Tag Archives: NFL


I remember it like it was yesterday when Dr. Julianne Malveaux, the former President of Bennett College dropped this nugget of wisdom regarding institutional racism and the forgiveness it affords white males. In her famed style, the remarkable economist remarked that ‘a skinhead ain’t nothing but a white boy who needs to grow some hair. And when he does, he can walk into any company and be assured of securing some semblance of employment, regardless of his qualifications for the position.’

The alluded to wisdom that Malveaux shared with a room full of African-American collegians was daunting, yet true. Every American should realize that white privilege is enjoyed by whites regardless of their effort to secure it or desire to receive it. Hence, it is puzzling, if not bewildering to hear former NFL Quarterback Michael Vick, a black man who once was the personification of a thug in the eyes of white America, offers the following advice to Colin Kaepernick on FS1’s show “Speak for Yourself.”

“First thing we’ve got to get Colin to do is cut his hair. Listen, I’m not up here to try to be politically correct…I don’t think he should represent himself in that way in terms of just the hairstyle. Just go clean-cut. You know, why not? You’re already dealing with a lot of controversy surrounding this issue. The most important thing that he needs to do is just try to be presentable.”

Vick’s uninformed diatribe continues below,

“(I) didn’t listen until the end, until I was going through the turmoil and the hardships…Listen, I love the guy to death. But I want him to also succeed on and off the field…It’s not about selling out.”

When one considers Vick’s words, it is evident that life’s experiences have taught him the primary lesson that educator Jane Elliott reveals as the only path for black people to get ahead in America, “Conform!!!! Act white!!!! That’s how you get ahead in America!!!!”

As an educator privileged to watch thousands of young black males transform during their undergraduate years, I have always found it humorous when a figure that white America and a particular segment of ‘well to do’ black America would consider a ‘thug’ transforms into “the company man.” The company man is ironically a desperate attempt by the disenfranchised to replicate the persona and worldview of those that have historically taken glee in vilifying him. The alluded to figure is impeccably groomed, never found in anything less than designer clothing, and arrives at informal social gatherings dressed business casual. Shockingly, the alluded to transformation often extends far beyond physical appearance as it affects their word choice and diction; I swear that a few of my students picked up a strange accent that vacillates between British and French to complete the transformation. This persona that Harlem Renaissance Poet Paul Laurence Dunbar termed “the Mask” is always an uncomfortable fit for those that consider it an indispensable accessory.

We Wear the Mask

We wear the mask that grins and lies,

It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—

This debt we pay to human guile;

With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,

And mouth with myriad subtleties.


Why should the world be over-wise,

In counting all our tears and sighs?

Nay, let them only see us, while

We wear the mask.


We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries

To thee from tortured souls arise.

We sing, but oh the clay is vile

Beneath our feet, and long the mile;

But let the world dream otherwise,

We wear the mask!

(Paul Laurence Dunbar)

There is no doubt that those who wear Dunbar’s “mask” do so with the realization that it is the most certain means of having their material needs satisfied. However, if given enough time, these same individuals will realize that they have made a lopsided deal with the Devil that ultimately leaves them as one of the “tortured souls” that Dunbar writes about in his poem.

In many ways, Michael Vick’s advice to Kaepernick is revealing as it displays what he has learned from his very public troubles. Apparently, Vick believes that one must curry favor with white power-brokers ‘by any means necessary.’

I guess that silly is as silly does, and Michael Vick’s silly advice to Kaepernick has actually achieved one thing for certain; that being, it has ensured that he is firmly entrenched as the starting Quarterback on an All-Star team of unwise and stupid athletes who should have been benched long ago when it comes to addressing racial matters, a duty they are incapable of doing well.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

What People Will Do For Money: The Sad Saga of Ray Lewis’ Commentary on Colin Kaepernick

If you possess any level of wisdom, I am certain that you agree that paying close attention to the actions and statements of others for an extended period of time provides you with significant insight regarding their character. This very simple process also holds the potential to highlight an individual’s understanding, or the lack thereof, of history. Ultimately, this process concludes with the observer deciding if a person is a man of substance or a fraudulent charlatan willing to change their viewpoints at opportune moments for financial reward or material accruements. Trust me when I say that the latter persona is the most prevalent in Capitalist America.

