So… speaking of professional male athletes: there are approximately 462 NBA players, 1760 NFL Players, 800 MLB players and 720 Hockey dudes. I don't know from golf, soccer and boxing but let's just round up and say that in these here United States of America (and a few parts of Canada), there are approximately 5000 current professional athletes and who knows how many retired. To hear folks tell it, every last one of them is a megalomaniacal, wife-beating, gun-toting, sex fiend who can't save a penny, speak coherent sentences or look beyond their personal bling.
Before I get into my personal experiences, I have to point out that I've been amazed and unamused at the sweeping generalizations attached to that group. Maybe because as a single black female, I've seen that kind of random media bias and subsequent shade-throwing up close and personal these days? The caricature of the spoiled, rude, 12-baby-mama-with-all-the-drama rich boys is perpetuated because that's generally the story the media focuses on. (Don't get me started on Basketball Wives) It's sexier to talk about Plaxico Burress shooting himself, Ricky Williams smoking pot and Dwayne Wade's divorce than to talk about the 400+ foundations, charities and kids' camps currently attributed to professional athletes.
There is a movie coming out May 14th that I'm fairly excited about. It's "Just Wright" starring Queen Latifah and Common (rise of the rapping actors, FTW!). Official synopsis from Fox Searchlight: Leslie Wright (Queen Latifah) is a straight-shooting physical therapist who gets the gig of a lifetime working with NBA All-Star Scott McKnight (Common). All is going well until Leslie finds herself falling for Scott, forcing her to choose between the gig and the tug-of-war inside her heart. Oblivious to her romantic overtures, McKnight is instead drawn to the affections of Leslie's childhood friend Morgan (Paula Patton), who has her sights set on being an NBA trophy wife. Is Leslie destined to play the role of "best friend" forever or will Scott finally see that what he always wanted is right in front of him?
One of my least favorite reviewers (who shall remain nameless because I refuse to send traffic to his site) said he thought the movie was way too bland. He felt that the main characters have been stripped of personality and he couldn't buy Common's character because he "is the nicest, safest, NBA player in history. I mean c'mon a nice and considerate NBA player?? Here's an idea…what if the film had made him an arrogant, loud mouth, annoying person (with maybe a baby momma somewhere) to hide the fact that he's an insecure, lonely person afraid his glory years as a player have passed him by? You know a REAL person."
For real tho? Have you met any players… in like… REAL life? Or are you stereotyping based on what you've read? Glory days as a player? Most athletes have 3 – 5 years of a career (if they're lucky) and then they're done. 72% of those playing never reach star (let alone superstar) status. If you knew you could only do your job for three years and then you have to do something completely different… that might change your outlook.
I've had the interesting life experience of knowing, dating, and hanging around professional athletes for years. Being bougie in nature, I was never one to gawk or jock. I never have been nor ever will be any flavor of groupie. To me, they were just guys with high-profile jobs and more change jingling than others. Of course I've seen the good, the bad and ugly. But I've seen a lot more good than bad and ugly. There's something that happens when you start depositing checks with nine figures and have a microphone in your face morning, noon and night. It doesn't happen to the athlete, it happens to the people around them and then the athlete is forced to react. The dynamic gets strange when people begin to think you're important because of how you move/protect/deflect a ball. Not everybody reacts well to having long-lost cousins call you up for bail/house payment/random loan at 3:00 in the morning, having your mother steal your credit cards, having your housekeeper put your personal items on eBay behind your back, having random women whip out their breasts and say "sign these" – all of these are stories that I have witnessed personally. Now if you don't have a strong foundation and support system, all of that is going to do something to your head. As one athlete said, "We're grown-assed men playing little boy games. And that we get adored."
My point is - selfish jerks with problematic lives are everywhere. Some have money and high-profile jobs, others do not. If regular Joe has a bad day, two people hear about it. If Superbowl Joe has a bad day, it's YouTubed and leading on ESPN Sportscenter. I'm in no way excusing the bad behavior that we've seen exhibited by some athletes (and the women that chase them). I'm just going to say it's not easy. These guys work incredibly hard. Even the most naturally gifted athlete has to maintain his athleticism, learn the nuance of his position and deal with all the extra stuff that comes along with being a multi-millionaire before 40. I know, I know – boo-hoo, he makes $52 million and has to work for it. I'm just saying… your paycheck probably isn't published on the Internet. Your performance at work isn't witnessed by millions and presumably, no one spits on you and threatens to burn your house down if you make a mistake.
