ESPN’s “The Undefeated” Ignores Facts to Play Race Card

Recent comments made by Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield regarding former head coach Hue Jackson have made some headlines. Jackson had recently been fired as Mayfield’s head coach and almost immediately took a job with the division rival Cincinnati Bengals. Following the Brown’s win over the Bengals that came in the aftermath of Jackson’s firing and hiring, Mayfield was asked about the situation. He responded by saying:

“He left Cleveland and goes down to Cincinnati? I don’t know. It’s just somebody that was in our locker room asking for us to play for him, and then goes to a different team we play twice a year. Everybody can have their spin on it, but that’s how I feel.”

One writer who certainly had a problem with this was William C. Rhoden, who writes for the ESPN owned site theundefeated.com. Rhoden’s article criticizing Mayfield is entitled “Who does Baker Mayfield think he is?” The first part of his criticism focuses on the young quarterback not being in the league long enough to call out a veteran coach like Jackson. If Rhoden simply believes that Mayfield’s comments toward Jackson were in bad taste, that would be one thing. But since Mayfield is white and Jackson is black, a racial spin had to be injected to satisfy the criteria for The Undefeated. Thus, Rhoden proceeds with the following bizarre and unfounded quotes.

“Mayfield, the latest Heisman Trophy winner, was touted as a hero and matinee idol since his college days. This follows a pattern for just about every major white college quarterback who has talent.”

As if this isn’t the case for major black quarterbacks coming out of college who have talent. Somehow Rhoden was oblivious to the hero and idol status of recently great black college quarterbacks like Cam Newton, Vince Young, Deshaun Watson, Robert Griffin III and Jameis Winston. Some of these quarterbacks have been successful at the NFL level, some were not, and others are a little too young to make an official judgement on. But Rhoden is either completely ignorant of the hype surrounding these black quarterbacks coming out of college or he’s dismissing it out of convenience.

“Black quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson, on the other hand, play under the ever-present cloud of being told they should switch to wide receiver. Even today, if you listen closely to the language around black quarterbacks, they are praised for exceptional athletic ability but not their throwing accuracy…When is the last time an elite white college quarterback was advised to switch to wide receiver?”

It now appears that Rhoden is oblivious to the brief professional football career of Tim Tebow. Numerous journalists and analysts expresses the belief that Tebow had to change positions from quarterback if he wanted to stay in the NFL. It seems rather impossible that anyone with even a basic knowledge of football would be capable of not remembering Tebow’s collegiate and professional quarterbacking. It appears that Rhoden is most likely hoping his audience has erased the quarterback’s career from their memories.

As far as Lamar Jackson goes, perhaps the reason that the Ravens’ rookie starter has been praised for his athletic ability rather than his throwing accuracy has to do with what has transpired on the field. As of Rhoden’s writing, Jackson had run for 188 yards in just two games. However, he had also passed for one touchdown and three interceptions during the same time. Is an assessment of ability still racially coded if it proves to be accurate?

“Earlier this season, after the Houston Texans suffered a loss to Tennessee, Onalaska (Texas) Independent School District superintendent Lynn Redden posted this comment about Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson:

‘That may have been the most inept quarterback decision I have seen in the NFL. When you need precision decision-making, you can’t count on a black quarterback.’

Clearly not everyone feels this way, but enough people still do to raise concerns.”

Unsurprisingly, Rhoden doesn’t mention that this superintendent resigned over these comments. He also apologized directly to Watson in his resignation letter. So why doesn’t Rhoden mention this? Probably because it shows that the country is far less tolerant of racism that his main thesis implies that it is. Racist comments making someone an unemployable pariah don’t exactly mesh with an author and a website that attempts to drive home the idea that race and racism is still an overwhelming presence in our society.

Perhaps what’s even more unfortunate than this article from Rhoden is what it reveals about the agenda of his website. Sports journalists who live and breathe statistics, information and sports history are conveniently omitting actual facts to push certain ideas. It’s a sad state of affairs when these types of issues take precedence over reality. An informed public and critical thinking remain the best antidotes to this kind of selective truth.

