In the wake of the trade of Brandon Boykin to Pittsburgh, by now, we’ve all heard the statement from Boykin. His words of “He’s (referring to Eagles HC Chip Kelly) not comfortable around grown men of our culture” are racist, just on their own merit. But, nobody is parsing that as racism on Boykin’s part. Why would they? Boykin is a man of color, and automatically, when an individual of any color asserts racism towards an individual of no color, then, we all assume it must be true. That, in and of itself, is just lazy, on all of our parts.
Kelly traded LeSean McCoy to Buffalo, and McCoy labeled Kelly a racist. Kelly outright released Desean Jackson, and Jackson labeled Kelly a racist. Tra Thomas was not retained as a coach for the team, and Thomas labels Kelly a racist. Yes, all of those men are men of color. But where, in this day and age, does it say that just because a player is making millions of dollars, that individual cannot be traded or released? Like it or not, every player is a commodity, of sorts, and once their usefulness is complete, or, once there is a perceived value to gain, that commodity is traded or released. That seems like a plain and simple transaction. We see it in the NFL every day.
I know what some of you are about to say: But what about Kelly choosing to retain Riley Cooper, after what he said was caught on tape? Yes, Cooper’s remarks are reprehensible, on every level. And, for a man of color, Michael Vick, to be the first one to embrace Cooper after the incident, said a lot to me. Now, I don’t condone any of Vick’s other off-field issues, in any way. But, for him to be the bridge in that locker room, and help Cooper mend relationships amongst his teammates, that says a lot for him.
The word “racism” is used to make people frightened. I’m not naïve enough to say that it doesn’t go on in today’s world, but, take a look at our country recently. In Missouri, riots go on after a man of color is shot by a white policeman. The news was right there, to tell us all, that the city police are all racists, and we all watched, while the city burned, and the news ratings went through the roof. In Baltimore, a man of color dies in the custody of the Baltimore City PD. Again, the news shows up, and tells us all that the police are all racists, and the city burns. A white man walks into a church in South Carolina, and kills nine people, all of whom, are black. The news shows up, and tells us all that it’s the fault of the Confederate Flag, that it’s the fault of the Klu Klux Klan, and that it’s the fault of racism that’s still pervasive in the South. And we watched……..while the city of Charleston prayed. Every man, woman, and child, regardless of race, all joined hands, and they prayed. No riots, equal no story. The news companies left town. No ratings to be had.
But, on the eve of Training Camp, to keep this story going, and to provide the team with a daunting distraction, Jason Whitlock, of ESPN, writes a story that stokes the fires of racism. Whitlock, who is black, goes on in his piece to say that Kelly’s staff has men of color on it, but not one is in any sort of position of authority. He goes on to say that it is inexcusable in 2015 to construct a coaching staff that is devoid of any diversity, then covers his back side by ending the piece by noting that he has not gone on record, completely, your Honor, and flat out called Kelly a racist. That, of course, would be tantamount to libel. He throws some blame at team owner Jeffrey Lurie, saying it is irresponsible to allow the coach to construct a staff this way. Well, the last time I checked, Lurie writes the checks, and if this is how he wants things done, this is how they’re going to be done, regardless of what the climate is in today’s social world.
I get it that the three players mentioned before might be a little upset, being traded or released. Trading McCoy allowed the team to get three players in return (Kiko Alonso, DeMarco Murray, Ryan Matthews), and still save some money. Cutting Jackson, who, it should be noted, has had his share of run-ins, with his college coach, Jeff Tedford, and with Andy Reid, basically sent a message to the team. It was Kelly’s team. And cutting Boykin allows the Eagles to take a look at their new FA’s and draftees at that position. I get they all might be a little upset. And, truth be told, Jackson is one of my favorite NFL players. But, because they are all men of color, for them to assert racism……..is it really that, or, is it something else? If Kelly were truly a racist, would Dennis Dixon have gone to Oregon to play for him? Dixon was a collegiate star under Kelly at Oregon, leading them to a final #2 ranking. Would DeMarco Murray have chosen to sign here if Kelly were a racist? Would Byron Maxwell have left the comfort of Seattle for Philadelphia? Chances are……an all accounts…..probably not. There’s much more to all of these player moves than meets the eye. Labeling it as a racist move is just irresponsible journalism.