I've had the pleasure of being around athletes that were grounded, those that planned for the future, kept the drama at a minimum and had an idea of who they were when the lights weren't shining and the game is gone. So-called "good men" trying to do the right thing for themselves and their families. I've also been around those other cats and just stayed out of their way. The same way not all men cheat, not all professional athletes walk around with an inflated sense of self.
I've also had the interesting phenomenon of being judged because I dated professional athletes. As if there is only "a certain type of girl" with a "certain kind of look" and an agenda that spends time with those guys. I'm going to call bullshiggity on that whole thought process. I've literally met a guy, he finds out the name of a guy I used to date and all of a sudden he's looking at me in a different kind of way. Le Huge Sigh.
Long post short? Stop hatin' on athletes unless you know some that have done you wrong personally. And even then, quit painting them all with the same brush.
Oh, and go see the darn movie. It may be watered down but that makes me happy. When we can have romantic comedies starring African-Americans that are just as so-so as those starring Caucasians – we're come a long way. And by so-so let's talk about anything starring that chick from Grey's Anatomy (27 dresses), half of Julia Roberts' (Duplicity) and Meg Ryan's (French Kiss) movies, that last movie with Sarah Jessica Parker (Did you hear about the Morgans) and something awful I saw with Amy Adams (Leap Year). I think we deserve the chance to be equally "just okay". I can't wait to check it out. Most of the folks I know that have seen advanced screenings enjoyed it. I personally love a BougieTale of romance up on the big screen.
So BougieLand, thoughts on the professional athlete? Have I altered your view of them and the women that date them at all? Who's planning on seeing "Just Wright"? The floor is yours.
Let me preface this post by saying, I didn't know Chris Henry or his fiancée Tonga personally. And I don't make generalizations that start with "all black athletes" I've known too many to disrespect them like that. I don't know (nor care to know) the details that led to his tragic death nor do I need to recount the struggles Mr. Henry went through in his life.
So what I will do is mourn the loss of a 26-year old man who was not allowed to reach his full potential. A young black man, who like so many others, is gone far too early. Cincinnati Bengals owner said, "He had worked through the troubles in his life and had finally seemingly reached the point where everything was going to blossom. And he was going to have the future we all wanted for him. It's painful to us. We feel it in our hearts, and we will miss him."
From the National Sports Review:
"I kind of felt like I dug myself out of the hole and started doing the right things," Henry said in an interview with The Associated Press as training camp opened. "People say, 'How you feeling now Chris? You doing all right?' I just tell them I'm blessed. That's why I got it."
He did get it. He did understand the consequences of his poor decisions. He dug himself out of a deep hole, a hole deeper than anyone could imagine. And then, just like that, he's gone. Just like that, a comeback was ended. Just like that, another athlete died far too young.
When the Bengals brought him back, he was determined to live up to his potential. He spent more time working out. He spent more time with his fiancee and with his kids. He was a changed man. The Bengals noticed.
"He's a great kid with a great heart," (Bengals QB Carson)Palmer said as training camp started. "He's changed his life around. He ran into some trouble, made some bad decisions, and realized that. He's sorry for them, apologized for them, and has done everything he can to make himself a better person. I'm just proud of him."
Chris is survived by three children, a mother and father, a fiancée and countless friends and fans who will miss him. I personally hate when it appears that someone has a chance at redemption and never gets the opportunity. One of the haunting things about those that die young is the hovering specter of "What if…" that lingers. I especially hate to see young Black men leave us too soon. What's left to say? Death sucks. RIP Chris.
Well we are halfway through the NFL season and I have held off talking football for this long because I understand that not everyone loves sports talk like I do. However, I think it's time for a few quick observations. Here we go:
- WTF Tom Cable? First all, your team (Oakland Raiders) is completely inconsistent. And it's stacked with young talent. I understand Al's elevator dosen't go all the way to the top but c'mon son. Is this the team that stunned the Eagles or stunk it up against the Jets? Hint: Your QB needs a mentor… badly. Some Qbs have pocket presence and inherent field vision, he does not and needs to be taught. As for you Mr. Cable, what up with the slapping of females? Please respond (swiftly):
- VY Sighting! Oh it did my Texas heart good to see Vince Young stride out on that field yesterday and lay a smackdown on somebody. He threw, he ran, he juked, he LED. And not once did he say, "How ya like me now?" (Which I would have done, repeatedly) How he's matured emotionally is still yet to be determined but his football skill should never have been in doubt. As the sportscasters like to say – when you have a thoroughbred… let him run free. Can anyone say that Tennessee looked better at any time this season? Think on it... I'll wait.
