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.