Aldon Smith: Troubled Man

Smith is a young man blessed with considerable athletic ability and not a bit of good sense.

I don’t really want to talk about football in April though it was cold enough yesterday to play football. I don’t want to, but as a San Francisco 49ers fan it’s hard not to talk about football in April even though the team stopped playing in January. It’s what they’ve been doing off the field since then that has made for the worst off-season I can ever recall for the Niners.

Since the Seattle Seahawks sent the Niners in the NFC Championship for the right to slap the crap out of the hapless Denver Broncos, the 49ers have been headlines news in sports pages from California to Columbus and for all the wrong reasons.   The head coach was supposedly leaving to take over the Cleveland Browns.   Then the coach was staying to continue working with a general manager he barely spoke to.  Then the starting center was busted for drunk driving.  Then, Chris Culliver,  a cornerback who made an ass of himself during last year’s Super Bowl by making homophobic comments followed that up by getting injured and missing all of the 2013 season.   He started this year by getting involved in a hit-and-run and faces criminal charges.  Then Colin Kapernick, who was hoping for a reworked contract, was named in an investigation about a woman who says she was drugged and left naked in a hotel room and woke up to find herself in a hospital.   No charges have yet been filed against Kapernick and wide receiver Quiton Patton.

Then Aldon Smith, a dominant force on Sundays and a train wreck every other day tested the sense of humor of TSA agents at Los Angeles Airport when he claimed he had a bomb.   He didn’t, but those humorless TSA agents arrested him anyway as the 49ers Off-season from Hell continues.

Once is an Accident, Twice is a Coincidence, Three Times is a Pattern. Then there’s All-Pro linebacker’s Aldon Smith‘s crime spree where screwing up three times isn’t a pattern. It’s Friday.

The 49ers have to decide by May 3 whether to pick up the option year of Smith’s contract to avoid him walking away as a free agent in 2015. Or being driven away to prison. Smith would see his pay raised from $3 million to cashing checks worth $9.75 million if the team chooses to take the plunge. They shouldn’t. Smith is too volatile, too erratic, too undependable and too prone to trouble.

Check the record.

Four arrests including two for drunk driving. Gun possession charges including an assault weapon, bomb threats. These are not the acts of someone who is simply high-spirited.

“Man, thinkin’ is hard!”

Smith isn’t the most troubled player the 49ers have ever had. Besides Haley, there was Lawrence Phillips and of course, O.J. Simpson, though he hadn’t killed anybody when he was wearing the crimson and gold. At least nobody we know of.

The old NFL cliché about injuries is, “You can’t make plays from the locker room.” You can’t make plays from the courtroom either and that’s where Smith will be spending a lot of  time.   The legendary Bill Walsh was one of the least sentimental coaches in football history. Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott, Roger Craig, Tom Rathman, and Jerry Rice were all-stars for the 49ers and Walsh and his successor, George Seifert sent every one of them out-of-town. Walsh’s philosophy was cold, but pragmatic: “Better to get rid of ‘em a year too soon than a year too late.”

Aldon Smith is an unquestionable talent and losing him would hurt the 49ers in the short run, but he is replaceable. Every player in the NFL is.

The Niners have been here before with a player who had All-Pro talent and an all-time head case. That was Charles Haley, another superfreaky talented pass rusher who was a terror on the field and just terrible off it.

He simply wore out his welcome in San Francisco with several well-publicized outbursts even though he was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1991.

In one notable episode, he got so upset after a 1991 loss to the Los Angeles Raiders that the 49ers called on his former teammate, Ronnie Lott, to come out of the Raiders locker room to calm him down.

Coach George Seifert of the 49ers has said that Haley’s departure “helped team chemistry.”

Hall of Famer Bill Walsh never coached Aldon Smith, but it’s hard to think he would have for very long.

“You never knew when he was going to go off,” 49ers running back Dexter Carter said. “Other guys would kid around and tease, but Charles was different. He was meaner. I didn’t like the guy, and I told him that to his face. And believe me, I’m not alone.”

Haley later learned he was bipolar. Maybe Smith should give him a call and chat?

I’ve heard on sports radio Smith needs help, not condemnation. If Indianapolis Colts Robert Irsay has alcohol issues, it’s already known Smith does after he voluntarily checking into a rehab center with 49ers owner Jeb York standing by his side in the locker room and the approval of Goodell. Neither man will be as accommodating to the troubled linebacker from here on out.

