Stephen A. debuts at ESPN The Mag

May 9, 2008

In the latest edition of ESPN the Magazine, basketball analyst and political pundit Stephen A. Smith’s new column debuted.  In case you missed it, Smith’s radio show ended a few weeks back and there was wide speculation that we was done at tWWL. But he has a new contract and, among his new roles, he will be a featured columnist on ESPN.com and in The Mag. In a way, aside from his many television roles, Smith is getting back to his roots as a writer. Say what you want about him, but in his hey day, he was a very good reporter and columnist, particularly in Philly. And plus, another black columnist in a major media publication and online entity is a good thing.

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But this isn’t like him…

May 6, 2008

For the record, I’m not a Colts fan. I am, however, a Peyton Manning fan simply because I like the way he plays the game, and to me, his off-the-field ads/endorsements are funny. Plus, the few times I’ve had the opportunity to come in contact with him, he’s seemed genuine. And, I’m a big Tony Dungy fan. Aside from being a Super Bowl winning coach, I believe he’s a man of values and stature who should be a role model for men of all races to aspire to be like.

But that’s where it ends. However, because of their success, I’ve had no other choice but to watch them play because it seems they’re the national game every week during the regular, so I feel like I know the team fairly well.  I know Joseph Addai, Dallas Clark, Reggie Wayne, Jeff Saturday

And Marvin Harrison.

Harrison is arguably one of the top-5 receivers of the past 20 years. His numbers can’t be ignored and he finally added a Super Bowl ring to his resume a couple of years ago. But he doesn’t get the same national attention because he isn’t as “flamboyant” as some of his other wide receiver counterparts — Chad Johnson, T.O., Brandon Marshall, etc. Because he’s “quiet” and “plays the game with respect” he has been lauded by the media. Because he doesn’t celebrate when he scores a touchdown, he’s squeaky clean.

So this week, when allegations surfaced about Harrison being involved in a shooting incident in his native North Philly ‘hood, I was curious to see how people and the media would respond now that something like this has happened to a “Marvin Harrison type of guy”

For the record, count me among the many who didn’t see this coming, but don’t count me as one who was suprised. One of the mistakes fans and media make, particularly when analyzing the black athlete, is thinking we know how a person is based on how they look and what they do for the 2-3 hours they’re about catching a ball.

Assumptions are made and stereotypes are formed. If said player is tatted up, beats his chest and shows any kind of emotions, more than likely, to the outside world at least, there has to be something wrong with him and he’s labeled as troubled and a thug. On the flip side, a player like Harrison, who doesn’t draw attention to himself and is soft-spoken, can’t possibly have any problems because it just doesn’t seem like something he’d do.

Guilt or innocence is besides the point. I hope Harrison makes it through this. Say what you want about T.O. and he perceived selfishness and arrogance, but you never hear about him getting arrested, in trouble etc. But the media potrays him as the bad guy. Maybe we should stop thinking we know people based on what we see once or twice a week when they’re in a uniform.

 


Random Thoughts

May 1, 2008

 

-I’ve always wondered how long Johnny Dawkins would stay at Duke. With Coach K still very young (by coaching standards), it seemed it would be at least 8-10 years before the Duke job came open. And, even then, would he be named the successor.

While being the head assistant at one of the premier college programs in the nation is a great job, at some point one would think Dawkins would want to branch out for himself and get from under the shadow of Coach K.

So, when Dawkins accepted the Stanford job late last week, it was surprising, yet promising. I think Stanford is as perfect fit for Dawkins because of its similarities to Duke as far as athletics and academic requirements. And while Dawkins is a East Coast (D.C) guy and has never been heavily involved in the travel aspect of recruiting, I think he’ll be successful. Former coach Trent Johnson, who left for LSU established a solid foundation for Dawkins to come in and take it to the next level.

– We all saw how Barry Bonds was treated by the media during his last and finals days. We saw the scrutiny and harsh treatment Bonds received anytime he stepped outside of AT&T stadium. Many were quick to call racism and say Bonds was treated unfairly by the media and fans. On the flip side, many felt because Bonds had been a jerk throughout his career, the treatment he was receiving was well-deserved.

Part of me felt it was race and another part felt it was magnified simply because Bonds was the “biggest” name implicated thus far in the entire steroids scandal. I was curious to see what would happen when and if another star, particularly white, would come under fire.

So when Roger Clemens was first implicated in the Mitchell Report, I pulled up my seat to watch. Initially, as I wrote on here, I felt Roger was getting a pass. I was all ready to jump on the “call for bullshit” bandwagon.

But in the last few days with allegations of women of the side, coupled with everything that has taken place in the last few months with the congressional meetings and Brian McNemee and all that, methinks Roger Clemens has had an equal, if not worse, fall from grace.


