Men in the mirror-NFL’s real view on women and sports

You're best seen & not heard, don't forget to buy some PINK Bears cheekies!

You’re best seen & not heard, don’t forget to buy some PINK Bears cheekies!

By Ashanti Bradshaw

This has been a week shrouded with rather unflattering off-season news for two NFL superstars, one active and the other now contributes his time to the NFL Network (same network that thought bringing on a certain former Raider/Buccaneer blowhard/crumb snatcher/cancer amongst women would be a banner idea).

I know who they are. You know who they are but for laughs let’s just refer to them as Beavis & Butthead.  Why “Beavis & Butthead”, you say? I say “why not?”
                                                         
Beavis is currently facing 2 counts of allegedly drugging and raping 2 women, as if the Saints needed more negative exposure post-Bounty Gate. Meanwhile Butthead was spotted in a casino channeling his inner WWE entertainer by choke-slamming his fianceè (was The People’s Elbow not a good enough move to get your point across?) and dragging her.

I know you’re saying “Wow that’s digusting!” and I absolutely agree, this behavior has been going on for much longer than most would like to admit to. Some would ask “Is anything being done about it?” Well there is the Personal Conduct policy that players agree to, in no way do I feel domestic violence is covered the way it needs to be. This is a learned behavior, no one starts abusing women the minute that ink dries on their contract.

Even with the NFL launching tactics geared towards female fans, like the form-fitting jerseys and NFL apparel line found in stores like Victoria’s Secret, no amount of bejeweled pink jerseys or pink cleats for Breast Cancer Awareness Month is going to deflect my focus away from the fact that the league truly has no deep respect for women nor does it plan to even entertain trying to see us as anything but subserviant breeders who should only respond to “Kitchen, now!”.

Also consider the fact that famed tennis powerhouses, Venus and Serena Williams, are both minority owners of the Miami Dolphins, another team that had a whopper of a shadow cast upon it when the Incognito/Martin incident began. An incident that was rife with bigotry and racist names, which is ongoing in locker room culture but in the case of what the media has deemed a “bullying scandal” amongst the Dolphins’ club one could ask if the Williams sisters felt insulted by having players on the team who think so little about minorities(in this instance, women and blacks)? Do they even care this is tolerated? I’m sure they had an inkling as to what they were getting into before agreeing to take a stake in the franchise but I know that they’re really just “one of the gang” for the sake of exposure. No matter how that exposure makes you look.

Do I expect sweeping changes in response to the ongoing lapse in the league’s understanding of women & how it should be known from the front offices down to the mascots? Of course not. But I’m not going to act like  I’m not fully aware of how out of touch the NFL is & that they aren’t really ready for change, they’d just rather give the impression that they’re hip and cool and “down” when really they’re mumbling under their breath about your worthlessness simply because of who you are and that you exist.

Just as I mentioned in my previous piece “O Gay Brother, Where Art Thou?”, on the surface the league isn’t as ready for out & proud players as they want to elude to* just like they will never take women seriously. But so long as you’re willing to fork over all your money to help add to sales in NFL merch, then the greater good is beyond pleased and all that ugliness about how players treat/view women is swept under the proverbial team emblem-ladled rug….

….you know, til one of us is killed by a player. Maybe by accident, maybe for not staying in our place. But you know it’s coming. What’s that thing people say about history repeating itself & how “it has to get worse before it gets better”? Right. I would rather my extreme example not be the end result that shakes things up but clouds are also not made of cotton candy so all one (woman) really can do is pray to your religious deity (be it Jesus, Buddah, that shrine of Tom Brady complete with a lock of his hair and a pair of unworn classic UGGS, or Aquaman) and hope for the best.

* (UPDATE:as I wrote this news broke that the Brooklyn Nets will sign Jason Collins so I’ll definitely be watching to see what type of reception spawns from this)

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O Gay Brother, Where Art Thou?

By Ashanti Bradshaw

Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report released an article Wednesday on the current status on homosexuality in the NFL and the stalemate between two unidentified players who are, not only ready to be signed and play football, they’re ready to announce to fans and players of the NFL that they’re gay.