We’ve passed the point of diminishing returns on this dude. The 49ers have become the new Raiders of the NFL with all the criminality and stupidity and Smith is Public Enemy #1. Even if he somehow holds on to his place on this team (and by now it should be by the thinnest of threads), how long is the suspension going to be coming from Roger Goodell‘s office? The commissioner was probably already ticked off by the poor box office performance of Draft Day and when he heard what spectacularly stupid thing Smith had done this time he had to thinking, “Ge’ez, not THIS guy again?”

Giving Smith four games off without pay would be a gift, but Goodell could double the punishment and it still might not get through to Smith how tenuous his future employment in the NFL is. Maybe half or all of a season without football would get through to him. But nothing has before so why should believe it will now?

I hate the idea of Aldon Smith in a Seattle Seahawk uniform terrorizing the 49ers two or more times a season, but I’m beginning to hate the idea of Aldon Smith in a 49ers uniform at all.

Aldon_Smith

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A Real American Horror Story

is this the face of a criminal? Or a victim?

A woman should not leave two children in a truck in the sun with the window partly open and the keys left in the ignition. Not even if she’s homeless, has no one to watch her kids and chooses to take an awful risk so that she can make the job interview that just might be her path out of poverty and desperate decisions.

When you’re faced with nothing but bad or terrible choices who wouldn’t try to choose the least awful option? Shanesha Taylor shouldn’t have done it, but she did it and all it got her was a week behind bars, her children taken from her and the scorn of every morally superior idiot who never committed a sin and is armed and ready with a pocketful of rocks.

So much cynicism. So little heavy lifting to prove this story isn’t every bit as tragic a damning indictment of both bad personal decisions and an American society that doesn’t give two slimy shits about poor people as long as they stay out of sight and die quietly in their hovels.

Is anyone really giving Shanesha Taylor a pass for the bad decision to leave two infants in a locked car? No, but nobody has nominated Taylor as Mother of the Year material either.   There are plenty of creepy politicians like Paul Ryan happy to exploit the most helpless while accepting back-slapping praise for guns, not butter budgets.

Contemporary conservatives like Ryan  backhand away any concern for someone like Taylor. His ilk are determined to punish people like Taylor for her sins. The sin of being a poor Black woman with children who probably doesn’t vote the right way.

Shanesha Taylor without tears.

I understand Ryan’s lack of compassion for and inability to identify with Taylor’s plight. They have never been an impoverished, homeless and desperate Black woman with two kids facing a bad choice and a worse choice.    Any indignation I feel for Taylor’s irresponsible decision is tempered by sympathy for the dilemma that drove her to make it.

“I have no mercy or compassion in me for a society that will crush people, and then penalize them for not being able to stand up under the weight.” Malcolm X said that. I second it.

Like me, he was a Black man who could see the connections and contradictions of Shanesha Taylor’s story and those whom self-righteously penalize her for being too weak to carry the weight of a system that fails poor women and children with disgusting certainty.

How many Wall Street executives are sleeping on a thin mattress with their backs to the wall lest they receive a midnight visit from a Nazi skinhead with a swastika face tattoo? Think of all those corrupt Congresscritters who resign to “spend more time with their families” as well as their mistresses and boy toys on the side. If leaving infants in a truck in the heat of the Arizona day is grounds for legal sanction then what should be done with a president, vice-president, National Security Adviser and Secretary of Defense who lie an entire country into a phony war and kill nearly 5,000 U.S. troops and possibly a million Iraqi citizens?

If George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld don’t deserve to be arrested for war crimes, can’t they at least have the goddamn decency to hide in their holes like the criminal scum they are? Why hasn’t someone performed a citizens arrest yet and marched the lot of them into The Hague or at least a Supermax prison?

This is what real criminal behavior looks like.

Putting Taylor behind bars may satiate the need to make her pay for her bad judgment, but it glosses over how states like Arizona balance the books on the backs of their least affluent and most needy citizens eventually creating “solutions” as dire as the original problems.

Criminalizing poverty is insane. Conservatives have made it their mission to slash and gut social programs designed specifically to assist women like Shanesha Taylor. Welfare, daycare and childcare, food stamps, homeless shelters, jobs programs, WIC, and anything else that isn’t a sacred cow like tax cuts and military spending.

A tax cut wouldn’t have helped Taylor and neither will Paul Ryan’s latest punish the poor Congressional budget. The Republican Party wants people to learn how to catch their own fish instead of sitting around and waiting for someone to give them fish to eat. They forget how hard it is to catch a fish when you can’t afford to buy a pole or bait.

