Like Gandhi But Taller

Dec 142012
 

Rob ParkerI’ve recently foregone the comfort of cable television in my quest to leap as far off the grid as humanly possible, so when a colleague shared with me a text snippet of Rob Parker’s comments, I was totally unaware. As I went online to view the actual clips I was floored. Parker, in his role on ESPNs First Take, was asked to comment on statements made by RG3 on December 12th. At a press conference RG3 said:

“You want to be defined by your work ethic, the person that you are, your character, your personality. That’s what I strive [for]. I am an African American, in America, and that will never change. But I don’t have to be defined by that.”

Parker, when asked his view on those comments, openly shared his thoughts:

Parker’s comments, as asinine as I believe them to be, reflect a perspective that is unfortunately common to many people and sadly many of the African-Americans who are most damaged by this belief. The idea of there being a “real” African-American experience, was born out of a culture of subjugation, popularized by media and perpetuated by those who view it as a badge of honor. In this view male Blackness is about a hyper-masculinity that dictates how one should dress, what music you like, who you should socialize and date, how you wear your hair (because braids are so urban!) how you speak and how you engage in the political process (or if you should engage at all). That fact that these ideas are out there didn’t surprise me and given Parker’s history of dumbassery, the messenger was also not a surprise.

To me the comments of Stephen A. Smith are the more telling. Normally bombastic, incendiary and often stupid, Stephen A. is not known for restraint, but he almost eloquently stated a very simple yet profound concept; how RG3 lives his life is none of our business. Now with that said, I found it interesting that Stephen A. did not take a more aggressive stance (in line with the nature of the show) in repudiating what Parker had just said. I believe that Stephen A. was: A) a stunned that Parker just screwed up so badly and B) unsure of how to respond because as unpopular as it is, he knew Parker was speaking to something that many folks think. Smith was clear to state:

” …he can live his life. I don’t judge someone’s blackness based on those kinds of things. I just don’t do that. I’m not that kind of guy.”

With the unsaid implication being that I know there are those folks out there but I’m not one of them. A smart move, because I have to believe Parker will be radioactive for a while.

What I hope happens is that athletes, media personalities and other journalists line up and verbally eviscerate Parker. He needs to be an example of what happens when any one person sets him/herself up as the arbiter of any race/culture/ethnicity, especially when that person is coming from a place of pure, uninformed opinion. I am interested to watch the response from the worldwide leader. They have the power to make this issue go away partially by ignoring it. For better or worse ESPN makes sports news and if they don’t give it air then it might fall quickly out of prominence. If nothing else hopefully pieces like this will keep the discussion alive. And remind Parker that he does not speak for anyone but himself.

Oct 302012
 

The most recent Cowboys loss, a heartbreaking affair suffered at the hands of the hated Giants was at sometimes painful and at other times exhilarating to watch. And though it dropped the Boys to 3-4 and 78 games behind the Giants in the NFC East race, it also perfectly encapsulated why I’m a Cowboys fan. More specifically it stood as a shining example of why I love Tony Romo. Full disclosure, I am at Eastern Illinois alum (Go Panthers!!) but that’s not why I’m a Romo fan, it’s not the rags to riches story of undrafted player making good either. The reason I am such a huge supporter of #9 is that he is an electrifying, maddening, exciting, nerve-racking football player who single handedly can win or lose a game in the blink of an eye. Much like the hot girl from the wrong side of the tracks, who’s just as likely to stab you as kiss you. With Romo you never know and I find the thrill of discovery fun to watch.

Last Sunday’s game was a beautiful illustration of this. Bad throws, picks, pick 6’s and poor clock management. But just as I am about to lose hope; laser precise throws, sack-saving scrambles and that wonderful improvisation that turns a loss into a first down. Romo embodies the team he quarterbacks; undeniable talent, a bit too much hype and very little production when it counts. That being said, the potential is what makes them so compelling. At this moment sitting at 3-4, the Cowboys have the ability to either run off five straight wins or lose the next five, there’s just no way to know. I believe that Rob Ryan has vastly improved the defense, the special teams are solid and there is a good mix of veterans and young players on the squad. The X factor in all of this remains Romo. When he is on the offense hums in a way that makes me believe we can beat anybody. He smiles, has a bit of swagger and his energy seems to flow through the whole team. At these times, the ceiling for the team seems to be the Super Bowl. Its these times that I obviously enjoy the most. As a fan I want to watch my team do well and it’s a nice feeling to listen to the folks on ESPN and NFL Network wax poetic about the great win. But just having the opportunity to watch Romo ply his trade to me is worth the ride because you truly never know what will happen. Sports is entertainment and the Cowboys are without a doubt entertaining.

Many fans might be irritated or maddened by this startling inconsistency, but when you put it in the context of who the Boys are it makes sense. Considering the team has an egomaniacal, money hungry owner, a crappy o-line, has had glorified coordinators as head coaches for the last several years and plays in a sterile, noiseless mega-mall, the current situation ain’t all that bad. Perhaps I’ve just been battered into accepting mediocrity after watching Romo quarterback for the last five years or maybe I’ve just settled into a zen phase of my life. Whatever the reason, I’m taking the Cowboys regardless of who they’re playing and I’m still anticipating Romo starting in the Super Bowl in New Orleans this year.