ESPN’s Hill has a History of Race-Baiting

Controversial ESPN personality Jemele Hill recently got into some hot water regarding a tweet she sent out conveying her opinion of President Donald Trump. In her tweet, Hill said:

“Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.”

ESPN has responded by saying that her remarks do not represent the network. No action was taken against Hill for the statement.

Although many have felt that some sort of penalty should have been enforced against Hill, ESPN not taking action against her should not come as a surprise. Hill has had a significant recent history of making baseless and outlandish racial remarks while employed at the network. Several of her past columns reflect either an inability to look outside of race as a situational factor or just a blatant desire to race-bait. No action was taken against her for those things as well.

During the 2010 NFL season, Hill wrote an article entitled “Is race still an issue for NFL QBs?” The three black quarterbacks that Hill chose as examples of “unfair” treatment were Vince Young, Jason Campbell and Donovan McNabb. When examining these three QB’s with the timeframe in which the article is written, the baselessness of Hill’s claims becomes apparent. Young would have his final regular season start in the NFL just one season later. His career was also marked by immaturity and conflict with his head coach. Campbell was in the midst of a wildly inconsistent season for the Oakland Raiders in which the team ended up going 8-8. McNabb was almost completely washed-up by this point in his career and was attempting to lead a mediocre Redskins team while having only marginal success. Clearly none of these examples are cases of some sort of stellar QB being blatantly spurned by a racist coach.

Nearly a year after writing that article, Hill doubled down on her playing of the race card when comparing quarterbacks Michael Vick and Tim Tebow. In that article, Hill stated that:

“When Tim Tebow bowls over a couple of defensive players for a touchdown in a meaningless preseason game, it’s considered a display of his toughness and leadership. But when Vick launches himself at Troy Polamalu after throwing a costly interception, it’s considered risky and stupid.”

Looking into the professional status of the two quarterbacks at this time, it becomes apparent that this comparison is absurd. Vick was the established starting QB for the Eagles and was about to sign a huge contract. Tebow was still backing up Kyle Orton on the Broncos at the time and was playing under a rookie contract. But of course, Hill doesn’t want to see these types of differences. She only sees race as the source of differing narratives.

Perhaps the most egregious of Hill’s race-baiting articles came after O.J. Simpson was found guilty of orchestrating an armed robbery in 2008. When questioning how fair the case’s jury was, Hill writes in her article:

“There are also serious questions about whether the jury was unbiased. According to an Associated Press report, five of the 12 jurors — all of whom were white — wrote in their questionnaires they disagreed with the 1995 verdict…so much for an unbiased jury of one’s peers.”

So apparently according to Hill, in order to accurately and unbiasedly serve on the jury of a man accused of a crime, you must have thought he was not guilty of a previous crime he was tried for. Why is this some sort of standard for being fair and objective in an unrelated case? Also, why even mention the race of those on this jury who thought Simson was guilty back in 1995? Certainly there were blacks (and other non-whites) who thought the jury decided Simpson’s 1995 double murder case incorrectly. Would it be “biased” to allow them to serve on this jury as well? Or is it only whites who thought this way who weren’t able to decide a fair verdict for the 2008 trial?

Given that Hill has been able to voice all of these opinions in ESPN columns without consequence, it becomes apparent that any reprimand for her tweets about Donald Trump should not be expected. The network has no problem giving her a platform for her views no matter how baseless or race-obsessed they are. It’s best to keep this in mind with regard to any of her statements going forward. Getting upset with someone who has the track record of Jemele Hill just isn’t worth it.