Baltimore Ravens linebacker and self-styled political commentator Ray Lewis has once again proven himself to be a fraudulent charlatan willing to alter his viewpoints according to the direction that political winds are blowing the strongest. It does not take a genius to realize that Lewis is constantly positioning himself for a future economic windfall.

Consider for a moment that Ray Lewis has miraculously re-created himself as a person of some substance, a far-cry from the thug persona he relished during his time as the ultimate enforcer for the Miami Hurricanes and Baltimore Ravens; let us not forget that Lewis’ hooliganism was a fixture in his social interactions as well. If one seeks verification for Lewis’ penchant for melding together his on-field activities with his off-field conduct, they need to look no further than his guilty plea for obstruction of justice during the investigation of the murder of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar. The plea bargain that Lewis agreed to was given in exchange for his testimony against his compatriots Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting, for their role in the murder of Baker and Lollar after a Super Bowl XXXIV party in Atlanta, Georgia on January 31, 2000. Unbelievably, Ray Lewis has been able to not only escape a career-ending murder charge, but also reshaped his persona as public figure that has been provided access to the likes of Donald J. Trump and a who’s who of Black America. If nothing else, Ray Lewis’ publicist deserves a significant pay raise and accolades for re-shaping his public image.

A crucial portion of Lewis’ persona has been his ascension as a motivational speaker who provides adherents with words of wisdom and inspiration. Consider the following advice from Lewis, “We get one opportunity in life, one chance at life to do whatever you’re going to do, and lay your foundation and make whatever mark you’re going to make. Whatever legacy you’re going to leave; leave your legacy!” One would be hard-pressed to not consider Lewis’ sentiment as Poignant! Relevant! Inspirational! Unfortunately, if one has paid close attention to Lewis, particularly his recent comments regarding Colin Kaepernick it becomes clear that at best he is woefully inconsistent in regards to honoring his words and thoughts.

Consider for a moment how Lewis’ vitriolic diatribe aimed at Kaepernick, a figure whose public protest regarding the continuation of racial bias in “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” betrays the above quote about leaving a lasting legacy. Within a context that has seen NFL owners refuse to employ the more than capable quarterback, Lewis attacks Kaepernick’s political activism by remarking “Kaepernick has to make up his mind. Do you want to play football or do you want to be an activist.” Make no mistake about it, this was a conscious move by Lewis that displays his extreme desire to extend his access to the NFL trough owned by the same white powerbrokers who have colluded to keep Kaepernick out of the NFL. Additionally, Lewis’ unfortunate commentary conveys either his ignorance regarding the extended tradition of politicized athletes such as Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, and Bill Russell or his determination to never ‘bite the white hands’ that feed him.

Although I would love to think that Lewis’ commentary was solely directed at Kaepernick, however, I am unable to do so as its meaning covers the entire pantheon of politicized black athletes. Lewis’ message reduces to an antiquated, yet familiar message that one would expect to hear from racist whites during the Jim Crow era, not a black man in the new millennium. In many ways, Lewis’ tired routine casts him as the “House Negro” that Malcolm X stated loved and identified with his master so much that when the master became ill, the House Negro responded, “What’s wrong boss? We sick.” What a terrible person, Ray Lewis has become, just absolutely terrible.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

The Growth of the Black Quarterback

As the NFL off-season continues into organized team activities, anticipation is rapidly building for the upcoming season. There are many intriguing  headlines concerning many players and teams, however, the most attention will be placed upon Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston.

Winston was selected by the  Buccaneers with the first overall pick in the 2015  NFL Draft.  The Bessemer, Alabama native left Florida State as one of the most decorated college quarterbacks in recent memory. Winston,a former Heisman trophy winner, led the Seminoles to a victory in the 2014 National winstonChampionship Game,a pair of  ACC conference championships, a berth in the 2015 Rose Bowl, and posted a  26-1 record over two seasons  as the signal caller for Florida State. He can now add one more honor to his aforementioned laundry list of accolades: he is the 4th African American quarterback to be selected with the number one overall pick, and one of thirty-six black signal callers drafted since 2001. It is certainly amazing to see how far the NFL and college football  has come in regards to opportunities afforded to  African American quarterbacks.

Though black quarterbacks are becoming more commonplace in today’s NFL, they were far from that in the 1970’s when University of Washington star field general Warren Moon entered the NFL Draft. During that era, it was widely thought that though African American quarterbacks were great athletes; they  did not possess the mental aptitude or cerebral thought processes necessary to effectively play the most important position on the field.

