Yes, I will be watching the NFL this season…

This blog post may come as a surprise to some.

Many of you have watched me take a stand against injustices I see and encounter. Many of you have read my thoughts about what has been happening in this world. Many of you know I have no problem expressing how I feel about certain situations. So many of you may have been expecting a different blog title than the one you received.

Listen, everyone knows I love football. Not just like. I love it. Always have. Always will. Youth. Middle school. High school. College. NFL. I love it all. It is an escape for me. It is a place of solace in this crazy world. It is something I look forward too every September. And they are the reasons why I will be in front of the tv tonight.

Let me be clear. My love for the game is not greater than the desire I have to see things change in this world as well as effect change. However, here is the reality. The National Football League has long been a corporation that expects its employees to behave a certain way, follow certain protocols and always put the interests of their team, first. No different than most businesses, right? Well the difference here is the NFL has long been a corporation that rarely practices what it preaches. It wants to protect the shield but it has not been willing to do what needs to be done to make sure the shield is presented in a continuous, positive light.

Take a look at the facts.

Continue reading “Yes, I will be watching the NFL this season…”

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August First!!

You have to be a FOOTBALL FANATIC to understand the significance of AUGUST FIRST. For those of you who just do not get it, August First is the first day that college football teams can start officially practicing. August First marks the first day that a lot of high school teams across the country can begin officially practicing. August is the month when FOOTBALL SEASON officially begins!!!!!!!! Happy. Happy. Joy. Joy.

carlton

Almost Jerry. Alllllllmost…..

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October 26, 1993. I still remember the breaking news from the sporting world that day. It was the day the Carolina Panthers were born and it was also the day I became a fan. In case you missed the memo, yes I am a 9ers and a Panthers fan regardless of what you say. You still can not question my fanhood!!! On this same day, I watched Jerry Richardson, owner of the Panthers, guarantee that the team would win a SuperBowl within their first 10 years of existence.

Fast forward to February 1, 2004, nine years after the Panthers first season(the Panthers started playing in 1995), SuperBowl XXXVIII(38). The Carolina Panthers vs. the New England Patriots. Could my Panthers really keep Jerry’s promise? After the way things had unfolded for my Panthers in the playoffs, anything was possible.

My Panthers easily dismissed the Dallas Cowboys in the first round to advance to a divisional playoff meeting with the St. Louis Rams. My Panthers were leading by 11 with three minutes to go when the improbable happened. The Rams tied the game!! In what will go down as one of the most exciting games I have ever watched, my Panthers managed to get the job done on the first play of the second overtime. QB Jake Delhomme hit WR Steve Smith in stride, the middle of the field for a 69 yard TD to send my Panthers to the NFC Championship. The clip of Delhomme celebrating that TD will never get old. Classic Jake :-}.

Next up was the opponent that stood between my Panthers and the SuperBowl, the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles would play without their workhorse RB, Brian Westbrook and would later lose QB Donovan McNabb during the game due to an injury. My Panthers won 14-3 to advance to the big game.

Besides the fact that my team was playing in the game, one of the main reasons that this game stands out is because I was in Charlotte to watch the game. A friend was invited down by another friend and my friend invited me to come as well. Keep in mind that I lived a little over two hours from Charlotte and I had to be at work at 8:30 the next morning but of course that was not going to stop me from going to Charlotte for the anticipated celebration. We ate. We laughed. We cheered. We covered our eyes when Janet played peek-a-boo. And with about three minutes to go and the game tied, we began to prepare for the trip to downtown Charlotte to celebrate Jerry’s promise. We had full confidence in our team. Then former Patriot Adam Vinatieri happened. With four seconds left, he shattered the dreams of Jerry and millions of Panthers fans along the East Coast with a swift kick that sent the ball through the uprights and sent the New England Patriots home with the Lombardi Trophy.

As I drove home that night, well morning, I began to laugh because I could only imagine what time I would have been leaving Charlotte if we had won. I wondered what I would have told my supervisor when he would have caught me sleeping at my desk. I decided I would have told him the truth. He knew I was a die hard and he was a great sport when he lost our bet during the NFC Championship game(he was an Eagles fan). If we had won, I surely would not have been productive that day but it would have been well worth it!!!

