Dexter Rogers

Dexter Rogers

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cam Newton Is No. 1 in Carolina's Panthers Book: Let the Scrutiny Begin

It’s a done deal. 

The Carolina Panthers selected Cam Newton with the No. 1 pick in this years NFLdraft.
Newton caps a tumultuous year off the field but a superlative one on it.

Off the field Newton was the subject of persistent media scrutiny as he guided the Auburn Tigers to the BCS National Championship and an undefeated season.

Newton’s father, Cecil Newton, was believed to have brokered a deal for his son to play-for-pay at Mississippi State before he eventually settled on attending Auburn.  The media obviously feasted on the story.

Newton was scrutinized for his questionable character flaws and his fathers’ actions.  The media talked about an incident when Newton was at University of Florida he allegedly stole a lap top.  He was also accused of academic fraud while at Florida.

Newton moved on from Florida and played Junior College football where he guided Blinn College to the Division II National Championship in 2009.

As the 2010 college football season began Newton was not on the radar for winning the Heisman Trophy let alone leading Auburn to a national championship.   As the season went on Newton shined.  But as his star continued to shine brightly throughout the season so did the media scrutiny.

Despite the persistent bashing from the media and the questions about his past Newton blocked out all of the negativity and focused on winning.

When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called Newton’s name as the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL draft he became just the second player to win a national championship, the Heisman Trophy and be selected the top draft pick in a one-year span.  The first to do it was Notre Dame’s Leon Joseph Hart in 1950.

Now all Newton has to do is prove his critics wrong again by competing at the highest level and prove he belongs.

I’ve heard the likes of ESPN Todd McShay and others blast Newton.  McShay suggests he has physical talent yet lacks the intangibles to lead effectively in the NFL.  McShay has also suggested Newton’s work ethic may wane once he gets paid.

Blaine Gabbert and Jake Locker did not receive such scrutiny from McShay.

I wonder why.

Anyway, Newton proved his doubters wrong before and I think he will do it again.

Some suggest the way Newton has been characterized in the media leading up to the draft was outright racist.  Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon suggested recently suggested the following regarding Newton: “A lot of the criticism he’s receiving is unfortunate and racially based,” Moon continued.  “I thought we were all past this.  I don’t see other quarterbacks in the draft being criticized by the media or fans about their smile or called a phony.  He’s being held to different standards from white quarterbacks.  I thought we were past all this stuff about African-American quarterbacks, but I guess we’re not.”

What Moon suggested about Newton being scrutinized due to race is true in my opinion yet I don’t think it is quite as blatant as in the past.

History reveals there was once a time African-American quarterbacks out of college were not given opportunities to play quarterback in the NFL.  Simply put they were believed to be mentally inferior to whites.

Historically such ignorance has lead many African-American quarterbacks to be switched to other positions.  This ultimately reinforces the negative stereotype African-Americans are great athletes but don’t fare well in the ultimate thinking position of quarterback in the NFL.

Let’s look at the facts: Newton is a winner who plays a brand of football that’s not the prototypical style of play.  Without question Newton has both the physical and mental capability to be a franchise quarterback and revolutionize the position.

He can be characterized as a bigger stronger Michael Vick with notable power.

While the likes of McShay and other haters will continue to scrutinize Newton’s ability I’m quite sure he’ll continue to prove his doubters wrong despite the criticism.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cincinnati Bengals: Why Is Carson Palmer Getting a Media Pass?

Why is Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer is getting the royal treatment from the media?

The embattled quarterback has consistently harped he wants out of Cincinnati.  Palmer has stated if he’s not traded he’ll simply retire.

Where’s the media outcry?

Why is the story flying so far under the radar?

I will give you part of the reason: Palmer’s trade demands are not deemed serious news due to the current media composition.

According the Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sports, 94, 88, and 89 percent respectively of the sports editors, columnists, and reporters are white.

African-Americans account for 1, 6, and 8 percent respectively of the sports editors, columnists, and reporters in sports media.

African-Americans account for 68 percent of the players in the NFL.

Facts indicate the vast majority of the sports coverage we digest comes from a white vantage point.
Clearly there is a glaring disparity between the number of African-Americans covering the NFL and those who play the game.

Point blank, if Carson Palmer were African-American I’d venture to say he’d be scrutinized more in the media.

Late last year a Q-Score rating was issued which measured the most disliked athletes in sports.  The top six most hated athletes on the list were African-American.

Palmer’s teammates Chad Ochochinco and Terrell Owens were voted in the top six.