Harold Reynolds is back

April 24, 2008

Newsday’s Neil Best is reporting everyone’s favorite huggable baseball analyst will be returning to television. Reynolds, who has been working for MLB.com, will appear as a studio analyst for SNY, the cable home of the New York Mets.

Most people remember and came to enjoy Reynolds for his work on Baseball Tonight.  But an unfortunate incident of sexual harassment occurred and Reynolds was shown the door. While many questioned the whole episode and rallied behind the popular Reynolds, he found himself from the Worldwide Leader to the little used MLBtv. An unfortunate “fall from grace” so to speak. Reynolds did sue ESPN and, after a long process, it was settled last week.

So congrats and good luck to Reynolds, although if you’re outside the tri-state area, you probably won’t see him on a regular basis.


Robbins steps down at Virginia Union

April 16, 2008

Some shocking news came out of Richmond yesterday as Dave Robbins, head coach at Division II Virginia Union, announced his retirement after 30 years at the helm of the Panther program.

Now, to those who didn’t grow up in the area, or are not familiar with CIAA basketball, this means nothing to you. But, for the rest of us, this was a monumental announcement. For starters, in today’s age, any coach who stays at a school more than 10 years has made a major accomplishment. Robbins did that, plus more. But being the first white coach hired in a conference of Historically Black Colleges and Universities was perhaps Robbins most difficult task to overcome.

For years, Robbins was “affectionately” known as the “Shadow” among his coaching colleagues and fans alike. It could have been easy for Robbins to let this get to him, and it probably did — sometimes. But, methinks that was part “test” by those in the CIAA to see how real he was and part jealousy.

Whatever it was initially, Robbins put his stamp on the CIAA and Division II basketball and leaves one the most successful coaches in history.  In his 30 years at Union, Robbins compiled a 713-194 record, won three Division II national championships and coached three future NBA players — Charles Oakley, Terry Davis and Ben Wallace.

Good luck, Coach Robbins.


Aldridge leaving the Philly Ink

April 11, 2008

Kudos to the boys over at The Starting Five for this news.  It appears columnist and NBA guru David Aldridge is taking a buyout from the Philadelphia Inquirer. From Jackie Mac to Sam Smith, it appears, lately at least, that this is sadly becoming a trend in the newspapaer business.

Back to Aldridge, for as long as I can remember, he’s been one of the go-to voices of the NBA in the print/TV media. And while I honestly haven’t kept up with his writing at the Inquirer, he was always solid on ESPN and now on TNT. It appears Aldridge is worn out from working tow job and is going to focus on his television work, which is fine by me. i wish him the best.

However with Aldridge taking the buyout, that means in the past year, the Inquirer’s sports section has lost two of most prominent columnists, both of whom happen to be black — Aldridge and Stephen A. Smith. Now I’m sure this isn’t on purpose and we know both of these guys have solid tv gigs to fall back on, but there are now two fewer black sports columnists in the print media. And that’s not a good thing. Sure, there’s the dot-com/online wave of the future, but for the most part young sports journalists get their start in newspapers and with black columnists dwindling, who are the role models?

Many young journalists see the “glory” of some of these prominent journalists who’ve “made it” but don’t know their story of how they got there. And if these faces aren’t in the newsroom, that’s a problem.


Dumbass

April 3, 2008

henry.jpg

The next time you’re involved in a conversation with someone or you read a blog (including TBQ) and the subject is how the black athlete is always wrongly stereotyped by fans and sometimes the media, stop and think about players like Chris Henry.

It is because of the stupidity that he and others (Pacman) have shown, that messes it up for the masses who are behaving like they’re supposed to. It’s because of players like Henry that some folk think that a lot of our black athletes are just a bunch of overpaid thugs. Is it right, no? But when you hear stories about Henry, what do you expect the reaction to be.

In the latest entry to the Henry off the field saga, the 24-year-old was arrested for the fifth time this week after being accused of punching an 18-year-old in the face and breaking his car window with a beer bottle.

Seriously? WTF is this guy thinking?

For reasons unbeknowst to me, the Bengals kept giving Henry chance after chance after chance. And time after time, he kept finding himself in trouble. Part of me wonders who is giving this young brother advice and part of me feels sorry for him. But, on the other hand, part of me is like — you’re a grown man who has an opportunity that hundreds would do anything for, and you can’t behave? That, to me, is a problem I can’t solve.

But the team finally released the troubled wide receiver  today, saying “His conduct can no longer be tolerated.”

Some team will probably give Henry a chance. Maybe not this year, but he’s young enough that he has some time left. I just hope, for his  sake, that he will grown and give himself a chance to play, and not be in jail somewhere.