NFL owners looking out for self

Which side are the NFL owners on you ask? The side of money, of course.

After Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protest during the national anthem last season, the NFL and its owners distanced themselves as far away from him as possible, leaving Kaepernick unemployed to this day. But following President Donald Trump’s attack on players who take a similar stance as Kaepernick, the owners spoke out in defense of the players’ right to freedom of speech. 

Only one thing can make wealthy billionaires change their minds so quickly, and that’s money.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired!” -Donald Trump

With those words said at a campaign rally in Huntsville, AL last Friday, Trump put all 32 owners in a precarious position with their workforce and fanbase. Even if they wanted to, the owners couldn’t fire every player protesting during the national anthem. For one, some of those players are key contributors to what’s supposedly the ultimate goal – winning. Secondly, that would surely turn off the fans who reluctantly stuck around after Kaepernick’s exile.

If the same owners appearing to be blackballing Kaepernick said/did nothing after the president’s comments, they would have looked as if they were in agreement with Trump, the same man whose campaign many of them donated to. This would have led to splintered relationships within organizations. And even the fans who didn’t care about the protests would lose interest soon after.

The above tweet and similar rhetoric further exacerbated the NFL’s need to show a united front, as Trump called on his legion of supporters to boycott a league that is already being boycotted by Kaepernick supporters. The NFL doesn’t stand a chance in a war with the President over the type of people who support him. These are the same people who see the protests during the national anthem as disrespect to our country and military even though Kaepernick verbally expressed exactly what his intent was.

The NFL had no choice but to target the other segment of fans. It couldn’t be divided within its own ranks if it expected to keep the type of people that didn’t see eye-to-eye with the President. Thus, the league and its owners switched sides, some owners even joining their players in linked arms Sunday and Monday on the sidelines.

The only thing left for the NFL owners to do to complete their about-face is re-employ Kaepernick. The odds of that happening are slim to none however, because everything the owners did is a front. Kaepernick is a free agent because the owners didn’t care enough about the issue he was raising awareness for to put up with what they perceived as bad press or a “distraction.” And in linking arms, the owners (and players) effectively hijacked the narrative of what the protest was originally about – police brutality.

So which side are the owners on? They’re on their own side, and their side will always be about the bottomline, and never forget that.
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the greatest

want to know how iconic muhammad ali was?

last night, my work shift was going as it usually does. we knew ali’s health was in dire condition, and we had a plan in place for the worst, but with about 30 minutes remaining until I was scheduled to leave, it seemed i wouldn’t be a part of that scenario. it was almost 12:30 am and i started typing up my shift report, prepared to go home at the top of the hour. that’s when we seen it cross on our news wires. a collective breath left the room. muhammad ali died.

everything that everyone was doing at that moment became irrelevant. no other sports news mattered. we went into full-on ali coverage. this was the biggest death conceivable in our world, the sports world. and it was treated as such. i won’t delve into what the game plan was or how we broke up coverage, but it was obvious very quickly that i was at work on a night i would never forget. i didn’t leave until about 4 am.

any other time you stay almost three hours past your scheduled shift, it’s usually some anger involved. instead, i was selfishly honored to be able to help cover the death of such an icon. in my interview for espn, i was asked what sports moment before my lifetime would i most want to go back and witness. my response was, “any of muhammad ali’s fights, or even a press conference.” i admired ali’s charisma, passion, and activism. outside of youtube, i was too young to have watched him become one of the greatest in the boxing ring and a revered man outside of it, but his story was told and passed down like old folklore. like so many other kids, i wasn’t a fighter and didn’t box, but i wanted to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. and i wanted to be able to talk about my beliefs as freely as he did and back it up. ali was a giant of a human being. he dwarfed the people who thought their skin tone made them better. he cared about all of us.

ali suffered from parkinson’s disease for more than three decades, but some how the images of his young and outspoken self outlived the one of him as a frail, older man. even for someone like myself, who hasn’t lived as long as ali had the disease that caused him to tremble, i remember him as the young man with the short fro and loud, yet eloquent words, who changed his name from cassius clay, refused to fight a war he didn’t believe in, and refused to be treated like less of a man. and he refused to stand by and watch anyone else be treated less than. it’s been said time and time again, and i’ll say it once more: muhammad ali wasn’t the greatest because of what he did in the ring, he was the greatest because of what he stood for outside of it. he was an inspiration for me and millions of people, and will be remembered forever.