Probation, jail time, and the other suggested corrective measures for Taylor show the disdain of the well-fed and markedly unsympathetic for a woman who doesn’t look like them, doesn’t belong in their circles they travel in and whose circumstances they can’t begin to conceive.

Conservatives like the idea of poor people working, but they want them to suffer a bit for whatever little help they receive and if they can be humiliated and have their dignity peeled away from their body in strips, that’s always good for a laugh.

When they actually break down in tears as Shanesha Taylor did, then it’s downright hilarious.

Taylor is, we are told, a bad mother. A loser. A dope who probably made dopey and bad decisions all her life so we must hold her up to contempt and compare her to welfare cheats and con artists.

But race has nothing to do with it. Gender has nothing to do with it. Poverty has nothing to do with it and how do we know this? We don’t. We just say we do because then its all of the individual’s fault and society is blameless.

American Injustice.

Taylor lives in an America most Americans don’t see because she cannot claim “affluenza” to escape responsibility.  Pleading she would not fare well in prison  is not a defense available to her.  Any society that has no fairness, understanding or compassion in it for desperate people is a society with no goodness or mercy in it and is not a society that can be defended.

“This is America’s opportunity to help bridge the gulf between the haves and the have-nots. The question is whether America will do it. There is nothing new about poverty. What is new is that we now have the techniques and the resources to get rid of poverty. The real question is whether we have the will.”

One day we will have to stand before the God of history and we will talk in terms of things we’ve done. Yes, we will be able to say we built gargantuan bridges to span the seas, we built gigantic buildings to kiss the skies. Yes, we made our submarines to penetrate oceanic depths. We brought into being many other things with our scientific and technological power.

It seems that I can hear the God of history saying, “That was not enough! But I was hungry, and ye fed me not. I was naked, and ye clothed me not. I was devoid of a decent sanitary house to live in, and ye provided no shelter for me. And consequently, you cannot enter the kingdom of greatness. If ye do it unto the least of these, my brethren, ye do it unto me.” That’s the question facing America today.”

~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Beyond Vietnam — A Time to Break the Silence” delivered on April 4th 1967

 

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Collision Course: Captain America vs. Superman vs. Batman

Let’s hear it Old Glory!

 

There are plenty of reviews for Captain America: The Winter Soldier that opened last weekend to kick off the summer movie season (in April?) and pocketed a tidy $93 million dollars even before I sat down in my seat. This isn’t another one of them. It’s just a few thoughts I had that aren’t spoilers, but one might be “spoilerish.”

Saw the fuck out of the flick on Sunday. It’s really good, though I wouldn’t go so far as some to call it “Marvel’s Dark Knight.” Pump ya brakes and slow ya roll.   It is a fun time in the dark, but there’s no Heath Ledger performance anywhere in sight. Certainly not from the Winter Soldier.

If Kevin Feige reads this, it is time for a Black Widow movie. I was surprised by how much screen time Scarlett Johannson had but this was far and away her best turn as Natasha Romanoff. If we wait for DC to finally give Wonder Woman her shot, we’ll be waiting around for another five years or so. I’m convinced the audience will turn out for Black Widow kicking ass in her own movie.

Come on, Kev. Make it happen!

DC/Warner Bros. is in a completely reactive mode where they have squandered their advantages of having a line of iconic super heroes, yet have utterly and completely failed to exploit that edge into successful franchise films without Batman or Superman.

Over the next two years movies featuring Marvel properties include The Amazing Spider-Man 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past and the Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man(?!) and The Avengers: Age of Ultron all up and taking swings at box office supremacy before Superman vs. Batman finally get up to deck in 2016. Two years with nothing to offer is an eternity for a genre of films that has to peak sometime (but hasn’t as of yet).

Oh, and Captain America 3 is already claiming the same 2016 opening week as Supes vs. Bats (does Cap die and Bucky/Winter Soldier pick up the shield as it played out in the comics?). You would think Marvel has to be nuts to go mano a mano against DC’s biggest guns, but they claimed the release date first.

Both of these 500 pound gorillas can’t occupy the same weekend without one being severely wounded by the other. Someone is going to blink and move out of this opening week and I’m willing to bet it will be the one that already moved once already.

Cap ain't afraid of no Superman and his Bat-Buddy either.