ESPN’s “Robert Lee” Incident Only Latest Example of PC Absurdity

By now, many people both in and out of the sports world are familiar with the controversy surrounding broadcaster Robert Lee. In short, the recent rallies in Charlottesville, VA have caused ESPN to pull Lee from working Virginia’s game against William and Mary due to his name being the same as the most famous general of the Confederacy. As surprising as this move may be to some, it is simply another example of the rampant political correctness that accompanies both ESPN and most of the sports media. So let’s take a stroll through some (though certainly not all) recent events highlighting just how deep the plague of PC has infected the sports culture in America.

(2006) Don Haskins was not a Social Justice Warrior.

In the movie Glory Road (produced by Disney, parent company of ESPN), the day before Texas Western’s National Championship game against Kentucky, there is a scene where coach Haskins gathers his players on the bleachers for a pre-game talk. In that talk, Haskins vows to “put a stop” to the race based criticism of his team. He states that he will accomplish this by only playing the black players who were on his team in the championship game. Five would start and two would be subbed in off of the bench. The non-black players wouldn’t play in the game at all.

This speech that Haskins gave his team never actually happened in real life. Texas Western had been starting an all-black five for the entire season. So the starters for the championship game weren’t chosen on the basis of an attempt to triumph over bigotry or affect social tolerance. Haskins, like every other coach of any other team, was just trying to win games. When asked about the race of his starters, Haskins downplayed the social significance of what he had done by saying “I really didn’t think about starting five black guys. I just wanted to put my five best guys on the court.” It just so happened that all five of his best guys were black. In the true story, the players who were able to start for the 1966 championship team were able to achieve that status purely on their own merits. But in the movie, that accomplishment is tainted by the desire of a coach trying to advance a social agenda. By creating a motivation to conquer racism as the primary goal for the team’s coach, the film undercuts the talent necessary to become a starter and makes it more about factors outside the court than on it.

(2008) Does talking about Mexicans picking up dry-cleaning actually offend anyone?

On ESPN’s Monday Night Football, broadcaster Tony Kornheiser remarked after playing a touchdown call from a Spanish Affiliate station “I took high school Spanish and that either means ‘nobody is going to touch him’ or ‘could you pick up my dry cleaning in the morning.” Kornheiser wasn’t fired for saying this. But he did end up apologizing for it. But was what he said even offensive? Was he perpetuating the well-known stereotype that Mexicans like to pick up dry-cleaning? No doubt this was just damage control for a politically correct organization trying to cover all of their bases.

(2009) No, not all the world’s black people are African Americans.

During a college basketball matchup between Tennessee and Vanderbilt which was played around the time of Barrack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration, a conversation with Vanderbilt center Festus Ezeli was a topic that sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards brought up. According to Edwards, Ezeli’s thoughts on the inauguration were as follows:

“I talked to Vanderbilt center Festus Ezeli – who is from Nigeria – before the game about Obama’s inauguration. He told me that it isn’t as big of a deal to him as it is to most people, because all they have in Nigeria are African-American presidents.”

Now of course, the individuals who are elected to higher office in Nigeria are not African American (they’re African). It seems rather unlikely that Ezeli would have used the term “African American” to describe his own countrymen. He most likely used the word “black.” But that’s not quite good enough for ESPN. Even when stating someone is an African American is factually incorrect, it’s better than being politically incorrect.

(2016) The Espy Awards embrace gun control.

At the annual ESPN awards show (called the ESPY’s), the 2016 show involved a segment on an innocent teenager who had been shot and killed. The segment began with two time NBA MVP Steph Curry talking about all of the times guns take lives in America. Of course he didn’t mention the large percentage of these times which are suicides or the times where a shooting saves a life from a would-be attacker. The slain boy’s mother was even brought on stage to make the case for more gun control before the segment ended. No mention of the war on drugs or any societal problems that may have caused this teen’s death. Only guns are allowed to be blamed for violence on an ESPN award show.

Well, there it is. Just a taste of how blatantly adherent to political correctness ESPN (and likely others in the sports media) have become. It often takes an incident as absurd as banning a man from a broadcasting job due to his name to shine light on how bad things have gotten. But let’s also take notice of other examples that show the sports media for what it is. Holding them accountable for these types of incidents might cause them to take a long look at their current state.