If either Ochocinco or Owens were demanding trades do you think the story would be covered more persistently than what Palmer has experienced up to this point?

Based on Palmer’s performance last year I don’t think he’s in a position to demand anything.  Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble but Palmer is not a top-flight quarterback in the NFL.  Ever since he made the Pro-Bowl in 2005-2006, Palmer’s quarterback rating has plummeted.

The past six seasons Palmer’s passer rating is as follows:

2005: 101.1
2006.  93.1
2007.  86.7
2008.  69.0
2009.  83.6
2010.  82.4

Palmer missed 12 games of 2008 season due to a knee injury but I don’t think the injury has anything to do with his current erratic play.

I believe part of the reason Palmer’s trade demands have flown under the radar is because he belongs to a distinct and privileged fraternity in the NFL: He’s a white quarterback in the NFL.  Based on past precedence, they evade criticism when it is richly deserved.

Brett Favre and Ben Roethlisberger are the poster-boys for being placed in the media’s witness protection program.

Favre was alleged to have sent inappropriate texts to Jenn Sterger while he was a New York Jet.  There was some talk Favre would be in hot water, but I knew better.  Turns out Commissioner Roger Goodell slapped the Golden Boy on the rear, fined him $50,000 and told him to enjoy his retirement.

Roethlisberger missed four games this past season for violating the personal conduct code.  He was accused of assaulting a 20-year-old co-ed in Milledgeville, Georgia just over a year ago.

Once the dust settled, the media gave Roethlisberger the space he needed to play football and work his PR campaign.  He did not have to worry about being asked tough questions—particularly at Media Day at this years’ Super Bowl—because he was protected by the lily-white media and his celebrity status.

Interesting how Michael Vick is still scrutinized to this day for a debt to society he paid two years ago.  Unlike Favre and Roethlisberger, Vick has consistently faced the media piper and answered tough questions.

If Vick had a season like Palmer and asked out of Philadelphia, you think he’d receive more media coverage than Palmer?

Palmer—a self-proclaimed elite quarterback who hasn’t showed any glimpses he belongs on that tier—is being protected by the media even though he has not demonstrated he belongs in the elite club.

Ochocinco has consistently been labeled an agitator who seeks the limelight.  He’s been portrayed as a loud-mouth who can be a distraction to team chemistry.

Sound familiar?

Rest assured, if Ochocinco had been kicking and screaming this off-season about a trade there would be media rumblings with nation-wide headlines.

Ochocinco recently stated the following via his Twitter account: “I love the media, I want out few years back im disgruntled n a distraction, I was sick of losing, Carson is tired of losing its still my fault?”

Ochocinco continued, "Carson Palmer demands a trade? Last person demanded a trade in Cincy was crucified by the media n had to win the fans back, how will this go?"

Then there’s Owens.  Owens has been labeled much of his career as being a cancer to the locker-room.  More notably he’s been accused of feuding with his quarterbacks and creating unnecessary friction.

If Owens had vocally blasted the Bengals organization and asked for a trade you think he would receive more negative media coverage than Palmer?

Apparently the double-standard extends to the head coach Marvin Lewis as well.  When asked about Ochocinco’s recent rendezvous, Lewis stated, “What has he ever done that he’s completed? What circle has he connected in any way?”

I have no issue with the latter, but why hasn’t Lewis ridiculed Palmer in public for his erratic play but is quick to pull the trigger on Ochocinco?

I don’t agree with some of Ochocinco’s antics but this time I totally understand his viewpoint.  Years ago when Ochocinco wanted out of Cincinnati the media feasted on the coverage.  Now that Palmer has issued the same proclamation this story continues to go unnoticed.

Perhaps if the media was more diverse there would be more balanced coverage.

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Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bryant Fined for Slur, but There's a Bigger Issue Here

NBA Commissioner David Stern did not waste any time in levying a fine against Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant for uttering the slur “f**king fa**ot” to a referee during a Tuesday night contest against the San Antonio Spurs.

Bryant suggested he meant no ill-will towards the referee. He was just frustrated and meant no harm.
“What I said last night should not be taken literally," said Bryant on Wednesday. "My actions were out of frustration during the heat of the game, period.”

Bryant added, "The words expressed do not reflect my feelings towards the gay and lesbian communities and were not meant to offend anyone.”

The Human Rights Campaign begs to differ. They feel Bryant’s poor choice of words creates an atmosphere for bigotry to fester, as does the commissioner.