Cap ain’t afraid of no Superman and his Bat-Buddy either.

I would expect in a head-to-head competition, Captain America 3 would falter against the joint might of Superman-Batman-Wonder Woman and whomever else the hell DC stuffs into the movie, but if blunts their box office momentum and it doesn’t open to somewhere in the $100 million range, Warner Brothers will need real superheroes to catch all the falling bodies being tossed out of hi-rise office towers.

The trap DC is in is they have bet their entire superhero film future on one movie. This movie can’t underperform or fall short the way Man of Steel did which barely edged out Thor: The Dark World in profitability.    If you’re a Superman fan, how does a Thunder God most people associate with their high school class on mythology give the Last Son of Krypton a run for the money?

It’s because Marvel has followed a plan to build a universe where even it’s “B”list characters can battle DC’s “A” list heroes to a virtual draw.

Marvel has been able to load its gun with several bullets so even if  Thor misses they still have Iron Man, Captain America, and The Avengers locked and loaded with more possibilities for The Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow and the Falcon. Marvel mastermind Kevin Feige says they have their movies planned out to 2028! The fact that actors like Sebastian Stan (Bucky/Winter Soldier) are signed to do six to nine pictures makes it clear than when Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and others “age out” or are done slipping on the spandex, the franchises will go on and on and on…

I don’t see a similar game plan from DC/Warner. They are dealing with a recast Batman, David Goyer and Zack Snyder turned loose without a Christopher Nolan to reign in their worst excesses (and Nolan disagreed with their decision to have Superman kill Zod).

Nolan is gone to pursue his own vision and while the hope is Snyder/Goyer will successfully set up a Justice League franchise it all hinges on Supes/Bats doing billion dollar business.

It could all come together as planned. But if it doesn’t DC isn’t as well-positioned as Marvel to overcome a cinematic setback.

As for Captain America: The Winter Solider, it’s really good. Easily the best superhero movie I’ve seen since The Avengers. Chris Evans has really grown into the role of Steve Rogers/Captain America. Anthony Mackie’s Falcon is good. Samuel Jackson finally gets to do more as Nick Fury than stand around and glower. Scarlett Johannson surprised me in how central her role was in my enjoyment of the flick.

I give it a solid “B+” and I’d take my wife with me for a second viewing.

"Let's tell Disney to give you your own film right now!"

“Let’s tell Disney to give you your own film right now!”

 

 

 

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A Strained Relationship Between Obama and the Black Press.

 

Has Obama turned a blind eye to the Black press?

Is the bromance between Obama and the Black press over?

Human beings have the unfortunate habit of looking at their own circumstances, incorrectly blaming others for problems of their own making and complaining bitterly it’s the other guy who needs to clean up the act.

Recently, George Curry, editor of the National Newspapers Publishers Association (NNPA), took the easy route and griped how President Obama had shown “disrespect” for the Black press.

“There is a disrespect for the black press that we have not seen in recent years. For example, we have requested — every year — an interview with the president. He can ignore 200 black newspapers and 19 million viewers but he can give one to every stupid white comedian there is on TV, the black ones and the white ones, and has time for all types of buffoonery but they will not respect the black press enough to give us an interview,” Curry said on TVOne’s “NewsOneNow with Roland Martin.”

It’s understandable Curry is bent if Obama opts to talk to a “stupid White comedian” like  Zach Galifianakis and not him, but he underestimates his own importance and misunderstands than in the final push to get the Obamacare enrollment numbers over the top,  the smarter media strategy is to plow resources into a You Tube video that garnered  11 million views of the video, and a 40 percent spike in traffic to Healthcare.gov from the day before.

That doesn’t happen in an interview with The Oklahoma Eagle or any other Black newspaper.    Old media takes it on the chin yet again from new media.   You’d think they’d be accustomed to it by now.

Black want more meetings with Obama like this one in 2010 (Credit: Chuck Kennedy/White House)

Black want more meetings with Obama like this one in 2010 (Credit: Chuck Kennedy/White House)

The president is no different from most of Black America.   The problem isn’t the president pays no attention to the Black press. The problem is the Black press gives him no reason he should.   Their clout within the Black community has withered and faded in the face of competition from Twitter, hip-hop web sites,  bloggers, podcasting and the rest of social media.