Oh no he didn’t…..

Let me start with saying that I have NEVER been a fan of Rob Parker(an analyst on ESPN). Not necessarily because of anything he has said or done but quite simply because of the way he talks. He whines when he talks. I do not mean that he is whining every time he says something. He literally draws out the last word of each sentence and sometimes he does that to other words in the sentence and it is just downright A.NNOY.ING. The other morning I turned on my tv to watch First Take, saw he was sitting at the debate desk and I promptly turned the channel. Well, after yesterday’s debacle I am sure there were a lot of people turning their tv.

One of the topics of yesterday’s episode was Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III. I do not know what prompted the discussion but I know it quickly went wide left when Parker used the discussion as an opportunity to question RG3’s “blackness.” Yes, I said his blackness. What does that mean you ask? I DO NOT KNOW!!! After reading the transcript of the discussion, I am going to assume it means that if you are black there are certain people in this world who expect you to think, act and behave a certain way because you are black. I guess that is what “blackness” is. The term is stupid and I have a better word for classifying what “blackness” is: A STEREOTYPE.

Parker had the nerve to ask on tv, “if he(RG3) is a brother or a cornball brother?” I find that question to be ironic coming from a man who always looks like he got dressed in the dark. Parker then went on to say, “He’s not real. Ok, He’s black, he kind of does the thing but he’s not really down with the cause…..We all know he has a white fiancee. There was all this talk about how he’s a Republican, which, I really don’t care, there’s no information at all. I’m just trying to dig deeper into why he has an issue. Because we did find out with Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods was like, I’ve got black skin but don’t call me black.” Lawd hammercy. This guy. Just spewing foolishness all over the place. Hidden amongst the broken sentences and incomplete thoughts is pure ignorance.

Let me break these statements down. First, what makes a black man a “cornball brother?” RG3 is educated, articulate, full of integrity and has never been in trouble. If that is what makes you a “cornball brother” then I wish there were more of those around. Second, what is this cause he speaks of? I DO NOT KNOW!! I am black and I was not informed that there was a certain cause I had to be down with. Third, what does him having a white fiancee and possibly being a Republican have to do with his “blackness?” I DO NOT KNOW!!! I know that there are folks in this world who believe people who marry outside of their race are “sellouts.” That is ignorance at its best. Who cares who other folks marry? Is it causing you to lose money on your job? Fourth, what does Tiger Woods have to do with any of this? Tiger Woods is NOT just a black man. Any logical thinking person would have no problem with him not calling himself a black man because HE IS NOT. He is multiracial, in case you missed the memo.

This may come as a shock to some but what Parker did is, sadly, not uncommon in the black community. Some of us live to tear each other down instead of lifting each other up. Some of us do not want to see others succeed, not realizing that when one is successful, that is a victory for all of us. It has taken us a long time to get to the point where we are respected for our works, endeavors, knowledge and service. We threaten the very foundation of what our ancestors went through when we questions people’s “blackness” simply because that person does not live their life the way we think they ought to. I know I may be upsetting some of my readers right now but there is no sugar coating in the world of journalism. Plus, if you know me, then you know I am not about “sugaring” anything. Instead of focusing on those things in RG3’s life that he does not understand, Parker should be focused on how this young black man has revitalized a team, fanbase and even a city. He has restored some pride that has been lost for at least a decade. His success is pumping money into the economy. He is a great role model for not just young boys who look like him but for all young boys across the world.

So after saying all that, I have concluded that I still do not know what “blackness” is. I love to read but I have not read the book that tells me what I need to be doing to prove how black I am. If being black comes with certain criteria then I am going to go out on a limb and say I may not qualify. I love to run. I am attending my first NASCAR race next year and I have Bon Jovi concert dates circled on my calendar. Does that mean I am not black? Ummmm, no. Those things are part of who I am. Despite how I see myself, I know that I am held to a different standard simply because of the color of my skin. I know there are people who expect more out of me because of my skin color and I know there are people who expect less out of me simply because of my skin color. I am kind, passionate, loving and I communicate well. I do not do drugs. I have not been to jail and I have graduated from college, twice. If that makes me a “cornball”, then so be it. I am going to take my two degree having, marathon running, non-profit starting “cornball” self to this Bon Jovi concert next year and sing all the songs as loud as I can. Keep fighting for DC, RG3!! Us “cornballs” are rooting for you!