- Speaking of which – hello Philly? What is this bullshiggity role you have crafted for Mike Vick? What is the point of bringing him in on gadget plays or to throw one pass on third down? You are completely underutilizing him. Donovan is your number one guy, fine. Then let Vick stand over there and hold the clipboard, don't get us all excited that you are going to use his powers for good. This dude is only 29 ya'll, he has plenty of great NFL years ahead. 6'0", 215… Is that Oakland calling?
- Dear Dallas Cowboys – please stop celebrating. You beat down SEATTLE yesterday. Yes you beat Atlanta but you needed OT to beat Kansas City, you squeaked by Tampa Bay, you let the Giants punk you in your own house and you still have not proven your ability to win a game in December and/or win a playoff game. I'm hitting ya'll with the laser beam side-eye until I see evidence of winter wonderland wins. Yeah Romo, I'm looking at you. Roy Williams, you getting a piece of the side-eye too.
It could be worse, I could be a Rams, Lions or Redskins fan. Any football observations to share?
For those not in the know, OneChele loves the NFL. Love, love, loves it! I watch religiously. I plan my church attendance around the pre-game shows and my Sunday evenings around the post-game wrap-ups. I have NFL Sunday Ticket and SuperFan on DirecTV. I play in a fantasy football league (reigning champ three years in a row). During football season, I am a cheap date – call me up and invite me over to watch the game, throw in chicken wings and iced tea and I'm happy.
As a Dallas Cowboys fan it has not always been easy (and is in fact often painful) to watch yet every week, I sit (usually with grilled food items nearby) and ready myself for the battles of the day. Win or lose, there are generally great feats of athleticism to appreciate. For the ladies who are not fans of the game, here are five things you need to know about the game:
- Really fine men in really tight uniforms – I think that statement speaks for itself
- It's quite entertaining – if you are not a pure fan of the sport, you can still tune in just to enjoy an amazing catch, tackle or throw
- It's not just a game – Yes it is grown men playing a boy's game but people take it very seriously
- Most men dig chicks who can speak sports – At the very least, know your man's favorite team and when they play. "How'd the Bears play today?" can net you "cool chick" points.
- Don't call diehard football fans mid-game – If you have friends who are rabid fans, don't call them on game day unless someone is bleeding and requiring emergency care
The season kicks off with much fanfare and hoopla tonight with the Tennessee Titans and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Time to suit up… enjoy!
Just when you thought it was safe… (sigh) Favre JUST cannot stay retired. Or get retired or really retire… you know what I mean. Back in my high-rolling days, I met Mr. Favre. I am not a fan. At any rate, I think at some point you should hang up the cleats. In my humble opinion, for Favre - that was four years ago. Yet here he is again, suiting up for yet another run. From ESPN:
A source close to Brett Favre said the quarterback, pending a physical, will sign a contract with the Minnesota Vikings for between $10 million to $12 million, according to ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen.
Favre, 39, arrived in Minnesota on Tuesday to meet with the Vikings, getting off a team plane at a small St. Paul airport and getting into an SUV after shaking hands with the ground crew.
Coach Brad Childress confirmed the planned meeting in an e-mail to The Associated Press. Asked if the plan was to sign Favre, Childress replied: "In a perfect world."
Favre is expected to take a physical later Tuesday.
Favre's mother, Bonita, told the Biloxi Sun Herald that her son would be working out with the Vikings on Wednesday. ESPN analyst Chris Carter reported Tuesday that Childress already has told the Vikings that Favre will be starting in Friday night's preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
"I have mixed emotions, but I have always loved to watch him play," she told the Sun Herald. "This time, however, I thought he would stay retired and stay home. I guess he could not do it.
"They [Minnesota] seem to have a good team in place, and he liked that. I guess I need to get a Vikings jersey now."