According to, Stern suggested such derogatory statements have no place in sports or society. “Accordingly, I have fined Kobe $100,000. Kobe and everyone associated with the NBA know that insensitive or derogatory comments are not acceptable and have no place in our game or society."

President of the Human Rights Campaign Joe Solmonese concurred with Stern’s swift action: "We applaud Commissioner Stern and the NBA for not only fining Bryant but for recognizing that slurs and derogatory comments have no place on the basketball court or in society at large."

Solmonese continued, "We hope such swift and decisive action will send a strong and universal message that this kind of hateful outburst is simply inexcusable no matter what the context."

Bryant spoke with Solmonese and issued an apology prior to yesterday’s season finale against the Sacramento Kings. Said Solmonese, "We had a very sincere conversation in which he expressed his heartfelt regret for the hurt that his words caused. He told me that it's never okay to degrade or tease, and that he understands how his words could unfortunately give the wrong impression that this is appropriate conduct. At the end of a difficult day, I applaud Kobe for coming forward and taking responsibility for his actions."

I agree with anyone who believes derogatory slurs should not be tolerated. On a personal level I’ve experienced some of the worst racial slurs ever hurled at a person. I continue to champion justice whether the insults are leveled directly at me or at others.

The show must go on.

I don’t have a serious issue with the fine levied. It’s not like $100,000 will force him into bankruptcy.
I think there’s a bigger issue many are overlooking: the need for athletes—particularly African American athletes—to speak out against social inequities in American sport and society, whether it directly affects them or not.

Speaking out will ignite both awareness of and dialogue concerning so-called controversial issues, and can ultimately serve as a catalyst for change. Marquee athletes have the ear of the media and the eyes of the public.

Doesn’t it make sense to use one's platform for something other than self-gratification? Most African American athletes keep their mouths shut unless turmoil visits their own doorstep.

Why wasn’t Bryant speaking out during the 2008 Olympic Games in China?

At the time over 500,000 Muslim Africans were being slaughtered by their Christian countrymen in Darfur, Sudan. China was supplying weapons to the Sudanese government, which were used to murder innocent Africans.

Where was the protest by the athletes?

In 2007 LeBron James was asked by a teammate sign a petition against the genocide taking place in Darfur. He refused, suggesting he needed more time to investigate the matter.

A year wasn’t enough?

James, like Bryant, participated in the 2008 Olympic Games and didn’t utter one word about China's involvement with the massacre taking place.

Last summer James held his famous “Decision” for all to see. After he was thoroughly roasted by a segment of the media and fans his mainstream popularity took a hit.

In an interview with CNN’s Soledad O’Brien last year James was asked if race played a factor in his media portrayal. “I think so, at times,” he said. “There’s always a race factor.”

I totally agree race was a factor, but that’s not the point. James cried race when it directly effected him, yet he's not uttered a word in defense of its other targets.

Where were the African American athletes when Donovan McNabb was subject to racist bashing on ESPN by the conservative Rush Limbaugh in 2004?

Where was Bryant when Don Imus referred to several female basketball players as “nappy headed ho’s" in 2007?

Where was King James in 2008 when Golf Channel announcer Kelly Tilghman suggested players on the PGA Tour should take Tiger Woods and “lynch him in a back alley” to curtail his dominance?

The lack of diversity in the media ensures that the vast majority of information disseminated is manufactured by white males. So long as the media has lily-white vantage points on subject matter such as racism, sexism and gender, inequality will go vastly underreported.

According to The Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sports, 94, 88 and 89 of American sports editors, columnists and reporters respectively are white. Meanwhile, African-Americans account for 1, 6 and 8 respectively in the same positions.

Can anyone say "lack of diversity"?

We could experience a level of coverage that better reflects sports culture if publications, radio and television truly embraced diversity.

Slice the pie any way you like, but if the NBA is 80 percent African American there is a serious problem when just six percent of columnists covering it are African American and 88 percent are white.

Bottom line, we live in a society where many people both in and outside of sports opt for silence when noise is what's needed. Simultaneously, news outlets gloss over their need to diversify and remain vastly white.

What Bryant said was wrong, even though it was in the heat of the moment. But I think it would be great if the likes of Bryant utilized their platforms for more than self-gratification and personal gain.

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Bill Russell: Most Want to 'Be Like Mike' but I'd Rather 'Be Like Bill”

Now that the NBA Playoffs are set to start there are many questions.

Should Derrick Rose be named the MVP?

Will the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant repeat as champions?