Obama does need to spend a little more time with the Black press and throw them a bone now and then to make them happy,  but he didn’t need them in this fight. Black folks are three times in favor of healthcare reform. It was White folks–specifically YOUNG White folks he needed to recruit. The Black press can’t even deliver young Black folks. Obama would get more attention from an interview with World Star Hip-Hop than the Chicago Defender.    The support for Obamacare by Blacks is three times that of Whites.   Clearly the White House doesn’t believe it needed Curry and company to sell the program to Black America.

If the Black press feels disrespected it earned that disrespect.   Most of its wounds are self-inflicted and chief among them are a failure to adapt to both changing demographics, embrace the technological innovations that could have resuscitated it and enabled it to thrive in the 21st century, but that takes money and the willingness to try something new and different.   I haven’t seen a lot of publishers in the NNPA who aren’t convinced yet their problems are due to a failure to adapt and that is why they don’t matter all that much.

Black journalism has a proud history and a sketchy future.  The audience they need to thrive is made of up young people who don’t read Black newspapers, don’t see how it is relevant to their lives and can smell the musky, antiquated thinking and unwillingness to meet them where they are.

As a former editor and reporter of the Columbus Post newspaper, I saw first-hand the push-and-pull between the reporters, editors, photographers, and staffers who were committed to creating a quality product and the publishers who were more interesting in protecting their turf, currying favor with favorite politicians, pushing their pet projects, schmoozing with old cronies, nursing grudges and settling scores with other prominent people in the Black community.

The tragedy is there has never been a greater need for a healthy, robust, dynamic and energized Black Press. Many of the advances made by African-Americans are under assault by a hostile Republican Congress, a fickle and unprincipled Democratic Party, right-wing activists from the Tea Party to the U.S. Supreme Court.   Now more than ever the Black Press is needed to tell our truth to our people and now more than ever it seems unprepared for the task.

If Bams gives the Black press the “sit at the little kids table” treatment, what have they done to earn a place with the adults?  Not historically. but from a contemporary and serious journalism perspective.  Break any major stories? Do any enterprise or investigative stories lately? Earn any Pulitzer Prize nominations?

Politicians and the press maintain a relationship of mutual need  that at times has to become adversarial.   Curry, Martin and the Black press wants more respect from Obama they need to realize they need to do more to get it.   Simply grumbling over the Obama Administration making them them sit at the little kids table doesn’t cut it.   They need to raise their game as journalists to a point where even the president realizes it is politically advantageous to keep the Black press in the loop.   Right now there’s no particular price to pay for Obama if he doesn’t set out the good china and seat them at the grown-ups table.

The president can do better but so can the Black press.

Martin wants more face time with President Obama, but will he get it?

 

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Ganging Up On DeSean Jackson

 

DeSean_Jackson_gang

Wow. He’s holding his fingers in a way I never have. Well, that settles it. DeSean Jackson MUST be a thug!

 

The NFL is a criminal league.    Name your favorite teams and there are current or former drunk drivers, drug addicts, wife beaters, thieves, thugs, alcoholics, steroid gobblers, perverts and more than a few murderers.   But nothing scares a pro team’s general manager than the suggestion a player’s truest affiliation is a gang affiliation.

After the Aaron Hernandez scandal, the NFL is hypersensitive to even the most threadbare of connections between a baller and gang-bangers.    That paranoia that the NFL shield can be tainted by gangs leads to some strange actions and nothing was stranger than the Philadelphia Eagles decision to cut their All-Pro wide receiver, DeSean Jackson for what seemed to be his ties to the Crips.    After his release Jackson issued a denial of the rumors, but the Eagles loss will likely turn out to be a gain for another less easily intimidated team.

Jackson has been the best wide receiver on the Eagles since they took him in the draft six years ago. He’s also “high maintenance” as many wide receivers in the NFL. Call it “Terrell Owens Disease.” He pouts. He brags. He disrupts. He pisses people off. But he can do a lot of great things on the football field which is why the Eagles were paying him $10 million a season.

Jackson apparently knows someone in a gang who was accused, indicted, tried and acquitted for a murder. Okay, a lot of us know someone with a sketchy past. Jackson has tats and he’s thrown up his hand in a way some folks think might be a gang sign. Some say it’s not.

If throwing what someone thinks is a gang sign makes you a gang banger does sitting in a garage make you a car?

He wasn’t shooting anyone and he wasn’t breaking the law. All I see is a young Black man doing things I see a lot of young Black men doing and they aren’t shooting anyone or breaking any laws either.   Young Black men with tats and pants that hang low and surly attitudes are not America’s favorite sort of Colored People.