Why is it stalled? Simply put:fear.

At a time when states are finally realizing the importance of same-sex marriage to their everyday livelihoods, the NFL says that it’s ready to embrace gay players but deep-down it isn’t nearly as ready as it thinks. For example, the instability of the Dolphins’ locker room and how it now paints a grim picture on locker room culture. For a male already having to struggle with gaining judgement-free acceptance from society, hoping to get anything close to the same brotherly protection his hetero counterparts have reads like a pipe dream.

I commend the optimism in those still wanting to embrace these men into a league shrouded by that brute, simplistic Old World mentality when it comes to the sexuality of others. They fully intend to lead by example because as the years change so does that of the mindset of generations to come.

Some currently active players come from upbringings that either taught tolerance of others or shared ignorance, many of whom have personal experiences based solely on what the male figures in their lives deemed as “feminine behavior” or “not of God’s will”, a.k.a. “The Adam & Eve, Not Adam & Steve Mentality”. This starts at home, bleeds into college and develops over many lifetimes.

Individual tolerance starts at that very point, on an individual level. Only this one person can decide for themselves if they will open their heart and mind to many differences including cultures and sexualities, the world is after all still a melting pot.

Hazing in the locker room has gone on for much longer than people want to accept, and certain behaviors just grew acceptable but with the idea of ushering in a sexually-open NFL changes to those behaviors won’t be an easy feat. Again it will have to start on an individual basis, with many of those in leadership positions showing younger players this is a new NFL and the old way of doing things is now passè.

No one really knows for sure the timetable on when we will have a more accepting NFL, even with the league’s Personal Conduct Policy policing tolerant behavior we still have players who are tough nuts to crack. Will future changes be made to the policy once everything is official, but not so much that players will feel like they’ll have to coddle gay players? I sincerely hope not. Eventually they will have to ready themselves for gay rookies and in a perfect world they’ll do so with open arms.

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Filed under NFL, Real Talk, Roundtable

Waking Up To “League Of Denial”

By Ashanti Bradshaw

Last night while many were engulfed in the MLB playoffs, others were tuned in to PBS’ gripping documentary centered around the ongoing controversy between the NFL and pro players, both active and retired. 

Now one could say that you’d be hard-pressed to not have heard some inkling of news regarding the thousands of players who filed suit against the league, accusing it of turning a blind eye on the repercussions involved in football, most notably dementia and CTE (also known as Chronic Trauma Encephalopathy), or scrutinize those who seem to be the most surprised about any of the revelations made known during the PBS broadcast but anyone will tell you that nothing about head trauma within the NFL is remotely breaking news.

In September of this year NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league agreed to a $765 million settlement payout to some nearly 4500 former players seeking restitution for what they felt was the league purposely withholding evidence linking football to concussions & the long-term effects that spawn from it:dementia and suicide are just a few of the bigger players. While these findings are staggering at best the larger argument here is that the league, who would rather suggest that steroids are the reason for so many concussed results than admit to football being the sole cause (the very same steroids you deemed permissible, NFL? Oh.), as well as players will continue being a part of the very game that’s just as physical as ever but only now is that level of physicality being questioned.

The maneuvers that the NFL have taken to show that they’re really taking this matter can look like they’re admitting guilt and trying to right all wrongs to the untrained eye (the Heads Up program geared towards Pop Warner teams, for example), but it’s yet another PR move designed to distract your attention away from the fact that football on any level whether pro or high school will continue being the monolith that it has become amongst contact sports and arguably the most popular sport in America. Always safety first.

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Filed under Habitual line stepper, NFL

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME PETITIONS!! 100 Thousand Fans Are Tired Of Your Crap, Roger Goodell

We want YOU to pay your taxes, NFL!

By Ashanti Bradshaw
One woman (who I assume is a Saints fan based on her location) and many, MANY, pissed-off fans have taken their frustrations to the Internet and Change.org to start a petition aimed at the NFL asking Congress to revoke their tax-exempt status. Organizations like the MLB and NBA have in the past given up their status as a non-profit, allowing them to pay federal taxes but the NFL has yet to follow suit. Below is a copy of said petition, currently signed by 121,213 people:
_______________________________________________
To:

Congress

I just signed the following petition addressed to: Congress.

