DEXTER, DEXTER IS THAT YOU?: HOW THE TRAGIC STORY OF DEXTER MANLEY CONTINUES TO WORSEN

Considering the current ruins that the franchise finds itself in, it is slightly embarrassing to say that I am a life-long fan of the Dallas Cowboys. However, there was a
time when the Dallas Cowboys were the gold-standard of not only the National Football League but of all professional athletics. I fondly recall the epic battles that the Cowboys undertook against storied franchises like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, and the hated above all Washington Redskins.

Although I wish my expression for the Washington Redskins could be something other than pure unregenerate hatred that covered not only the NFL franchise, but also players such as John Riggins, Darrell Green, Art Monk, Joe Theismann, and Dexter Manley. Of all of the aforementioned individuals, Dexter Manley is the only figure that warranted any sympathy; I must add that the alluded to sympathy extended to Manley flowed from extenuating life circumstances that were no fault of his.

Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Manley matriculated from Jack Yates High School in Houston’s 3rd Ward. This story is rife with irony when one realizes that Texas Southern University and the University of Houston are literally a stone’s throw away from Jack Yates. None of that seemed to matter as Dexter Manley, a player who was so dominant form his Defensive End position that he earned the moniker of ‘Secretary of Defense’, managed to matriculate from Jack Yates and remain eligible for four years at Oklahoma State University with only a 2nd grade reading comprehension level.

In his biography Educating Dexter, Manley describes a hellish existence riddled with illiteracy, violence, and drug addiction; all while earning nearly one-million dollars a year as a professional football player.

Truthfully, Manley is little more than a footnote in the storied rivalry between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins, so I thought it truly ironic that on the final week of the NFL regular season that Manley would reappear in the most unprecedented of ways. Believe it or not, Dexter Manley has managed to secure employment as a television analyst for some off-brand television station.

I must relate to being pleased at seeing Manley in such a position, if immediately gave me that warm fuzzy feeling of yet another African-American male overcoming significant personal obstacle to seize later professional success. Unfortunately, that ‘warm and fuzzy’ feeling quickly dissipated when I listened to Manley’s commentary regarding Black quarterbacks.

Manley related to a white co-host the following quip, “…most of the black quarterbacks, they like running, because they’re probably used to running from the law.” Manley’s attempt at humor made me not only shake my head, but also made me wonder aloud at how could someone teach Dexter how to read, yet fail to teach him how to think. It then dawned upon me that I know many people who have somehow learned how to read, yet could not think their way out of a shotgun house.

Although the selection of figures such as Don Lemon, Charles Barkley, and Dexter Manley by national television stations to represent “the Black perspective” on a superficial level don lemoncould be celebrated because they are technically ‘black’, however, such individuals are suffering under the yoke of so many intellectual inadequacies that it is on second-thought insulting for them to be trotted out as even being capable of not only possessing the courage “to speak truth to white power”, but also having escaped the multiple illiteracies (historical, cultural, political) that so many ‘black experts’ are ensnared by. There is absolutely no doubt that news agencies need many more Black News Anchors like TV-One’s Roland Martin or independent Black news periodicals such as African-American News & Issues (Houston, Texas) or The Final Call (Nation of Islam). It is our only hope of having an authentic Black perspective represented.

Unfortunately for Dexter Manley, his failed attempt at humor and inability to think are no longer the secret that his literacy was. Making matters worse, many others prove that they are suffering under the exact same yoke.

James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016.

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