Commentary: Did NFL fight reinforce the stereotype about us?

Commentary: Did NFL fight reinforce the stereotype about us?
December 07
04:00 2017

Did you watch the Oakland Raiders and the Denver Broncos game a few weeks ago? If you did, you also saw the fight between Oakland’s wide receiver, Michael Crabtree and Denver’s cornerback, Aqib Talib. At one point, I was wondering whether I was watching a football game or a UCF match.

Now if you didn’t know, Talib and Crabtree already had bad blood between them. This altercation was about a piece of jewelry worn by Crabtree. That’s right, a piece of jewelry!

The entire scenario was both sad and pathetic.  Here you have two elite football players fighting over a piece of jewelry. Some reports suggest Crabtree taped the jewelry to his person so that Talib couldn’t snatch it.

First off, is it customary for NFL players to wear jewelry while they are playing? Second, does Talib dislike Crabtree so much he wants to take his jewelry from him? Both questions have multiple answers such that it would make for a great debate topic.

The NFL originally suspended them for two games but upon appeal, each has a one game suspension now. If I was the rules infractions guy, I would have suspended them for two games without pay and made them do 500 hours of community service.

As you know, Michael Crabtree and Aqib Talib are black men. Watching these two guys go at it made me think about the current perception some people have about us these days.

We know there are many black men who are successful and are leading productive lives. We know that our young black boys are making good decisions about their post-high school plans. We see them securing jobs with training, going into the armed services and attending college, all in great numbers.

Black men are leading their families and seen as pillars of leadership and strength in our communities. We are teaching our children HT (home training) and social responsibility. Their futures are bright because of our collective efforts. We are giving them a spiritual foundation, which we know is the key to being successful and staying grounded. We see this being played out in our communities each day and it makes us proud. Yet there is a faction in our society that sees us differently.

Let’s just look at this Talib and Crabtree incident. The National Football League is now beginning to tackle social justice issues. They have received a lot of backlash for these efforts. Seeing this fight only gives their adversaries more firepower to say that we are out of control. Can you blame them? Their refrain is they see black men robbing and shooting each other each day. Their response is that the fight this time took place on the football field instead of the streets. Are they right?

It takes both discipline and confidence to play sports. This is what I know, not what I think. It takes discipline and confidence to be at your best in the tough moments. Pressure to make good decisions is a part of sports competition.

Many would say after watching the Crabtree and Talib spectacle that they showed no discipline and no confidence. When you are in the public square, you can’t go around and act the fool. Whether you like it or not, your lavish lifestyles can be here today and gone tomorrow. You must know that the letters NFL stand for “not for long.”

Let’s hope that Aqib Talib and Michael Crabtree learned a valuable lesson and can move forward without further altercations when they compete against each other in the future.

James B. Ewers  Jr. Ed.D. is a former tennis champion at Atkins High School in Winston-Salem and played college tennis at Johnson C. Smith University, where he was all-conference for four years. He is a retired college administrator. 

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