Note to Favre: Your own mama is shaking her head.
The happiest person in the league about Brett returning? Mike Vick. Spotlight on someone else for at least a day or two. Second happiest, Bernard Berrain (Minnesota's WR), he's staring at a Pro Bowl year if Favre can stay on target and not gift the other teams' secondary. Next happiest is the NFL. Like him or not, he's ratings gold. I picture Goddell cabbage-patching down the hall as I type.
The buzz in Twitterville prompted me to say that after the apocalypse only three things will be left standing: Cockroaches, Cher and Brett Favre. I would say welcome back, but I don't mean it…
Any thoughts about the re-re-re-resurrection of Favre or do you simply not care anymore?
At any rate, I will congratulate a man for getting a job in this economy. Way to get your hustle on, Mike!
(Sigh) As if Philly fans needed more excuses to bring out the crazy.
Before you even start with me, this is not a post about whether what Michael Vick did, was convicted of, and served time for was good, bad, tragic, nonsensical, none of that. The man did the crime, paid the time and now he's got to live the rest of his life.
Today, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made the ruling that will allow Vick the chance to make a living doing (what I assume) he does best, play professional football in the National Football League. In his press conference this afternoon, Mr. Goodell further stated that he has asked Tony Dungy to act as his mentor. From ESPN:
NEW YORK -- Michael Vick is back in the NFL. Now all he needs is a team to play for.
Vick, free after serving 18 months in prison for running a dogfighting ring, was reinstated with conditions by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday. He could participate in regular-season games as early as October.
Vick can immediately take part in preseason practices, workouts and meetings and can play in the final two preseason games -- if he can find a team that will sign him. A number of teams have already said they would not.
Once the season begins, Vick may participate in all team activities except games, and Goodell said he would consider Vick for full reinstatement by Week 6 (Oct. 18-19) at the latest.
According to ESPN's Sal Paolantonio, a source close to Vick expressed "shock" over the severity of Vick's punishment and said Vick will reapply for full reinstatement as early as Week 1.
Goodell suspended Vick indefinitely in August 2007 after the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback admitted bankrolling a dogfighting operation on his property in Virginia. At the time, Goodell said Vick must show remorse before he would consider reinstating him.
"I accept that you are sincere when you say that you want to, and will, turn your life around, and that you intend to be a positive role model for others," Goodell said in his letter to Vick. "I am prepared to offer you that opportunity. Whether you succeed is entirely in your hands."
"Needless to say, your margin for error is extremely limited," the letter said. "I urge you to take full advantage of the resources available to support you and to dedicate yourself to rebuilding your life and your career. If you do this, the NFL will support you."
Vick, once the highest-paid player in the league, said he was grateful for a second chance.
"I would like to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to commissioner Goodell for allowing me to be readmitted to the National Football League," Vick said in a statement released by his agent, Joel Segal. "I fully understand that playing football in the NFL is a privilege, not a right, and I am truly thankful for the opportunity I have been given.
"As you can imagine, the last two years have given me time to revaluate my life, mature as an individual and fully understand the terrible mistakes I have made in the past and what type of life I must lead moving forward."
The announcement came after a busy first week of freedom for Vick, who met with union leaders and Goodell on consecutive days last week. His 23-month federal sentence ended when an electronic monitor was removed from his ankle early on July 20 at his home in Hampton, Va.
I think having Tony Dungy as mentor is a classy move all the way around. There are few people in and around the game of football that are more respected than Dungy. My hope for Michael is that he gets the chance to play this year and that he plays well. Additionally, I would hope that all the stark-raving PETA-extremists (wanted Vick to have a psych eval prior to reinstatement) would take a step back and give the man a chance to earn a living. He paid his debt and I think he should be treated accordingly.
This does not mean that I won't be holding my breath and chanting, "Don't screw this up, don't screw this up, don't screw this up..." The list of NFL players that have been given second (third, fourth) chances and tossed them away is lengthy and regrettable (that's worthy of a post of it's own someday). For now, I wish nothing but good things for Mike.
But I'm an NFL fanatic and purist. In my heart, I want the best players in the world on the field performing brilliantly everyday… but I recognize that's just me. Any thoughts on the Vick announcement? Any hopes as to which team he ends up playing on?