perseverance

it was memorial day weekend and both bridget and i had to work. me in connecticut, obviously, and her back in maryland. the thing about it though, is that seemingly everyone else in our circle of friends was off. and not only were they off, but they were vacationing in extravagant places, and enjoying warm weather, and grilling, and eating good. still working a new job, i wasn’t really all that concerned about being at work. bridget, on the other hand, felt stuck. and to make the situation worst, the few hundred miles between her and her best friend (me) made the holiday tougher. i could hear it in her tone, demeanor, and attitude towards me that weekend. so, i flew home to bowie on my next day off, which was monday. 

it worked out because we both happened to be off monday and tuesday. i caught the earliest flight, at 6:45 am, just five hours after leaving work sunday night. bridget picked me up from dulles around 7:30, and we enjoyed a nice “holiday” break together. the trip was even more enjoyable because i got to see my family.

my dad hooked up some ribs on the grill and bridget and i scooped up some crab legs for a nice meal monday evening. a bottle of jameson capped the night off, doing the damage it was meant to do. after recovering the next morning, bridget and i took my niece, bella, to the beach at sandy point. we intended to go to ocean city, but the weather forecast in that area was grim. for the girls, the beach was an enjoyable getaway. for me, the beach was like going to rehab. walking in sand has never been more difficult. it felt like i was inflicting more damage on my injured leg with each step. i didn’t even get in the water. then, the downer of the trip happened when a 7-year-old boy went missing. lifeguards cleared the water before gathering participants to create a rescue line. people interlocked arms and walked across the water to search for a body that was never found. i’m still not sure whether they found him. the situation felt similar to the previous week’s biggest news of the child that got stuck in the gorilla pit. where were the parents?

on that final night, my mom finally grew tired of watching me limp around, and purchased/forced crutches upon me. ironically, the next morning, my leg felt as good as it had since the injury. i left md feeling refreshed and fulfilled. the trip was really just an opportunity to show bridget how close we actually are, and that i’m never too far away. it was important to make that point just a week after she left ct, because it showed her i’m just as willing to travel to see her as she is to see me. it’s not a one way thing. that being said, we can’t afford to travel to see one another every week. now, it’s all about perseverance.

torn

“you have a pulled (torn) muscle. a pulled muscle, or muscle strain, occurs when a muscle is over-stretched and some muscle fibers are torn.”

it took me a few days to even read the diagnosis i was given by the er physician. i didn’t believe her. i thought my injury was worse. for about a week and a half before it happened, my left achilles tendon had been aching, presumably from running or lifting in the fitness center. so when i was playing basketball on monday, and someone landed foot first on that very achilles, applying their full body weight to induce a ripping sensation in the back of my leg, i naturally thought my achilles had ruptured. i couldn’t apply any weight to the leg, so i hopped on one foot to the bleachers, where i sat until i felt like hopping to my car.

everyone in the gym assumed it was an ankle sprain, because that’s the most common basketball injury. but when i insisted it wasn’t my ankle, and that i thought it was my achilles, all anyone could offer was, “you should probably get that checked out.” (because how many people do you know have ever injured an achilles.) i didn’t know what to do. the pain subsided slowly, but enough for me to decide i was good to go home. the decision was made easier by the fact that i hadn’t elected my work benefits yet, so i had no clue what a visit to the emergency room would cost. i took a one-legged shower, packaged some ice, and propped my leg up while i laid on the couch and googled achilles injuries. it was all grim.

while i laid there, my leg and foot area stiffened and swelled up immensely, and not knowing what to do i called a few people, including my mom. ignoring the fact that i wasn’t going to get any other answer from my mom, i allowed her to talk me into going to the er. it hurt like hell to limp my way to the car – and out of the car once i got to the hospital. but if my achilles was in fact torn, it would be worth it. any answer other than “you have a ruptured achilles,” would be a relief, however disappointing. so a pulled “torn” muscle, in my opinion, was not what i was expecting to hear. i opted not to get crutches or even the pain meds the doctor prescribed me.

today is saturday, and i didn’t even read my diagnosis until yesterday. once the doctor said “pulled muscle,” i was disgusted and ready to leave. i probably should’ve taken it more serious. i’ve been limping around the espn campus for the last three days, looking more ridiculous than i felt going to the er on monday. my ankle area is still very swollen and while my leg is slowly healing, i still can’t walk without a significant hitch in my step. it’s actually easier for me to walk sideways. it takes almost half my lunch break just to walk to the cafeteria and back. i’m always a few minutes late into the office even though i pull into the parking lot in good time. i didn’t fully understand or respect the severity of a pulled muscle until now. i still kind of regret going to the er, but at least it provided me the peace of mind to know i wasn’t dealing something even more serious.