John Thompson Delivers Best Quote From Latest ’30 for 30′

The latest installment of ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary series, One and Not Done, examines the career of current Kentucky Wildcats head basketball coach John Calipari. The title is derived from a certain type of player in college basketball who only plays one year at a school, then goes into the NBA draft. This phenomenon has occurred primarily after the NBA passed a rule in 2005 making it so that drafted players had to be at least one year out of high school. Calipari is largely credited in leading the way in getting elite players only wishing to play one year of college basketball before jumping to the professional level. This has made him a controversial figure in the college basketball world.

Most of the documentary reviews Calipari’s beginnings as a head coach and his rise through the ranks of basketball. The “one and done” phenomenon is only introduced and discussed throughout the two hour film’s last half hour. But in the midst of all of the discussions and opinions about the system Calipari has pioneered, one quote stood out as perhaps the truest and most insightful. That quote was from former Georgetown University head coach John Thompson when discussing the departure of many of these players from the ranks of college basketball. After claiming that he wouldn’t like Calipari if he were currently trying to coach against him, Thompson said:

“this whole religious experience that we have about people leaving school. How many people have you heard of, millionaires and billionaires, that dropped out of school and still were successful in life?”

First of all, Thompson’s equating of college with religion is strikingly accurate. In both the American political and social circle, college is exalted to a near religious status. More money for college (provided by government of course) is always good. More kids going to college is always a sign of societal improvement. More college graduates are nothing but a positive for social advancement. Few American institutions are more sacrosanct than that of higher education.

The second part of his quote displays an overwhelming truth as well. That is the fact that many people aside from college basketball players do not need college to become successful. Remarkably wealthy entrepreneurs like Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Michael Dell, Ralph Lauren and Mark Zuckerberg all dropped out of college before receiving a degree. But of course, there isn’t the lamenting over the abrupt departure from college when it comes to these individuals. This is because performing the job that gets them this wealth is not a spectator sport at the amateur level like basketball is. No one was gathering around a television to watch Zuckerberg write algorithms in college (or out of college for that matter). But since college basketball is a wildly popular televised event, many people can’t seem to cease all of the lamenting as to why elite basketball players choose to leave school for a big paycheck rather than stay at a level that doesn’t pay them at all.

Not only is Thompson’s quote accurate, but it’s refreshing to hear someone from his generation embrace the market-driven aspect of these players’ decisions. Thompson is 75 years old and had his heyday as Georgetown’s head coach in the 1980’s. Back then, players were much more likely to stay longer at college than they are today. Patrick Ewing, the best player Thompson ever coached, stayed all four years at Georgetown. It would be unthinkable for a player of his talent to stay at a school that long this day in age. Other coaches from Thompson’s era, like Jim Calhoun and Bob Knight, have been quite critical of “one and done” players. It seems these coaches aren’t content with simply preventing players from getting paid for their skills for just one year.

Of course, for those of us who believe in the freedom of contract and self-ownership, the problem with the “one and done” rule is that it requires those who have reached the age of adulthood to spend at least a year not being able to profit off of the talents that they have. Therefore, there should be no age requirement after a player gets out of high school who has the talent to play a professional sport. All college athletes are barred from receiving any financial compensation for the duration of their college careers. So by preventing athletes from entering the draft for any period of time, the freedom of contract is violated.

So Thompson certainly deserves credit for recognizing that times have changed and those elite basketball players who do leave school early are just responding to the economic incentives that can lure people out of college to pursue any other career. Perhaps if the NCAA and NBA came to accept this fact, athletes considered to be adults by law could be allowed to enter the draft and get compensated for their talents. Either that, or allow college athletes to get paid while competing at the school. But the prevention of these things will only cause those athletes to see greener pastures at the professional level and make the decision to get paid what they are worth.