Either way Jackson has not been arrested or convicted for anything more serious than rolling in a car with the windows too darkly tinted. Last season someone jacked his crib while he was at a game and stole guns, cash and bling. Suspicious maybe, but nobody has proof it has anything gang-related to it. DeSean Jackson may be a diva, but there is NO proof as the LAPD themselves have stated that he is in a gang or has any association with any criminal acts by gangs.

But simply mentioning the word “gang” is enough for the predominantly White NFL coaches, general managers, owners and officials to clutch the pearls and crap their pants. That is what seems to have happened here and the Eagles dropped Jackson like he was radioactive, but not before strongly hinting it was his associations with dicey characters that led to his abrupt exit just days after the head coach said everything was cool.

English: Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeS...

English: Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson posing for a picture after the game against the Seattle Seahawks on November 2, 2008 at Qwest Field. The Eagles defeated the Seahawks 26-7. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nick Foles, who unseated Michael Vick as the starting QB, had a pretty good season because he had Jackson to draw fire from the secondary and slow the pass rush. Who’s gonna do that now? Not Riley “I’ll Fight Every Nigger Here” Cooper, that’s for sure.

But Cooper is a Kelly guy and Jackson is not.

From a Football Sense 101 perspective it defies logic. You don’t give away your best offensive weapon for nothing. You don’t keep one guy in Riley Cooper who done almost nothing in the pros and throw away another who will step into a starting role on nearly any of 31 other teams.

This was a spectacularly STUPID move by the Eagles that should tick off their fans and will likely come back to bite them in the butt.   Maybe the Eagles simply decided they didn’t want to deal with a petulant and moody malcontent who demands the ball and is unhappy when he doesn’t see it enough.   Maybe they didn’t want to pay him $10 million a season to shag overthrown long bombs from Foles.    Nobody knows exactly why Kelly and the Eagles brain trust thought they would be a better team without Jackson than they were with him.

What is obvious is the team tried to slime their best player and make Jackson radioactive to scare away potential suitors for his talents.   The whisper campaign by the Eagles and the sports media to slime Jackson was as gutless as it was transparent.    I never was a fan of Jackson though I admired his game without admiring him.   Now I’d love to see him stay in the NFC East and get two chances every season to make the Eagles look like fools

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Eagles Badly Mishandled Release of DeSean Jackson

Jeff Winbush:

If he doesn’t end up in the bay with an “SF” on his helmet, I’d laugh like hell if DeSean Jackson ended up as a Giant, Cowboy or Indigenous Person and came back to light up the Beagles twice a season. They deserve nothing less for their ham-fisted attempt to trash Jackson after cutting him loose in a cowardly move that defies Football Logic 101.

English: Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeS...
The ever-perceptive Philadelphia-based sports journalist, Chris Murray, details how the Eagles front office blew it big time.

Chip Kelly might want to take out a restraining order against DeSean Jackson.

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Originally posted on The Chris Murray Report:

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Former Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson has been contacted by several teams since he was cut by the team on Friday.

Former Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson has been contacted by several teams since he was cut by the team on Friday.

PHILADELPHIA—In the previous column on DeSean Jackson’s unceremonious release from the Eagles, I refrained from outright criticizing the team’s handling of this situation because I wanted to hear it from them rather than rely on second-hand information or the speculation from other publications.

Instead of Eagles general manager Howie Roseman and Chip Kelly addressing the issue head-on and honestly, they chose not talk to the media that covers the team. Their silence allowed a NJ.com story to portray Jackson as a thug with ties to a Los Angeles street gang so they could come up with a convenient justification to cut him and not have to pay him.

The Los Angeles Police Department told the Philadelphia…

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Kobe Bryant: Dumb Jock

Kobe Bryant is a great baller, not a great thinker. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

There are many great sports figures I respect, but only a few I admire. Among that small (and getting smaller) number are Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown and both for their achievements within their chosen endeavors as well as the bravery to stand up as proud and strong Black men no matter what it cost them (and it cost them both plenty).

We should celebrate these men while they are still with us and mourn them when they are gone. Not just because neither boxing or football are the games they were when Ali and Brown towered over them, but because whatever factory of courage produced these American idols has long since shut down the line, closed up shop, and gone out of business.

There are still great sports figures whose achievements want respect, but far fewer whose pride isn’t simply ugly egotism and whose strength fades away when they attempt to express informed opinions on matters they have no grasp of.