Predictably, Moon was not selected in the 1978 Draft. Having no other options, Moon took his talents to the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League. Only after leading  the Eskimos to five consecutive Grey Cup Championships,two Grey Cup MVP’s, and a plethora of other honors was Moon able to get his opportunity to play in the NFL in 1984. Moon exceeded all expectations and  went on to have an extremely successful 16 year NFL career playing for four different teams and making nine Pro Bowls, being selected as a three time All-Pro, and being inducted into the National Football League Hall of Fame in 2006.

By the 1990’s there had some progress made in giving more African American players the opportunity to play quarterback at major Division I  football programs, but previous stigmas have not died. Many black players who were the primary signal callers during their high school years are routinely forced to change positions to play major college football due to a perceived lack of intellect.

Steve McNair was like many other talented black prep school quarterbacks. He possessed a strong arm and mobility, but many major Division I programs like  Miami, Nebraska,Florida State, and Ohio State wanted McNair to play running back or defensive back. McNair insisted on playing quarterback and eventually enrolled in Division II Alcorn State, a HBCU (Historically Black College and University). By enrolling in an HBCU, McNair joined a long list of black signal-callers such as Joe Gilliam and Doug Williams before him .

McNair proceeded to prove his critics wrong as he threw for a record 14,496 collegiate passing yards, accounted for 16,296 career total yards, and finished 3rd in the 1996 Heisman Trophy voting, the highest finish for a player from an HBCU ever. McNair, drafted 3rd overall by the Houston Oilers, had a productive NFL career that included him winning a MVP Award, leading the Titans to a Super Bowl appearance, being named a three time All-Pro as well as a three time Pro Bowl selection during his dozen year NFL career with the Titans and the Baltimore Ravens.

Fast forward to present day, and black quarterbacks are provided opportunities that their predecessors such as the University of Tennessee’s Condredge  Holloway could have only dreamed of. While at one time it was rare to see black quarterbacks at major Division I programs, today 3 of the past 5 Heisman Trophy winners — Jameis Winston, Cam Newton, and Robert Griffin III — are African American signal callers.

At the NFL level, the fraternity of Black quarterbacks is still relatively small. However, there has been some progress. In 1983, Vincent Evans was the lone African American playing the quarterback position in the NFL, three decades later, there is good reason to expect 8 black starting quarterbacks, an NFL record.

Quite frankly, if it were not for trailblazers such as Warren Moon, Steve McNair, Randall Cunningham, and Doug Williams, today’s opportunities afforded Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, Jameis Winston, Teddy Bridgewater, Geno Smith, E.J. Manuel, Robert Griffin III would not exist.

From Patriot to Prisoner: The Fall of Aaron Hernandez and What We Can Learn From It

Last week, inmate W106228 began serving a life sentence at MCI-Cedar Junction Prison in Massachusetts. Inmate W106228, also known as Hernandez 2former National Football League star Aaron Hernandez who was convicted of first degree murder and various firearms charges in connection with Odin Lloyd’s brutal murder.  Hernandez, and two accomplices, shot Lloyd execution style and left his bullet riddled body in a Boston area industrial park in June of 2013.

Immediately after the verdict was announced, Hernandez was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.  Many are wondering how and why someone who had “THE LIFE”; meaning a contract in excess of 40 million dollars, a role as a starter on the New England Patriots, a 1.7 million dollar mansion, and a beautiful baby girl.

What led to Hernandez’s swift fall from grace? The answer is simple, although Hernandez’s prodigious athletic ability provided him an escape from trouble, however, he inexplicably refused to disassociate himself from unsavory characters.

Prior to his recent arrest for the murder of Odin Lloyd, Aaron Hernandez was no stranger to violence. In April of 2007, while a freshman at the University of Florida, Hernandez assaulted an employee at a Gainesville Hernandezrestaurant, rupturing a man’s eardrum. Less than six months later, Hernandez was rumored to have shot two men at a stop light near campus after an altercation at a nightclub. In July of 2012, Hernandez is suspected of killing two men after a confrontation at a bar in Boston over a spilled drink.  In February of 2013, Hernandez allegedly shot former friend Alexander Bradley, in the face after departing a Miami strip club after an argument over a bar tab.  The most obvious strain in the majority of these crimes was that Hernandez was accompanied/assisted in his heinous crimes by convicted felons.