—————-
Revoke the Tax-Exempt Status of the National Football League

Despite the fact that it is a $9Billion/Year Industry, the NFL Commissioner and Owners continue to enjoy status as a non-profit organization. The NFL should pay their fair share towards our economy! Additionally, they have methodically worked to shift all the power to their side, leaving players, employees and PARTICULARLY THE FANS little say in what goes on with the league. We deserve a say, but do not wish to boycott our teams! Therefore, we are calling on our elected representatives to revoke the tax-exempt status we bestowed upon the league half a century ago. Please write letters to your editors, to your senators and congresspeople, and sign the petition!
—————-

Sincerely,

[Your name]
_______________________________________________
Hard to say just how far this will go or if Congress would lean hard enough on the league for changes to be made, but it’s definitely clear that devoted fans have had just about enough with the No Fun League.

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A Tale Of Two Gayles

Photo courtesy of SI

By Ashanti Bradshaw

It was reported earlier today that Bears HOF’er Gale Sayers is in fact NOT suing the NFL and helmet company Riddell on claims that the helmets fail to prevent concussions, and this is mere hours after it was also reported yesterday that Sayers had filed said suit. This lawsuit was actually originally field by Shaun Gayle, former Bears safety.

Now here’s where it gets…..weird? I guess? I don’t really know.

In the lawsuit it’s Gayle who notes that he’s now suffering from headaches, short-term memory loss, and that the affliction is caused by chronic trauma encephalopathy. But nowhere does it state that Gale Sayers is in fact diagnosed with having had concussions and having experienced symptoms so many years after the fact. Sayers claims he only spoke with an attorney last Thursday after Gayle reached out to him regarding the lawsuit. Sayers denies consenting to any such lawsuit being filed on his behalf.

So which is it? Is Gayle really suffering from the same issues that forced Dave Duerson, also a former safety for the Chicago Bears, to take his own life in February of 2011? And for that matter, has Gale Sayers been suffering in silence this entire time but just hasn’t spoken up? It was only last month that the NFL awarded more than 3 quarters of a billion dollars to thousands of retired players who experienced concussion-related health problems in their post-career lives & sued the league for not informing them of long-term risks involved with the sport they loved to play.

While I don’t want to jump to conclusions here and assume that this sounds fishy, one can’t help but feel some sort of way about it. Especially because of Sayers coming out and stating that he didn’t okay consent to file the suit. This is definitely a developing story however I do hate that it’s putting a pretty bad view on the concussion battle between players and the NFL.

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Filed under Chicago Bears, NFL, Real Talk

The Best Man : A Basketball Story

The king of Queens

The king of Queens

By Wayne Evans

Good evening, y’all. For those of you that are movie-philes and follow all of the new releases, I know “The Best Man Holiday” has not come out yet, but I thought the title fit what I wanted to bring to you tonight.
As we all know, Dwight Howard has decided to leave the L.A. Lakers for what he perceives will be “greener pastures” with the Houston Rockets. I don’t know if he’s right, but I do know that he flip-flopped worse than everyone’s favorite Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, before finally making a decision. Dwight could’ve decided to stay with the Lakers and show that he could be “the man” and show the front office that he could LEAD the team until “The Black Mamba” came back. but instead chose to go to Houston and team with “The Beard” aka James Harden bka “I throw thousands at urban models to chill” and form what he HOPES will be a Batman/Robin type duo. For his sake, I hope and pray it works…
Speaking of moving on, that brings me to the case of Metta World Peace. World Peace was just amnestied by the very same Los Angeles Lakers and subsequently signed with the New York Knicks, can you say “Queensbridge”? (LOL) Metta gives the Knicks that other “bully” (s/o @loopybloggernyc) for lack of a better term to surround Tyson Chandler and I think he’ll pair very well with Kenyon Martin, helping to offset the loss of Chris Copeland aka “The X Factor”. The only other thing I’ll warn New York Knicks fans and media to look out for is the esoteric and “existential negro” tweets/quotes that MWP is bound to give you the two years that he’ll be with your team. One thing I know for sure, he will most certainly be missed by the Lakers and by one Kobe “Bean” Bryant.
Kobe’s not gonna cry, but it has to suck losing your center and your enforcer all in one week and knowing that there is nothing you can do about it. Now I know how Ric Flair must’ve felt when Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard left the NWA for the then WWF. #WorstWeekEver