Can the Miami Heat and LeBron James hoist the championship trophy this year?

Looking beyond the spectrum of this years playoffs I asked a fellow journalist the following question: Who is the greatest winner in NBA history?

Without hesitation he uttered, "Michael Jordan of course."

Good choice.

Jordan was the skinny kid who was cut from his high school basketball team.  He turned the negative into a positive in college as he helped lead the North Carolina Carolina Tarheels to the NCAA Championship as a freshman in 1982.

Jordan won two Olympic Gold Medals in 1984 as an amateur and in 1992 as a pro.  When Jordan helped lead “The Dream Team” to Olympic gold some experts suggest it was the greatest team ever assembled.

Jordan was selected third in the 1984 NBA draft by the Chicago Bulls.  He essentially took the torch from Julius Erving from an athletic standpoint and raised the bar to another level.

Jordan electrified fans for 14 years.  His array of high-flying dunks and clutch last second shots were the stuff of legend.  We also know about his six NBA championships and six finals MVP awards as well.

Jordan, who is currently is the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, ended his career with the Washington Wizards in 2003.  His career scoring average is the best in NBA history at 30.1 per game.

While there is no doubting Jordan’s impact on the NBA there is someone else whom I consider better for various reasons.  This player has 11 NBA championships; two of which came as player/coach in 1968 and 1969.

His name is Bill Russell.

Like Jordan, Russell also won Olympic gold at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

Before Russell embarked upon his stellar pro career he led the University of San Francisco to become NCAA Champions in 1955 and 1956.

Russell starred for the Boston Celtics from 1956-1969.  He was the centerpiece of arguably the greatest dynasty in team sports.

Russell averaged 15.0 points and 22 rebounds per game during his career.

There is a lot more to Russell than meets the eye.  Russell recently received the prestigious Medal of Freedom Award.  It represents the highest honor a citizen can receive.

Russell was a man who did things the right way but he did them his way.  After receiving the Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama, Russell stated, "It's very flattering because I've tried to live my life doing what I think is right and for the right reasons and one of the reasons was never to get accolades or honors."

Today many athletes are about money, women and notoriety: In Russell’s day it was about inclusion, rights and activism on and off the court.

As a superstar athlete Russell was revered, but on the streets of Boston he often encountered racism.  For instance, Russell wanted to move into white suburb of Redding just outside Boston.  Despite being the star of the Celtics, citizens of Redding formed a petition to keep Russell out of the neighborhood.

As a player Russell’s home was broken into by racists. They proceeded to defecate on his bed and threw garbage throughout his home.  The intruders also destroyed many of his trophies and personal belongings.

In 1975, Russell was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He boldly refused entry because of the mistreatment he experienced from a segment of the Boston faithful.

Later that year the Celtics wanted to hold a ceremony in Russell’s honor to retire his jersey but he declined: Instead Russell hoisted his No. 6 to the rafters of the Boston Garden with only his teammates and coaches present.


Russell wanted to be in the presence of those who really respected him as a man.  Russell felt he shouldn’t allow fans to cheer him as an athlete and disrespect him as a man.

Russell didn’t bow down to the establishment.   He once proclaimed, “I owe the public nothing.”

In my opinion Jordan has the social-consciousness of a door-knob.  With respect to activism, Jordan is bankrupt.  He has never uttered a word that could be construed as controversial.

Jordan was a corporate pitchman who was given scripts to read and he obliged.  Jordan even famously stated, “Republicans buy sneakers too.”

Translation: Jordan wasn’t about making a difference.  He was about making money.

Unlike Jordan, Russell was pioneer on and off the court through his activism.  He was active during the Civil Rights Movement and routinely spoke his mind during a time when the African-American athlete used their platforms for more personal gain.

Activists like Russell often act in accordance with a vision that is vastly distinct from mainstream ideology.  An activists’ vision often prompts them to lead movements rather than be one of many who follow.

Typically, those who are closed minded negatively label those who use their platforms for more than making a buck.  Russell wasn’t moved by money—he was moved by doing what he considered right and he refused to allow others to dictate his destiny.

Pioneers like Russell continue to press forward because they know what’s labeled as controversial today will be embraced tomorrow.

To his credit, Jordan has extended his success in a realm that’s often eluded the grasps of African-Americans and that’s ownership. Yet Jordan’s success can be directly attributed to pioneers like Russell who helped create opportunities for African-Americans in both society and sports.

Many can construct a viable argument for Jordan being the greatest basketball player of all time.