 

Until Next time….TOODELLS.

The Dallas Wake-Up Call…

Seven days. That is all it took for the National Football League to be reeling from yet another tragedy.

Saturday morning, most of the world awoke to the news that Jerry Brown, a linebacker on the Dallas Cowboys practice squad, was killed in a car accident. The accident was caused by his teammate and close friend, Josh Brent. Authorities say Brent was driving at a high rate of speed when his car hit a curb, flipping at least once and skidding approximately 900 feet before coming to rest. It is now known that Brent was driving under the influence of alcohol.

Awful. Just awful. Drunk driving claims yet another life. The statistics for fatalities as a result of drunk driving have not been released yet for 2012 since the year is not over. In 2011, there were 9, 878 fatalities, according to data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 2011 marked the first year that drunk driving fatalities were under 10,000. While that does give organizations whose main focus is to educate the country about the dangers and consequences of drunk driving, it is a difficult “victory” to celebrate when 9.878 people lost their lives as a result of the problem.

So once again, seven days later, we all ponder the question: why? Why get behind the wheel knowing you are drunk? Why not call someone to pick you up? Why do you need to drink that much in the first place?You would think after last week’s wake up call in which former Kansas City Chief Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend before committing suicide, players, would be placing more value on their lives as well as those around them. Instead, another mother has to bury her son because a man chose to make a bad decision that ultimately affects the lives of many. Sad. Just sad. To make matters worse, Saturday was not the first time Brent had driven under the influence. In 2009, Brent was charged with driving under the influence(DUI). He was given 60 days in jail. It is obvious that there is a disconnect somewhere when it comes to Brent, alcohol and driving.

Over the past few days, I have heard a lot of talk about NFL players and drinking. A lot of journalists seems to be suggesting that this is a league problem. This year alone, 18 NFL players have been arrested for suspicion of DUI, up from seven in the previous year. That breaks down to a percentage of .7%. However, drunk driving is not just an NFL problem, it is a nationwide problem and I fail to understand why. I do not understand getting behind a wheel drunk and risking the lives of others and well as your own. Most of us have access to family, friends and complete strangers who are willing to help us get to our desired destination if we are too drunk to drive. Well, I should not say us and we because I do not drink. Anymore. I made the decision to stop consuming alcohol nine years ago and it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I now have the chance to be one of those people I just talked about. If a friend were to call and say, “Hey, I am too drunk to drive. Can you come pick me up?”, I would be there before they have a chance to find their keys and change their minds.

The NFL does believe that the issue of drunk driving is a very serious one.  However, I think it is time for the NFL to step up to the field and adopt a stricter policy when players are arrested for DUIs, especially multiple times. According to USA Today, 18 players have been arrested for suspicion of DUI, up from seven last year. Since 2000,177 players have been arrested for DUIs, most notably Donte Stallworth who struck and killed Mario Reyes as he was crossing the street one morning in March 2009. Stallworth admitted he had been drinking. Ultimately, Stallworth was given a 30 day jail sentence and settled out of court. Stallworth was suspended one year from the NFL but for me that does not seem to be enough. I know the league is made up of hundreds of players who do not drink and drive but one driving under the influence is too many.

While it is easy to make this out to be an NFL problem, like I said earlier, this is a nationwide problem.  Drunk driving is one of the leading causes of death. Men are more likely to drink excessively than women are, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Men average 12.5 binge drinking episodes a year compared to 2.7 for women. Oddly enough, I suspect that the reason men tend to binge drink and then “assume” they are ok to drive, has a lot to do with what I talked about in my blog last week. Men are prideful. They do not like to ask for help. They do not like to show weakness. Telling another man that you are not capable of driving home implies that you are not capable of “handling your liquor.” All of this challenges your “manhood.”

The NFL is a major player, not only in our country but in this world. I hope the 2009 death of Reyes and the 2012 death of Brown serve as a catalyst to fight the “war” against drunk driving . The NFL has the opportunity to use these instances to educate their players as well as people around the globe that driving under the influence is dangerous, risky and stupid. One wake up call should be enough.