Which brings us to Kobe Bean Bryant, the “Black Mamba” and gradually descending star of the Los Angeles Lakers whose 17th season was limited to six games due to injuries. Bryant wasn’t able to slow the lottery-bound Lakers’ descent to the second-worst record in the NBA Western Conference.   Still, while he can’t knock down jumpers, he can lob bricks at his team, his coach, and rivals like the Miami Heat’s LeBron James.

Speaking in a New Yorker profile, Bryant slammed King James for a 2012 photo of the Miami Heat team dressed in hoodies, heads bowed in respectful homage to Trayvon Martin, the teenager slain by vigilante George Zimmerman. Bryant swatted away what he perceived as a knee-jerk attempt by James to show racial solidarity with Martin.

“I won’t react to something just because I’m supposed to, because I’m an African-American. That argument doesn’t make any sense to me. So we want to advance as a society and a culture, but, say, if something happens to an African-American we immediately come to his defense? Yet you want to talk about how far we’ve progressed as a society? Well, we’ve progressed as a society, then don’t jump to somebody’s defense just because they’re African-American. You sit and you listen to the facts just like you would in any other situation, right? So I won’t assert myself.”

That should be easy.  When has Bryant ever asserted himself as an African-American?

Bryant was born in suburban Philadelphia, but his dad Joe “Jellybean” Bryant moved the family to Italy when Kobe was six. Kobe spent much of his early years outside of the U.S. speaks both Italian and Spanish and got his name from the Japanese beef his parents saw on a restaurant menu and maintains a love/hate relationship with the town of his birth.

 

Kobe’s not completely wrong.  Supporting someone just because they’re Black is the wrong thing to do, but LeBron and the Heat players didn’t support Trayvon Martin because he was Black.   They supported him because he was innocent.  They supported him because he was a victim.  They supported him because Black people who aren’t obscenely wealthy and totally clueless realize superstar status won’t protect them because they are still Black.

Did Kobe not notice there were a lot of White people who were rocking hoodies in support of Trayvon?

I’ve never warmed up to Bryant. Love his game. Hate everything else unrelated to his game. He’s never been a leader, never been an inspiration, never been anyone worth looking up to. He’s a “Me” guy not a “We” guy. It’s all about him and never about anyone else. Kobe, like Michael Jordan, has spent the majority of his life saying nothing about race in America.  He should  keep quiet about subjects he knows nothing about and he knows nothing about Trayvon Martin.

Bryant is a Black men whose identification with how African-Americans experience life is suspect.  This is something Barack Obama was accused of, but Bryant is living the dream where his wealth and success seemingly insulates him from harsh realities.

Brown caught heat last December for criticizing Bryant’s Switzerland approach to race matters.

“He is somewhat confused about culture, because he was brought up in another country,” Brown said on The Arsenio Hall Show . (Bryant spent part of his childhood in Italy, where his father played professional basketball.) “[Bryant] doesn’t quite fit what’s happening in America.”

In the 1960s, Brown pulled together a collection of top black athletes who shared his social activism. “If I had to call that summit all over,” he said, “there would be some athletes I wouldn’t call. Kobe would be one of them.”

Bryant took to Twitter to fire back at Brown with a sneering, “A ‘Global’ African American is an inferior shade to ‘American’ African American?? #hmmm. that doesn’t sound very #Mandela or #DrKing sir.”

It’s impressive Bryant knows who Mandela and King were but he doesn’t get how they laid their lives on the line for the cause of racial and social justice.  Jim Brown did too.  Bryant believes he floats about mundane trivialities of being Black in the post-racial paradise he made for himself.  Kobe is in La-La Land.  His above it all attitude mirrors that of another L.A. based superstar,  O. J. Simpson.

The hoodie is not the problem. The perception of the hoodie is.

Not a Black thing. More like a human thing.

The late sportswriter Ralph Wiley deconstructed the Juice’s attempted Escape From Blackness fantasy in an ESPN column and it still applies to the Black Mamba. “O.J. tried and almost succeeded at being everything but a black guy — and, more important, his own guy.”

“He fooled himself. He fooled white people. But he didn’t fool very many black people. Not the ones who knew him well, anyway.”

Who really knows Kobe Bryant?   Kobe has never before taken a stand on any social issue or controversy in the news.  This is why he kept his mouth shut.  He knew something stupid would fall out of it.

Bryant took to Twitter again, but this time there was a decidedly different message dribbling out of his brain.

