams by converting them into goals. Once a goal is established you must construct a comprehensive plan of action.

The plan should be to totally reeducate America based on truth. The plan should be to teach the true development of this country so everyone can be on the same page. The latter would induce us to engage in open honest dialogue to foster potential harmony.

Also, African-Americans have to collectively unite and embrace one another. Those who have platforms like educators, professional athletes, entertainers and our president should lead the way.

With respect to the African-American athlete many are lost. They care little about the sacrifices leaders like King made. LeBron James said of Martin Luther King, “When you look up leader in the Webster’s Dictionary a picture of Martin Luther King should be there.”

What James suggests is true. But largely the African-American athlete remains silent on controversial issues and acknowledging those in society and sports who paved the way for their success. This complicit behavior stems from a lethal combination of ignorance and fear.

If it wasn’t for the likes of King a Tiger Woods wouldn’t be in the position of being the greatest golfer of all-time. If King didn’t “have a dream” it’s likely a LeBron James wouldn’t be embraced as the face of the NBA. Had King not put sacrificed his life African-American businessmen like Robert Johnson wouldn’t have the chance to own a team.

While I don’t totally embrace King’s philosophy on how to achieve harmony and equal rights I respect him to the hilt. He had a cause and stuck to it. He sacrificed his life because he dared to make his dream a reality.

The time has come to stop regurgitating quotes from King. It’s time to make his dream into a plan of action. The time has come to establish a comprehensive blue-print to truly make this country reach it’s potential.

In short, celebrate the man but modify and continue his plan.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Gilbert Arenas indicted on weapons charge: Will he serve time in prison?

Suspended Washington Wizard guard Gilbert Arenas isn’t cracking too many jokes these days. Arenas has been charged with a felony weapons charge. Arenas could face up to 5-years in prison but reportedly he’s negotiated a plea agreement.

What Arenas characterized as a joke hasn’t turned out to be so funny. Since the alleged gun incident with teammate Javaris Crittenton Arenas thought little about his fate. Now he’ll have plenty of time to contemplate his behavior since he’s no longer playing and may serve time behind bars.

Authorities received a warrant to search Crittenton’s apartment. The search didn’t yield a firearm. From the looks of things Crittenton hasn’t been hit with a suspension or charged like Arenas. Perhaps he’ll get off without much of a scratch. Until the investigation concludes we won’t know to what extent Crittenton was involved. But at least he kept himself out of the limelight unlike Arenas.

Arenas made himself a marked man. When he did his pistol skit prior the Wizards game against the Philadelphia 76’ers Arenas’ fate was sealed. Stern wanted the big fish and he got him. Arenas created the atmosphere necessary for Stern to contemplate suspending him because of his nonchalant behavior.

Even though I don’t agree with suspending Arenas indefinitely before the legal process ran its course I do believe he brought this situation on himself. Plaxico Burress is the poster-boy of what happens to professional athletes who fool around with guns. For Burresses’ stupidity in carrying an unregistered pistol in a night-club which discharged into his thigh, he was rewarded a 2-year prison bid for violating New York’s strict gun laws. Burress won’t be around for his family. He’s lost his team, money and his freedom.

Arenas has lost a lot in a short period of time as well. Whether he’ll be placed behind bars like Burress remains to be seen.Even though all of the facts have yet to be revealed it’s likely Arenas will not be playing basketball anytime soon. I wonder who will be back playing their sport first, Tiger Woods or Arenas?

Once the dust settles on this situation perhaps Arenas can stop acting like “goofy” child: Instead he can act like a professional family-man who happens to be a gifted athlete.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mark McGwire admits steroid use, back in baseball: What about Barry Bonds?

Mark McGwire confirmed what most already knew. He was juicing for a better part of a decade.After listening to his interviews with MLB Networks Bob Costas and ESPN I felt McGwire wasn’t totally honest. He suggested he used steroids to get healthy and deal with injuries.

Yeah right.

He took the juice to give himself a competitive edge over the other athletes who played by the rules.Period.McGwire came forward because he wanted back in baseball. This whole scene was planned and scripted by Tony LaRussa and Bud Selig. They agreed to put the cart before horse by getting McGwire a job, having him lie low, and have him come forward later. McGwire was five years too late. Matter of fact he should’ve come clean even before his blunder before Congress. Fans would’ve forgiven him and moved on by now.

Is this just a ploy to get McGwire back in baseball and eventually to the Hall of Fame?Yes.I don’t think McGwire should be a lock with or without steroids for the HOF. He was an average hitter. His career batting average of .262 doesn’t just jump off the charts. He played average at first base. He’s a power-hitter. He’s beefed up Dave Kingman. That’s it.

My take is McGwire will get into the Hall of Fame at some point. Why?Cut the cards as you wish, but standard testing wasn’t implemented until 2005. It’s not fair to go back into history and try to nullify and alter statistics. It is what it is. People will know McGwire cheated. He’ll have to live with the shame.

Now there’s Barry Bonds. Interesting how Bonds, at age 45, can still play yet no team has expressed interest in his services the last two seasons. Did Bonds take steroids? I can’t say for sure. All of the facts aren’t in and Bonds has yet to speak. Selig and Major League owners have already made their minds up on Bonds. Major League Baseball and the owners have turned their collective backs on Bonds.

But McGwire has received different treatment. He’s back baseball BEFORE he admitted to taking steroids.Selig even endorsed McGwire taking steps to get back into baseball. Selig, LaRussa and McGwire can make such connections because of their shared complexions. Bonds cannot.

Bonds is one of the greatest players of all-time while McGwire was a mere slugger. It’s not even close between the two. Selig doesn’t like the fact Bonds broke his friend Hank Aarons’ career homerun record and he didn’t like him breaking McGwires’ single-season record.

Will Bonds ever be embraced back into baseball?I say no. He won’t get back on the field or coach because of his arrogance, race and Major League Baseballs’ colluded effort to keep Bonds out of baseball.

Bottom line: McGwire is back drawing a paycheck from the game he cheated. Meanwhile Bonds didn’t get to retire-Selig and Major League Baseball owners did that for him.