RGIII and “the Brothers”

Posted on December 16, 2013 by Robert Ringer


I really dislike writing about race, not because I’m concerned that it might bring some criticism my way (it will), but because the whole issue has gotten both absurd and boring.  Every time you think it’s dying down, BAM:  It’s in the headlines again.  And so long as there are people who know how to profit from it, it will continue to be in the headlines.

That said, as someone who earns a living by offering sociological and philosophical insights into all facets of life, I feel obliged to jump back into the muck yet again.  There have been a number of race-related stories in the world of sports recently, and the biggest one is the benching of Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (RGIII) by coach Mike Shanahan.

Once Shanahan announced that Kirk Cousins (who is white) would be the starting quarterback for the last three games of the season, a lot of people, most notably former Dallas Cowboy and Hall of Famer Michael Irvin, started blaming RGIII’s benching on his skin color.  Acting as an analyst on national television, Irvin shouted, “Us brothers (euphemism for black males) have got to stick together.”

Really?  Stick together against who?  The white members of their teams?  The white members of the media?  Why in the hell would an athlete want to “stick together” with anyone based on his skin color?

Now, here’s what would be almost funny if it weren’t so painful for Robert Griffin:  Last year, Rob Parker, an African-American ESPN analyst, tore into RGIII for his choices in everything from politics to women, calling him, among other things, a “cornball brother” (an African-American male who refuses to follow the stereotype that some blacks believe is a requirement for a man of color).

Parker went on to say:  “… he’s not really down with the cause, he’s not one of us.  He’s kind of black, but he’s not really the guy you’d really want to hang out with, because he’s off to do something else.”  Hmm … dare I ask what the cause is?

So, poor Robert Griffin — some blacks think he got benched because he’s black; others think he acts too white.  My advice to RGIII is this:  Look in the mirror and face the fact that you got benched because you haven’t performed very well this season, and you were getting worse every game.  It’s comes with the profession you chose — a profession that pays very well, by the way.

In fact, you should accept your benching as a badge of honor, considering that some pretty good quarterbacks were benched at one time or another during their careers.  I’m talking about guys like Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach, Joe Montana, John Elway, and Troy Aikman.  Oh, and by the way, they all happen to be white.  That’s right, their whiteness didn’t save them from being benched, but their performance over the long term resulted in their becoming Hall of Famers.

Speaking of benched quarterbacks, last season Forty Niners coach Jim Harbaugh became the only coach in NFL history to permanently bench a quarterback (Alex Smith) who was leading the league in passing when he got injured.  Not one analyst mentioned the fact that Smith is white and Colin Kaepernick, his replacement, is part black.  And that’s the way it should be — including when it’s the other way around — because getting benched has nothing to do with skin color.

Another interesting question:  If RGIII is being treated unfairly because he’s black, how did his jersey become the number-one selling jersey in NFL history last season when he was playing so well?  I don’t know why, but I have a suspicion that a few white folks may have made some of those purchases.

Oh, and by the way, today the four top-selling jerseys in the NFL are Colin Kaepernick, Peyton Manning, Russell Wilson, and Adrian Peterson, with Robert Griffin III’s jersey now in fifth place.  That’s right, four of the top five best-selling jerseys in the NFL have black players’ names on them.  I wonder how many jerseys these guys would be selling if they were depending solely on “the brothers” to buy them.

Nevertheless, the cries of racism in sports goes on.  Why has the media given someone like Michael Vick such a hard time?  Or Donovan McNabb?  Answer:  For the same reason they give Mark Sanchez a hard time.  Or Tony Romo.  Or Peyton Manning.

Sanchez is white, but he’s just not very good.  Romo is white, but he has an amazing talent for making bad plays in the clutch (as he did yet again this past Sunday against the Packers).  Manning is also white, but, for all his MVP awards, can’t seem to win in cold weather venues.

And let’s not forgot Tim Tebow, who led the Broncos to a number of come-from-behind miracle wins in 2012, then defeated the big, bad Pittsburgh Steelers with an eighty-yard touchdown pass in the playoffs in overtime.  All this must have him wondering why nobody is complaining about his essentially being run out of football following his Horatio Alger feats.  How could a white quarterback possibly be treated like this?

Enough!  This stuff is getting too crazy.  And also sad, especially for the millions of blacks who resent those who try to pressure them into playing the victim role.

I can’t take this political-correctness B.S. anymore.  I might just sign up for the first commercial flight to the moon.  If it’s as peaceful and quiet as it appears to be, I also might just decide to stay.  Black or white, you’re welcome to join me — provided you agree never to talk about race.

Robert Ringer

Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.