“Travon Martin was wronged THATS my opinion and thats what I believe the FACTS showed. The system did not work #myopinion #tweetURthoughts”

Bryant hasn’t asserted himself on yet is the proper spelling on George Zimmerman’s victim. It’s “Trayvon,” notTravon.” You would think a guy named “Kobe” would sweat a detail like that.

It is undeniable Kobe Bryant is among the select few in the history of NBA who as an athlete and winner belongs among the few, the elite and clearly superior talents of the game.

It is equally undeniable he is a supreme jerk off it.

"So what was up with the hoody, man?'

“So what was up with the hoody, man?’

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Paul Ryan Throws Out Race Bait. Catches Himself Looking Racist.

A race hustler gets caught hustling race.

Paul Ryan, former Republican vice-president candidate and notorious Ayn Rand denier had some interesting thoughts on the problem of poverty.

He probably should have kept them to himself.

At a town hall meeting in Racine, WI on Wednesday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) was confronted by a black constituent about his remarks disparaging lazy “inner city” men as a drain on the economy.

Think Progress reported that 61-year-old Alfonso Gardner of Racine asked the erstwhile vice presidential candidate exactly what he meant when he said “we have got this tailspin of culture in our inner cities in particular of men not working, and just generations of men not even thinking about working and learning the value and culture of work.”

“You said what you meant,” said Gardner to Ryan during the question and answer section of his appearance. When Ryan said “inner city,” Gardner contended, it was “a code word for black.”

Ryan acted offended that Gardner brought race into the discussion, saying, “There is nothing whatsoever about race in my comments at all.”

Gardner was overreacting, he said, “I think when we throw these charges [of racism] around, it should be based on something.”

Think Progress’ Scott Keyes spoke to Gardner after the event, who said, “He’s out here shucking and jiving. He’s been in Congress eight terms and just now talking about poverty?”

The go-to guide for the sophisticated bigot.

The go-to guide for the sophisticated bigot.

Furthermore, when Ryan made his remarks on Bill Bennett’s AM radio talk show “Morning in America,” he referenced white supremacist writer Charles Murray, who the Southern Poverty Law Center said uses “racist pseudoscience and misleading statistics to argue that social inequality is caused by the genetic inferiority” of African-Americans.

Maybe Ryan actually has a genuine interest in bettering the plight of those generations of inner city males who aren’t working.

Maybe.

More likely Ryan is blowing a particularly high-pitched dog whistle where the problem of inner city Black men not working is based on the fact they’re Black men living in the inner city.

I’d be more inclined to get Cryin’ Ryan the benefit of the doubt if he wasn’t referring to theories of a slob like Charles Murray, the living half of the two twits who wrote the spectacularly racist The Bell Curve and he wasn’t running this smack on a radio show hosted by Bill Bennett, a former Secretary of Education who once told a caller, “I do know that it’s true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could — if that were your sole purpose — you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down.”

If Paul Ryan gave a shit about the serious issues of Black men and the conditions they face in the inner city, he’d get off his dead ass and support some legislation that might put people to work like the president’s American Jobs Act that has languished in Congress since 2011.

But Ryan doesn’t give a shit. He’s another smart-ass White guy who wants to talk Black problems to death with bullshit analysis, hang-wringing sob stories and not a goddamn bit of action. I am SO tired of these opportunistic jackholes like Ryan who riff on subjects they know nothing about and care even less and think referencing a racist like Murray gives them some clout and we should pay attention to them.

NO. We shouldn’t.

Ryan is a man going places in American politics and much like Sen. Rand Paul who has made some encouraging noises in talking about race. At least for a prominent Republican even if Paul falls Whitesplaining the same awkward way Ryan does.

Nobody needs to tell a Black male what’s broken. I’ve heard all that in barbershop conversations for over five decades now.   All  I want to hear from Ryan is what’s the plan to fix it?   Beware when a right-winger who’s never spoken about poverty or race before starts talking about it.  Odds are he’s only spreading verbal fertilizer.

Ryan isn’t going to do anything about the problems of “inner city” men.  He just likes talking about it because it makes him seem sincere and really cares when we know he really doesn’t.  My advice to Ryan is to take the advice of another Republican, Frederick Douglass who had some thoughts himself about what should be done about those Black people problems.

Everybody has asked the question…”What shall we do with the Negro?” I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us!

A path to stupidity is what this doofus wants to put the country on.

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