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Well, I’ve been saying this all along…

October 19, 2007

First, a crappy workplace situation update: We’ve got a 5th contractor in this tiny conference room. That makes it 5 people with 3 dial-up ports in a room the size of a rich person’s pantry.

Now for the good stuff. Jason Whitlock has been a favorite writer of mine for a while. I find myself agreeing with him almost all the time, and not just because he’s a big scary black man who could tear me in half. He’s like Al Sharpton if Al Sharpton wasn’t flamboyantly racist and excruciatingly obnoxious. Actually he’s not like Al Sharpton at all. But I digress since I’m getting nowhere.

Whitlock recently wrote in his weekly column for Fox Sports on MSN (the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of the news blog world apparently) that “buffoonery” by black athletes in the NFL is killing the progress that players like Gale Sayers and Walter Payton made for black football players. He claims the obsession with the hip hop culture and subsequent rebellion against law/authority has created a type of player that coaches, owners, and other team-oriented players simply do not want to deal with. In a sport predicated on speed, agility, power, and pointless armband accessories, coaches and general managers are turning to players who are perhaps not quite as fast or powerful but are more dedicated to the team mentality. And probably less likely to try and seduce 14 year old girls in a shitty hotel in Northern Kentucky with Busch Light.

Incidentally, a lot of these types of players are white. The facts are simple: white players are simply less likely to embrace the hip hop culture of violence, rebellion, and egoism. This is at least partly due to the fact that a white dude with corn rows standing on a corner in the hood yelling “fuck the man” is a great way to get laughed at and/or shot. I’ve been saying this for a while, but mostly in regards to the NBA, which has wholly embraced the hip hop culture (albeit a little more of the rapping and a little less of the crime). Witness the New York Knicks. An absolutely horrible team filled with individually gifted players. It’s obvious that this is going on in the NFL too, although it’s a little more transparent since 2 bad eggs can be at least partially covered by 9 good ones at any given time.

Race is not the determining factor when it comes to having a good or bad attitude. Culture is.

Hip hop is the dominant culture for black youth. In general, music, especially hip hop music, is rebellious for no good reason other than to make money. Rappers and rockers are not trying to fix problems. They create problems for attention.

That philosophy, attitude and behavior go against everything football coaches stand for. They’re in a constant battle to squash rebellion, dissent and second opinions from their players.

You know why Muhammad Ali is/was an icon? Because he rebelled against something meaningful and because he excelled in an individual sport. His rebellion didn’t interfere with winning. Jim Brown, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, etc. rebelled with dignity and purpose.

What we’re witnessing today are purposeless, selfish acts of buffoonery. Sensible people have grown tired of it. Football people are recognizing it doesn’t contribute to a winning environment.

Whitlock makes countless good points in this article, as he usually does. And he does so without pulling any race cards (actually, while we’re sticking with card analogies, it’s more like he’s folding on his hand of race cards as he refuses to use race as a crutch), which is pretty refreshing. And he’s absolutely right that it’s a culture thing. The fact that it happens to be blacks who embrace this culture does not make what he says racist in any way, nor does it make NFL decision makers racist.

Will we see more GMs and coaches turn to this model? It’s been successful for New England and Indianapolis, two of the most dominant teams in the past decade. Moreover, rather than just saying “fuck it, let’s sign white dudes”, I think you’ll see a lot more teams investing heavily in scouting. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot more value placed in a player’s character in April’s draft than we’ve seen lately.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Ashley permalink
    October 22, 2007 5:27 pm

    FANTASTIC POST! My favorite thus far.

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