32 responses to “RGIII and “the Brothers””

  1. Tyler says:

    I absolutely love this article. There needs to be more and more people that stand up against this reverse-racism "the brothers" always throw at us "non-brothers" every time something happens to a black person. Trayvon Martin? DIED BECAUSE HE WAS BLACK. A group of black kids attack and kill a white senior war vet? Where is Jesse Jackson? Where is Al Sharpton? Not a damn word out of them. Ridiculous.

  2. Lawrence Ekdahl says:

    This racism which is dividing the country is not accidental and serves the purposes of those who would destroy this country. Divide and conquer.

  3. john alvin says:

    I thought the article was average as you could tell the strong stance you take in the matter which I do agree with however, you clearly ignored the fact that RGIII’s only comment on the situation was that he would go with the coaches decision yet you ignored that matter and sort of focused on him and gave “advice” to a man than was cooperative based on the outburst of a few that have no association with him outside of a sport they play and skin color they have. In your description of what the situation was all about you even stated parts of the “black community” didn’t accept him, so why give “advice” to someone who never touched the racial issue in the first place?

    • Robert Ringer RJR says:

      You took my words too literally. You might say they were words of encouragement. I think the biggest danger RGIII faces is that he might allow himself to get intimidated by the race baiters and try to become a different person. He's a good kid with good values, thanks to his military parents, and if he focus on staying that way, his athletic ability will take care of itself.

  4. Silverback says:

    Peyton seems to be having a pretty good year, playing outside in the cold weather.

  5. flyn says:

    Unfortunately, I think the biggest problem with the race issue is the peddlers taking high visibility situations and using them to prove racism.

    I can't think of anyplace more unlikely to have racial issues than a football locker room.

  6. omegamensch says:

    Robert, appreciate and agree with your comments, the way I see it—Its not about COLOR Its about CHARACHTER and some of the feedback coming in at you just dont seem to get it either. they love to keep it going with the woe is me attitude.

  7. David Welber says:

    There seems to be a committee out there that decides who is "down for the struggle" and who isn't. I suspect that it's the DNC, in conjunction with the Congressional Black Caucus. If you are judged to be "down for the struggle," you can say anything you want and get away with it. Joe Biden, to name one. But, if you are not "down for the struggle," everything you say and do will be considered to be racist, homophobic, sexist, and a contributing factor of global warming.

  8. Michael says:

    Great post. Far too often, people look for some excuse why something bad happened to them, rather than take personal responsibility. When professional athletes play poorly, they get benched, no matter what color they are. Your examples are perfect. Unfortunately, readers might interpret that you are calling out RGIII for being a racial complainer (you are not). He's a classy guy and I hope he will rebound from his injuries and mediocre play. I am very disappointed in Michale Irvine, who I used to respect.

    • Robert Ringer RJR says:

      He definitely is a classy guy and I think he'll be great if he can avoid serious injury. The latter is easier said than done in the NFL.

  9. People outside of a discriminated group usually think that any reaction to the discrimination is an over reaction. Whites think Blacks are over reacting, straights think gays are over reacting and bars stay in business because men insist that women are over reacting.

    That said,
    The case of RGIII, is quite a silly situation that makes everyone seem like fool. Both the the NBA and the NFL tend to favor people of color so cries of racism from those camps is asinine. RGIII, handled it like a pro and the comments from "the brothers" were just that.- comments that most black people wouldn't have given second thought. It's usually well-intentioned, over sympathetic outsiders and trolls who take up the rally cry and fuel the extraneous conversations. Then social media fuels these stupid fires with nitro.

    Make no mistake, racism is very much alive in the dark hearts of small minded people. However, I agree with RR, in the fact that the media is milking this issue for all it's worth. Why not? It gets people talking and clicking and that makes money.

    Now for every asinine celebrity situation that draws this level of attention and traffic, there's a real situation that barely registers a peep.

  10. Murray Suid says:

    Robert, you beautifully martial your facts here. I can't imagine a more persuasive essay. Yet I think this would be more powerful still if it came from a black guy. I say that because there is a history of white guys using facts and logic to denigrate blacks. Given the importance of the argument, perhaps you could have persuaded one of your black friends to write on this subject. Again, as a white guy–who shares your perspective–I find your essay persuasive. It's just that I think the words–coming from a black essayists–would have even more impact.

    To use another example: Lots of people criticize Israel for its policy regarding the settlements. Sometimes, when the critics are non-Jews, Jews feel that the comments may be anti-Semitic. When the exact same concerns are expressed by Jews (who oppose the settlements), there is no hint of anti-Semitism, thus making it easier for readers to weigh the arguments dispassionately.

  11. Jim says:

    Shannon Sharpe (another former Shanahan player who is black) made the same argument yesterday on Sunday pre game show. He said RGIII was benched because he wasn't good enough and Shanahan is NOT a racist. He is always looking for the BEST player for the position. FYI. I have followed RR since "Winning Through Intimidation" and he is rarely incorrect. And I stand by my words forever. Ted Koppel never got anything except older and dumber.

