While it remains impossible to open a window into a personâ€™s soul to see whether the poison of racism resides there, it is possible to screen those whose words and actions suggest that they harbor such beliefs.
Donald Sterlingâ€™s words and actions suggest that he does. And the evidence existed long before TMZ published its tape of his voice.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Sterling agreed in 2009 to a $2.765 million settlement of charges that he discriminated against African-Americans and others at an apartment building he owned. The Times also reports that a lawsuit filed in 2003 accused Sterling of saying â€œHispanics smoke, drink and just hang around the building,â€ and that â€œblack tenants smell and attract vermin.â€ The case was resolved with a confidential settlement, but Sterling reportedly paid $5 million in legal fees to the plaintiffs.
Amazingly, those claims and the settlements of those claims generated little or no publicity or scorn of Sterling. If an NFL owner were accused of such conduct, the mere allegations would become major national news. If an NFL owner ever settled a case involving such allegations, the league office undoubtedly would be forced to take decisive action or face strong contentions of the existence of a double standard.
Itâ€™s all the more reason for the NFL to treat this occasion as the catalyst for ensuring that its house â€” specifically, its 32 houses â€” are in order. Existing owners should be warned clearly about the potential consequences of such conduct. Potential owners should be screened even more carefully to determine that they have done or said nothing that would suggest that their hearts are rotten with racism or other qualities that could result in their wealth and power being used to violate the rights of others.
Per a league source, NFL owners already expect Commissioner Roger Goodell to address the situation in some way at the next ownership meetings in May.
Itâ€™s often impossible to get to the truth of a personâ€™s attitudes regarding matters of race. But the Sterling situation underscores the importance of taking all reasonably available steps to ensure that the countryâ€™s biggest sports business is doing business with people who have not only the wealth to assume such an important responsibility, but also the character.
I am a big fan of Pro Football Talk and itâ€™s publisher, Mike Florio. Today Florio has a great post on Braylon Edwards in which Florio writes about the hypocrisy of the New York Jets and all of professional sports.
Francesa’s core message is on the money. The Jets could have done much more to Edwards, and the idea that they didn’t out of deference to the union is cover for ensuring that a starting-calibre receiver is on the field.
So when you hear any of the various talking heads on ESPN (we noticed several of them doing it today) explaining that the Jets had no choice but to let Edwards play, it’s simply not true. If the Jets wanted to send a message to Edwards and the rest of the locker room, they could have told Edwards to stay in New York this weekend.
But, as Francesa put it, the Jets care about the Dolphins. And they want to beat the Dolphins. And they think that Edwards will help them beat the Dolphins.
What else should we expect? They traded for Edwards two days after he was arrested for assault. Nearly a year later, they’re merely sleeping in the bed they made.
Itâ€™s not just the Jets, it is all professional sports teams (and I include many NCAA programs in with that). All they care about winning which translates into making money for the owners. Itâ€™s a world where you can beat your girlfriend and drag her up and down some stairs, not only do you not get cut, you get drafted in the first round. You can drive drunk, you can bring multiple guns into the locker room and pull them on a teammate. You can be involved in drug deals, or vehicular homicide. Look at the clean cut University of Florida Gators, 30 arrests since Urban Meyer has come in as coach. When you have that many players arrested, something is wrong but as long as Urban Meyer continues to deliver SEC titles and NCAA championships, will anyone in Florida care?
I am a big Bobby Knight fan. He said one of the most satisfying thing that he did as a coach was win against teams that he knew was cheating because he knew he was playing within the rules. I wish more university presidents, athletic directors, and coaches felt the same wayâ€¦ at every level.
Mike Florio has a great article in the Sporting News on the â€œsacrificeâ€ coaches make to succeed.
In the wake of Urban Meyer’s decision to step down as coach of the Florida Gators — and before he decided less than 24 hours later not to step down after all — the media erupted with lamentations regarding the long hours football coaches devote to their professions.
Even at the college level, which provides significantly less access to players, coaches spend countless hours recruiting new players … and making sure their current players stay out of trouble … and fielding calls from parents … and studying film … and doing all sorts of other things that sound incredibly demanding and challenging.
Give me a break.
These guys are living the dream. They get paid millions of dollars, they bask in the limelight, and they never have to lift anything heavier than a suitcase. If the price is devoting every waking moment from July through December to preparing their teams for games and most waking moments in the other six months of the year laying the foundation for the coming season, then so be it.
And guess what: If guys like Urban Meyer don’t want to do it, folks who have "real" jobs will line up out the door and down the street and across the bridge for a crack at replacing them.
The same thing applies to NFL coaches, some of whom supposedly rise earlier than the Amish. (And if you didn’t know that, just ask them.) Though I’ve always been skeptical of the notion that former Raiders and Bucs coach Jon Gruden starts each day long before the cock crows, so what if guys like Gruden get up extra early to watch game film and to figure out how best to plan the plays that will be called against an upcoming opponent?
No matter how hard they work, it’s not work. It’s organized play.
Limbaugh also suggested that he was led to believe he’d have a role in the operation of the team, but he did not contradict Checketts’ recent representation that Limbaugh was only going to be a minority owner.
Limbaugh then argued that his exclusion from the process originated with NFLPA Executive Director De Smith, and then Limbaugh argued that Smith is essentially an operative for the Obama administration, and that Smith essentially scared NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (whose last name Limbaugh inexplicably mispronounced) into not doing business with Limbaugh.
Specifically, Limbaugh claims that the move was part of the union’s leverage against the NFL as part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
But the NFL and the union currently are at odds on multiple topics. The notion that the NFL would cave to Smith given his ties to Obama on this one issue — and not on any of the other far more important points of contention between the two sides — suggests a superficial understanding of the business of the NFL at best, and a conscious manipulation of reality at worst.
So Rush believes he was dumped because the union wants to "intimidate and frighten" the owners, who by the way currently are doing their best to intimidate and frighten the union by sending up continuous smoke signals of a looming lockout. And it’s all part of a broader effort by the President to put pro football under his thumb. Despite the fact that the owners are currently doing their best to intimidate and frighten the union into thinking that a lockout is coming.
Republican or Democrat, red state or blue state, conservative or liberal, the notion that Limbaugh was railroaded by the White House as part of a broader effort by the White House to impose its agenda on pro football makes no sense.
A quick question, do any of think that Barack Obama blocked (or even cared) if Rush Limbaugh owns a small part of the St. Louis Rams? The threat to the NFLâ€™s business plan seemed to be more at risk from Rushâ€™s comments rather than Barack Obamaâ€™s re-election chances. I agree with Mike Florio, Rush lives in a different reality than the rest of us, this time his departure from reality was just a little more harmless and little more humorous than usual. The bigger question is, â€œWhat was Dave Checkettâ€™s thinking when he asked Rush to join his ownership team?â€ I wish someone would do a poll to see even if Rushâ€™s listeners bought his comments that Obama is blocking him from owning a NFL team.