That’s fine.

But without question Russell was likely the most important basketball player and the greatest winner of all time.

Personally, I’d much rather “be like Bill” than “be like Mike.”
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Warren Moon: Does Race Factor in How Cam Newton Is Portrayed in the Media?

As Cam Newton strives to be the first quarterback taken in the upcoming NFL draft, some suggest he’s been subjected to racist stereotypes.

Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon has been advising Newton.  Moon—who experienced a lot of scrutiny as an African-American quarterback coming out of college—suggests the way Newton is being portrayed in the media is racist.

Mike Freeman of recently interviewed Moon regarding Newton’s characterization.  Here’s what Moon suggested: “A lot of the criticism he’s receiving is unfortunate and racially based,” Moon told Freeman.  “I thought we were all past this.  I don’t see other quarterbacks in the draft being criticized by the media or fans about their smile or called a phony.  He’s being held to different standards from white quarterbacks.  I thought we were past all this stuff about African-American quarterbacks, but I guess we’re not.”

Moon was a great quarterback who led the Washington Huskies to a Rose Bowl victory in 1978.  Moon ended up at Washington because other schools interested in his services wanted him to switch positions.  He refused.

Frankly speaking, some NFL teams did not want African-American quarterbacks on their roster.  Oddly, Moon was passed over by NFL franchises due to systemic racism within the NFL.

Moon took his talents north of the border to Canada where he played six productive years for the Edmonton Eskimos before the Houston Oilers called in 1984.

Moon played 17 productive years in the NFL, retiring in 2000.

Let’s face it; racism still is prevalent in society, so invariably it will be present in American sports.  Despite what some suggest, there is still a stigma regarding the African-American quarterback.

Moon recently told Freeman, “Of course there is racism in every walk of society.  We’ve made a lot of progress in this country. But racism is still there.  I just thought in the sports arena we were beyond it.  I think the way Cam is being treated shows we’re not. . . .”

Let’s delve deeper—who is writing these negative stories about Newton?

According to The Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sports, much of the negativity attributes Newton receives stems from a lily-white media that clearly lacks diversity.

Facts from the institute indicate 94, 88, 89 of the sports editors, columnists and reporters are white.
African-Americans account for zero, six, and eight percent of those occupying the same positions: Yet the NFL has a player representation of 68 percent.

Facts indicate much of the information disseminated about professional athletes clearly come from a white male vantage point.

Doesn't it make sense to have more diversity in the media for balanced coverage?

Newton has been characterized as a great “athlete” who is “lacking the intangibles” to run a pro-style offense.  His leadership skills have been scrutinized as well by the so-called experts like ESPN’s Todd McShay, Mel Kiper Jr. and general managers around the league.

Why is Newton being scrutinized?

Didn’t he lead Auburn to a National Championship while going undefeated?

Yeah, Newton ran the spread offense.

Big deal.

Didn’t Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford run the same offense in college?

Were they scrutinized like Newton for running the spread offense?

Moon offered the following to Freeman, “The thing that makes me laugh is the question of can [Newton] come out of the spread offense?  Can he run a pro offense?  Colt McCoy came out of the spread offense and very few people raised that issue about him.  So did Sam Bradford. Same thing.  Very few questions asking if Bradford could run a pro offense.  Some of these questions about Cam are more about his intellect.  It’s blatant racism, some of it.”

Charlie Ward led the Florida Seminoles to the National Championship in 1993.  Ward also won the Heisman Trophy.

Ward was a gifted collegiate athlete who played point guard in basketball and was a great pitcher in baseball.

When the 1994 NFL draft came and went, Ward’s name was not called.  Ward stated he “deserved to be selected in the first round.”  He suggested if he wasn’t selected in the first round then he’d opt for basketball.
Ward was projected by experts as a third to fifth-round pick at best.

How can a quarterback who passed for 3032 yards, 27 touchdowns against four interceptions not at least get a legit look?

I believe race factored in to why Ward was snubbed, and it factors in to why Newton is being victimized by racist stereotypes.

I am quite sure some will suggest I am playing the race card.

Not so.

All those who think I’m playing the race card, I ask you to simply open your collective minds.  Allow a level of objectivity to infiltrate your ignorance so you simply ask yourself one question:

Does what he (Dexter) suggest have a semblance of credence?

Is that too much to ask?

For some, it’s much easier to continually clutch ones ignorance rather than attempt to constructively attack it.
I guess that’s to be expected, considering much of what we digest comes from a lily-white media.

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