By all accounts, Hernandez was a mild mannered, articulate, honor roll student growing up in suburban Bristol, Connecticut. However, these admirable Hernandez 3qualities receded when Hernandez became a teenager. It was at that moment that Hernandez began abusing drugs and associating himself with various gang members and derelicts from the city’s rougher neighborhoods.  Hernandez’s current plight validates the saying, “birds of a feather, flock together.”

In the end, there is much to be learned from Aaron Hernandez’s sad story. Foremost of these lessons is the reality that those who have a bright future must Hernandez 4closely monitor the company they keep. Make no mistake about it, if you associate with friends involved in illicit activities, you will invariably find yourself ensnared in whatever situation that they find themselves in. The sad saga of Aaron Hernandez proves that we are often, needlessly I must add, our own worst enemy.

Alexander Goodwin


©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2015.

‘You Win With People’: The Sad Saga of Lawrence Phillips

For those who truly know football the list of truly great collegiate running backs is relatively short. Names such as Archie Griffin, O.J. Simpson, Eric Dickerson, Bo Jackson, Marcus Dupree, Barry Sanders, Marcus Allen, Marshall Faulk, Herschel Walker, Lawrence Phillips, and Adrian Peterson come to mind. As with most debates one usually casts their vote in support of the greatest running back of their era. Hence my vote is split between Barry Sanders and the University of Nebraska’s Lawrence Phillips.

Lawrence Phillips the collegiate running back is indescribable. In contemporary terms think about a bigger stronger, angrier, and more determined Adrian Peterson. Making LAWRENCE 2matters more troubling for non-Cornhusker fans is the reality that Phillips seemed to be achieving his feats with minimal focus either on the field or away from it. Lawrence Phillips is one of the few athletes who challenged the old Woody Hayes mantra of “You win with people.” That mantra was the legendary coach of The Ohio State University Football Team way of relating that personal qualities — commitment, diligence, honesty, and truthfulness — matter on the field, but more importantly in life.

The largest lesson that today’s African-American athletes can learn from the way that Phillips’ life has unraveled is that although your physical attributes may cause those around you, such as Phillips’ collegiate coach, the legendary Tom Osbourne, to look the other way during your most dastardly moments, no one escapes the evil they do.

While at Nebraska, Phillips drug an ex-girlfriend down three flights of stairs by her hair, only to be re-instated by coach Osbourne in time for the gifted running back to lead the Cornhuskers to a national championship. Unfortunately, collegiate coaches were not the only one’s willing to ignore Phillips off-the-field issues. The St. Louis Rams selected Phillips with the sixth-overall pick months after the Cornhuskers national championship victory. In light of such moments, maybe we should not blame Phillips for concluding that he was football’s Mr. Untouchable.

Predictably, Phillips’ uncanny ability to escape accountability for criminal exploits simultaneously ended with his brief National Football League career that was cut short due to his being extremely difficult to deal with. Phillips apparently expected his professional employers to extend him the same privilege that the legions of coaches and law enforcement agencies had previously offered.

A resounding failure in the NFL, Phillips disappeared from the spotlight only to resurface for twice choking an ex-girlfriend and running down three teenagers with his car after a dispute during a pick-up football game. A Judge finally held Phillips accountable and sentenced him to 10 years for the later offense and 31 years in prison for the former charge.

I must admit to being shocked to see Phillips image this morning. However, I was not surprised to see that he was being investigated for murdering Damion Soward, Phillips’ 37 year old cellmate who was LAWRENCE 3serving 82 years to life in prison for first-degree murder. The sad saga of Lawrence Phillips offers cautionary tales for both young athletes and those that handle them. Clearly those who dealt with Phillips failed to hold him accountable for innumerable offenses and transgressions. Put simply, their negligence is a notable factor in this young man’s life being ruined. However, the individual most responsible for this debacle of a life is Mr. Lawrence Phillips himself. Unfortunately, he was so busy pursuing all of the material possessions that one could want that he never paused long enough to receive any of the life lessons that he needed to make it in this world.

Although it appeared in the heat of battle that Woody Hayes’ admonishment that you win with people did not apply to Lawrence Phillips, however, in the marathon of life Coach Hayes’ statement remains valid, character matters in life and everything else that we do.

James Thomas Jones III


©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2015