  12. Phil says:

    Sign me up.

  13. Robby Bonter says:

    Brilliant case for the "defense," were this a court of law, Robert. Another element instigating and perpetuating all this trashy race talk is the fact that IT IS BIG BUSINESS. Some of the most successful and powerful social and political demagogues in history of this country make their considerable livelihood spewing hatred and keeping the pot of contentiousness boiling over. It also serves to keep the minions, by the millions, "in line" for a certain political party's ongoing exploitation and continued empowerment.

    I am amazed that the Redskins have not been mandated by Congress to change their name, perhaps as campaign fodder in the next national election, rather than right now for minimal political exploitation and gain.

  14. Scott theczech says:

    According to Fan Nation and other fairly reliable sources, the least valuable NFL team is the Oakland Raiders @ a mere estimated value of $757 million. They had a net operating loss last year of about $5.7 million. They were not alone either as several other teams struggled to make a profit.

    What does this have to do with racism you ask…not much except perhaps a little perspective. The NFL has much bigger problems than alleged racism, such as huge lawsuits and out-of-court settlements involving major disability claims relating to head trauma, paying cash bounties for "special hits" on opponents (NO Saints, Head Coach Payten et.al.), parking lot suicides, death-by-girlfriend (McNair 2009), revenue sharing issues, branding & trademark violations, etc., etc. The NFL is expected to generate about $9.3 billion this year in what is being called "gross football product. Amway produced $11.3 billion, CSX Corp. $11.6 billion, and Whole Foods Market Inc. almost $13 billion…and none of these businesses enjoy antitrust waivers authorized by Congress, none are cartels without direct competition, and none are beneficiaries of public subsidized stadiums. The National Football League has big trouble and I suspect their problems will get worse primarily because it is a business with foundation flaws. Consequently the occasional joust over race is distraction and misdirection – something every magician knows how to do. Imagine for a moment that you are an owner in the NFL or the Commissioner…or the advertisers and the next generation of mothers could bring your entire enterprise crashing down because they refuse to let their sons play. Yikes! …makes race seem small doesn't it?

    • Robby Bonter says:

      So true, all your above observations. Let me add that I stopped watching the Super Bowl, several years ago, because of the crass commercialism, and this "new age" pecking order placing the glut of glossily-produced commercials, the purposeful national anthem desecration, and the halftime show exhibitionist debauchery above the game itself, it terms of overall media focus and coverage. This has happened because most NFL games these days are a colossal bore, filled with penalties, commercial time outs, predictable on-field "tactics," and condescending over-analysis, as though we are attending sacred rites in God's home cathedral in the sky.

      Plus, too many of the players look and act like morons, what with their body decorations right out of a first grade coloring class and their spoiled-brat, overpaid, chip on the shoulder, narcissistic view of themselves and what they perceive as their glorified place in society, as is evidenced by the constant media barrage delineating their criminal thuggery, spousal abuse, and drugs and steroids excesses. Who needs a steady media diet of this? It is time-management liberating the day in your life that you realize you are not hooked on this demoralizing garbage with comes under the guise of being "a game" any more.

  15. Lee says:

    You guys always downgrade race when it is still evident, and if you really listen to the comments during a sporting event you can tell the difference when a white player makes a mistake versus a black player. Troy Aikman always soften the blow when the white player makes a mistake, but has no problem calling out the black athlete. The black quarterback is always being looked at to be replaced and when the white quarterback is in the game the focus turns to the team's problem.

    Just look at how the announcers praise the quarterbacks like they are the entire team, its not Ravens vs. Broncos, but Joe Flacco vs. Peyton Manning like there isn't 10 other guys busting their butt on every play.

    I always say the most individual at risk of being replace is the black quarterback and black head coaches in most sports. Of course there are exceptions because not all white people look at race, but there is certainly enough that make it noticeable.

    Take for instance when Ray Lewis was playing in the Super Bowl, Boomer Eaision just knew Ray Lewis knew something about the murder (how the heck does Boomer know what happened), but I would be willing to bet Boomer could not give a flip about those black young men who lost their lives. All the comments posts praised Boomer calling him courteous, for what? Because he wanted to blame a black man (Ray Lewis) which is so easy to do and does not take any courage.

    Final word look at the OJ Simpson trial and Robert Blake (the old Barretta detective) trial guess which one got all the attention (Blake was allowed to quiet lay in the wings)?

    When Ben Rothlesburger gets accused by 2 women of rape he doesn't even have to go to trial.

    Look at all the issues our president has to endured just trying to help people get health care, while George W. Bush has killed and disfigured all our dear servicemen for NOTHING but a senseless war! And they built a Presidential library for that murderer… I can hardly stand to look at him.

