Commentary: Sports announcer’s comments were inappropriate

Dr. James B. Ewers Jr.

Commentary: Sports announcer’s comments were inappropriate
December 11
23:27 2019

By Dr. James B. Ewers Jr.

I watch and listen to a lot of basketball and football games. The competitive nature of sports in general resonates with me. There is no gray area in sports as you either win or you lose. That is the sheer beauty of it. If you aren’t prepared for the highs and lows of athletic competition, then it is probably not for you.

Because I watch and I listen, sports announcers play a role in the games, especially at the college and the professional level. These sports’ “talking heads” add flair and drama to these contests. It is not only what they say, but it is how they say it that gives us that extra special feeling.

For example, when Dick Enberg said “oh, my,” you knew it was an important moment in the game. I can recall Keith Jackson with his signature “Oh, Nellie” which made you feel like you were at the game. How about Dick Vitale telling us that a basketball player is a diaper dandy. Don’t forget Stuart Scott who would always say, “He’s as cool as the other side of the pillow.”

These announcers are legends and we can name many more who make us cheer and laugh. All have given us some great moments and are certainly in the announcers’ hall of fame. Whether you agree, I believe announcers play some role in player popularity. It’s amazing for instance how football stars emerge as they are talked about because of their ability. Just a few years ago, it was Robert Griffin III. He made the read option play his personal highlight reel. Was he going to run or was he going to give it to a running back? Running quarterbacks are susceptible to some big hits. RG III got hit, came back from injury too soon, and is now a backup quarterback with the Baltimore Ravens.

Last year, it was Patrick Mahomes, quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs. He dazzled us with his off-balance throws and led his team to the playoffs.

Now, Lamar Jackson is taking the NFL by storm and the read option to another level. He is the quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens and is playing at an elite level. Defenses are at a loss as to how to stop him. Arguably, he is the leading candidate for the Most Valuable Player award.

Recently, the San Francisco 49ers played the Baltimore Ravens and lost. It was a close game and was won on a field goal as time expired. Tim Ryan, the radio analyst for the 49ers made some less than flattering comments about Lamar Jackson. Ryan said, “He’s really good at that fake Lamar Jackson, but when you consider his dark skin with a dark football with a dark uniform, you could not see a thing.”

When I initially heard what he said, I immediately went into football shock. The statements were unbelievable. Fortunately, I have since recovered. Mr. Ryan, a former NFL player turned radio personality could have said a lot of different things about Lamar Jackson. How about Lamar Jackson really is quite clever with the football or he really hides that football well. Maybe he could have said that the 49ers are really confused by Jackson’s superior ball-handling skills.

Skin color and dark jersey didn’t have to enter the picture. I would say Tim Ryan chose a poor choice of words to describe Lamar Jackson. Ryan admittedly misspoke and has since apologized. The San Francisco 49ers suspended him for one game.

All of us have at one time or another misspoken. The key is to quickly recognize it and to apologize for it. Being careful and being cautious with our words will always bode well for us. I believe Tim Ryan has learned a valuable lesson. By the way, let us be crystal clear about the fact that Lamar Jackson is an excellent quarterback and is having a great season.

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

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