can i live?

for the first time in the nearly five months i’ve been in connecticut, bridget made the trip north from maryland. she stayed with me from wednesday to sunday. one of the underlying themes of our relationship, embraced by her and rejected by me, is the notion that i need her to take care of me. she believes i need her to remind me of important dates and times, wash and fold my clothes, cook my food, scratch my back, draw my bath… you get the point. the truth is, she does make my life simpler, and i do need her to an extent, but i’m more than capable of taking care of myself. i think she forgets there was another 26 years of my life before the three we’ve shared.

so, when i ask the question, “can i live?” it’s less jay-z’s plead for understanding and more a rhetorical question. bridget had a chance to see for herself that i’m doing ok. that being said, she still cleaned things i thought was already clean, stocked my refrigerator and cabinets to the max, and booked my next flight to dc. can i live? yea, but she makes sure life is a lot better with her around.

out of the four weeks i’ve been in ct, the one i spent with her was probably the best. we didn’t do anything out of the normal from what we used to do. we went to brunch, we shopped, we cooked together, we ate out, we went to bars, we drank, we laughed, we slept in the same bed, and we enjoyed each other’s company. all the while, i went to work every single day she was here. it still felt like a mini vacation, a break from what’s becoming the norm for me. she teared up when it was finally time for me to take her to the airport on sunday, and we had to rush because i had to go to work after dropping her off. it was quite the anti-climatic ending to a great week, and when i got home from work that night, at 1:30 am, i was alone again.

what i have to look forward to is the day she moves up here permanently, sometime after i put a ring on it. we aren’t rushing the process, but it feels good to have someone who genuinely cares about you and your well being that much. i appreciate and love bridget for that and will always take care of her.

un-defeated

i’ve been plotting the revival of this blog for a few weeks now, probably since i first arrived in connecticut about three weeks ago. what inspired me to go ahead and get started was yesterday’s launch of espn’s new website, theundefeated.com. ironically, i was defeated time and time again yesterday.

to be clear, my blog has nothing to do with the undefeated, but as a black journalist, the premise of a website that explores race and culture in sports, through the lens of black people, got my gears turning to talk about my life experiences.

i actually began my day, tuesday, by waking up at 7 am to catch the undefeated’s editor-in-chief, kevin merida, on the mike & mike show. some of you may get up early every day without a problem. for me, it was a huge problem, especially because i don’t typically leave work until 1 am. i don’t ever go to bed before 2, and not usually before 3. i planned to read a few of the undefeated’s first articles after kevin’s interview, but thought it smarter to catch a few more z’s with open gym basketball looming at noon.

anyone who knows me knows its hard for me to go back to sleep after i’m up. furthermore, i don’t always approach things with the most urgency in the morning. so i laid in bed until about 12, half awake, with total disregard for breakfast. i got up and got dressed, brushed my teeth, and grabbed a protein bar to eat on my way to the gym.

needless to say, i played awfully. i played about three or four games, my teams only won once, and my terrible play had a clear connection to our losses. i left the gym intent to redeem myself, not just the next time i played basketball, but that same day – in a sport i’d never played before.

my department at work is holding a tennis tournament. even as the newbie in my office, my competitive nature caused me to be one of the first people to want in. my match, against alejandro, was two hours after my basketball failures. neither of us owned tennis rackets, but he had raquetball rackets that i agreed to play with. that was my first mistake, being that another co-worker offered me a real racket. my second mistake was that i didn’t want to spend much time warming up once i got to the park. i was just ready to redeem my basketball failures. that was the worst mistake. i went down 2-0 before claiming the first set as a warm up and saying i’d get it together by the second set. that’s when the bomb that we were only playing one set was dropped on me. i put up more of a fight than the final score suggests, but ale beat me 6-0. i was defeated, badly, for the second time in one day.

bitter, but in refusal to let anyone know, i agreed to meet ale at a bar later that evening to have a couple brews. lo and behold, pool tables. i jumped at the opportunity to redeem myself one last time. i know how to play pool. in the first game, i wiped the table clean of all but one striped ball, while ale had just about every solid still on the table. i missed my next shot only to see him clear the table in one go. this loss might have been the most painful of the day. i did win the next two, and final, pool games, so the night eventually ended on a high note, but i don’t think i’ve ever taken so many crushing losses in one day.

it’s all good, though. my competitive confidence won’t be shaken. on the day the undefeated launched, i was un-defeated. next time i go to the gym, i’m playing like a mad man. i may never play tennis again, but if i’m challenged i’ll take it.