    White guys are liked by everyone it takes a lot for the media to really be angry at them, everyday there is always someone has a reaction whenever I come in the area and I don't even look like a thug. Most white guys do just enough to not be called a racist they look to find one friend of color to ease their mind.

    Please stop trying to justify things when you get someone of color to say something that differs, because guess what we don't all think a like an one person of color can't speak for the entire race. Just like one white person can't speak for the entire race.

    How do you know if Shanahan's decision wasn't a racial decision you can't read his mind you can just look at the evidence like Michael Irvin did.

    • kdubb u says:

      Thank you Lee!! It has always bothered me when someone that is not African American speak about what is and isn't racism. If you have not walked in our shoes, how do you know? What do you know? Have you walked in any black person's shoes

      I have always noticed also in the sports commentary, when a black QB throws a pick, it was a bad throw. When the white QB throws a pick, it appears there was confusion on the route (usually the black receiver ran the wrong route).

      I am not saying non African Americans cannnot have an opinion about racsim, but you cannot speak on the subject in authority, because you don't know what is is to be BLACK and the differences that are made of us just because of the color of our skin!!!!

  16. Paul says:

    Permit me to roll against the tide. The issue of racism must have gone. Lets be realistic here, not the memory. I dont think Kant have nullified the philosophical method of cause and effect. Racism was a history, and a bitter memory, that is being exploited by the black culture, in retrospect just as it was exploited by whites. The only way out, I feel, is for the whites to shoulder the example of change(sorry, not Obama change), but of attitude. I feel the blacks are lost and are looking for a way out, and counter blame wont work, but attitudinal change. The whites need to set an example and be in the lead.

  17. Robby Bonter says:

    I just saw, elsewhere, that a department store "Santa Claus" was fired for saying "Ho, Ho, Ho," instead of "Ha, Ha, Ha." I give up – it is OVER for free-spirited people who have lost the battle to the forces of control and coercion.

  18. courtney says:

    Micheal irvin knows wats going on in the world i say rg3 didint get benched on his skin color but i will say this micheal irvin came from where i live & we black ppl over in florida did not & will not forget the amount of years & struggle we had to go through by white til this day i cant find a job. While ppl are getting what they need by the abundance but we need whites to support blacks we need you!

    • Robert Ringer RJR says:

      I have sincere empathy for what many blacks have endured over the years. But the way to a better life is not anger and hanging onto the past. The road to a better life is to focus on your unique talents and determination. Don't be enticed into the Victimization Trap by race hustlers who only want to use you for their purposes. door is wide open for blacks today. Focus on the future, not the past. You can control the former, but not the latter.

  19. elijah lahm says:

    Every sport is controlled and owned by mainly white people but there are less white people than blacks in the NFL and NBA. With that bein said this situation seems far from racist. But racism is still very much alive in the NFL. Look at the team name that RG3 plays on! Nobody touches that subject but if the team name were anti-black, anti-white or anti-semetic the team name would have changed years ago.

    As a Native American i find it highly disrespectul!! Few white people have ever “experienced” racism as Black and Native people “experience” every day. So its easy for you to claim ignorance on racism when you don’t see or feel it. The indirect racism is even worse. the not lookin us in the eyes or treating us badly at restaurants, we still see and feel it regardless of how many naysayers there may be.

    • Robert Ringer RJR says:

      The argument over the use of "Redskins" as a team name is a difficult one. I can understand why Native Americans resent the use of the name, but, interestingly, many have come out in favor of Washington keeping the name. It will be interesting to see how it unfolds. It's tough to change a precedent that has been in existence for 70-80 years. But there is no question that many longstanding precedents are not valid.

  20. Sean Baltz says:

    Ringer is a master at communicating the obvious which so many others either are ignorant of, or fearful of.

  21. DEH says:

    I'm torn. It seems like the racism issue in this country is a matter of perspective. It's like holding on to all the bad experiences in your life or the positive ones. You have to remember both but, over-reacting to every event that includes multiple races and claiming racism is the equivalent of crying wolf.

    It is refreshing to see a counter argument that places focus on self reliance and self improvement. I don't suggest we ignore racism. But, focusing on the more important and fulfilling aspects of life marginalizes all the negative ones. The 'political correctness' in this country is absurd. This article is as much about preserving the right to speak freely as it is anything else.

  22. john alvin says:

    I’ve been following Robert ringer for a little over a year now and I have to admit you make a somewhat solid point here. Robert, if your reading this, you may what to reflect a little more on your position, you seem to have a good message but are a bit hypocritical in the very same breath, plus you may want to reverse roles or change them completely because your coming off a little to intrigued by the “brothers”.

  23. Robert Ringer RJR says:

    I don't complain. I opine, which is my job. And like any other opinion writer, I expect to receive flak. So while I think you're being a bit over-technical here, I appreciate your feedback.