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Filed under For the shorties, NBA, WWE

Stop Turning A Blind Eye & Face Facts

we are trayvon

In March 2013 a group of protesters took to the streets of Brooklyn immediately in response to the shooting death of 16-year-old Kimani Gray, a black teen who while having a checkered legal past didn’t warrant being gunned down at the hands of two NYPD plainclothes officers. Vigils were scheduled in wake of the teen’s death, which soon developed into full-on protests but later broke out into riots throughout the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn. The area was soon designated as a “Frozen Zone”, meaning no media coverage be taken of what transpired on March 9, 2013. This resulted in a social media uprising the likes of which had never been seen, with Twitter hashtags being devoted to the coverage so those not in the immediate area could follow along and stay informed.

This is now the norm for how our society gets its more groundbreaking social news, not just topical water cooler filler. But why does this have to be the way? Growing up all I’d see on the news were journalists and anchors covering some of the biggest developments in our world’s history, now we’ve entered a foreign place in time where everyday people aren’t just focusing on things like the fact that violence has gotten worse in primarily black neighborhoods but are tackling getting to the bottom of why violence has escalated so quickly. Something that your local 3-letter news station simply chooses to ignore, primarily because it isn’t attractive enough for their demographic.

Look at your average news coverage. In the first 5-10 minutes you will regularly see stories about innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire of gang shootings or an “isolated incident” involving a black male/female being gunned down by police for allegedly brandishing a weapon which may or may not have been found at the crime scene. Not once do you ever hear about any of the good things like 15 year-old Tony Hansberry II who created a stitching technique that’ll best help minimize surgical complications. But if young Tony were a gang member or happened to be in the area while a shooting took place & ended up on a stretcher (or worse, a metal slab) then we’d be holding vigils and protests because of yet another young life taken too soon. It shouldn’t have to take a life lost for you to “care”, American media.

The sad reality is sensationalism sales in journalism, there is nothing sexy about violence yet so many stations have the worst case of tunnel vision surrounding this. If neither of the country-wide Trayvon Martin protests haven’t broken out in actual riots, complete with looting and fires and serious violence then no media outlet will cover it. Point blank. What disgusts me more is how this hasn’t been challenged, that a voice bigger than tweets and bloggers who has a larger audience isn’t bringing light to this atrocity. If I were going into college this fall seeking a career in journalism I’d be dead set on paving my own trail, because if no one in the media world will get to the heart of these matters then it’s left to those like myself to do it instead. It’s called the ugly truth for a reason but sitting idly by while it’s swept under a huge rug of ignorant bliss won’t make it go away. As a writer I have no problem with this insurgence of news coverage via tweets, who better to hear the stories from than those on the frontline, but the total lack of concern for covering these topics when it’s your job greatly disturbs me. I’m to wonder exactly how many people who were instructed back in March not to cover the Brooklyn protest realized the error in their ways and either walked away to take a more grass-roots approach or just grew disillusioned altogether.

I’m fully aware of how bad times are financially but just how bad are they for you to have sold out so much that you’ll willingly choose to ignore what’s unfolding in front of you simply so you can afford another pair of Jimmy Choo pumps and pad your LinkedIn account? How much longer before freelance writers do your job better than you?

It’s 2:15 a.m. and the entire weekend’s events have weighed so heavy on me that for the first time ever I’m struggling to sleep, and I had to speak on this. I apologize for this not being about the Phillies-Sox series or tonight’s WWE PPV match, but there really are bigger things in life than sports.

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