Aug 092012
 

A week or so back, Jerry Jones shot off his mouth as usual. This time it was about “Beating the Giants Ass” when the teams face off to open the season in September. This of course set off a round of ESPN/Fox Sports/NFL Network/CNNSI talking heads debating or writing about whether his comments mattered or not. For as much airplay as this latest bout of verbal diarrhea garnered, there seemed to be just a many commenters asking “why in the hell does it matter?” The Boys have not been among the upper echelon of NFL teams since the mid 1990’s. Whether it’s the merry-go-round of coaches, overall mediocre drafting, dubious free agent acquisitions (Joey Galloway, Ryan Leaf, Pacman Jones) and outright terrible trades (Roy “The Legend” Williams, nuff said) there has been much more futility than success. How is it that we pay so much attention to a team that by all accounts should get as much airplay as the Seattle Seahawks, a team with a nearly identical winning percentage since 2000? Because the Dallas Cowboys, Americas Team sets the platinum standard for success and everyone knows it.

In 1979, while trying to come up with a title for an NFL Networks recap of the 1978 Dallas Cowboys, a VP at NFL films thought the phrase “Americas Team” would be catchy so he went with it. Since then, the Cowboys have become the NFL’s signature team. Although established in 1960, well after such founding fathers as the Bears, Packers and Steelers. The Boys captured America first by not only winning (20 consecutive winning seasons from 1966-1985), but winning with a panache that turned fans of the NFL into either supporters or haters. The Cowboys made NFL cheerleaders glamorous; they were the inspiration for the best football movie ever and their home field is worthy of screen time in not one but two television show intros (it’s the same show remade but so what). The Cowboys do everything better than the rest of the NFL. You want icons of morality and faith; they gave you Roger Staubach, Tom Landry and Troy Aikman. You want Innovation? How about the Flex defense, iconic stadiums the marketing of aforementioned cheerleaders and revolutionizing the identification of new revenue streams . And of course the Cowboy do bad better than anyone else. From Hollywood Henderson doing liquid cocaine during games, to Michael Irvin and Primetime doing every woman in sight to a freakin “white house” for recreational activities, nobody parties like the Boys.

Now lest you think I am being facetious with this piece, I am a lifelong fan and the fact is that sustained time in the public eye has made the Cowboys the biggest draw in the juggernaut that is the NFL. I believe it’s a combination of of our fascination with the rich (Dallas is the most valuable sports franchise in the U.S. and second in the world according to Forbes Magazine), our appetite for schadenfreude and our appreciation of sustained excellence (they own the record for most consecutive winning seasons). There are teams that burst onto the scene and catch the national eye for a while (Patriots, Saints, Colts) teams that enjoy radical ups and downs in popularity over decades (Packers, Steelers, Bears) but no team has held the nations interest for as long and consistently as Dallas.

In this summer of concussion lawsuits, bountygate and Robert Kraft, I’m pretty sure Mr. Goddell just wants people to focus on football. The fact is that win or lose, the national media, fanatics and casual fans will continue to tune into the Cowboys. This the type of sustainability the NFL needs and if we happen to get more Tony Romo backwards cap sideline time out of it, then so be it.

Jul 052012
 

Rat’s Note: Next in our series of predictions is Like Gandhi, But Taller, or LGBT as we call him. Gandhi is going with a Texas-sized Super Bowl smackdown.

NFL REGULAR SEASON

AFC EAST
New England

12-4

#1 Seed
Buffalo

8-8

New York Jets

7-9

Miami Dolphins

6-10

AFC NORTH
Pittsburgh

11-5

#3 Seed
Baltimore

10-6

#5 Seed
Cincinnati

9-7

#6 Seed
Cleveland

5-11

AFC SOUTH
Houston

11-5

#2 Seed
Tennessee

8-8

Jacksonville

4-12

Indianapolis

4-12

AFC WEST
Denver

9-7

#4 Seed
San Diego

8-8

Kansas City

7-9

Oakland

3-13

NFC EAST
Dallas

10-6

#4 Seed
New York Giants

10-6

#5 Seed
Philadelphia

9-7

Washington

4-12

NFC NORTH
Green Bay

13-3

#1 Seed
Chicago

10-6

#6 Seed
Detroit

9-7

Minnesota

5-11

NFC SOUTH
Atlanta

10-6

#3 Seed
New Orleans

9-7

Tampa Bay

7-9

Carolina

6-10

NFC WEST
San Francisco

11-5

#2 seed
Seattle

9-7

Arizona

6-10

St. Louis

4-12

NFL POST-SEASON
AFC Wildcard Round
Baltimore over Denver
Pittsburgh over Cincinnati
NFC Wildcard Round

Chicago over Atlanta

Dallas over Giants

AFC Divisional Round

New England over Baltimore

Houston over Pittsburgh

NFC Divisional Round

Dallas over Green Bay

San Francisco over Chicago

AFC Championship

Houston over New England

NFC Championship

Dallas over San Francisco

Super Bowl

Dallas over Houston

POST-SEASON AWARDS
Most Valuable Player – Calvin Johnson
Offensive Player of the Year – Calvin Johnson
Defensive Player of the Year – DeMarcus Ware
Offensive Rookie of the Year – Trent Richardson
Defensive Rookie of the Year – Morris Claiborne
Comeback Player of the Year – Peyton Manning
Coach of the Year – Jason Garrett