On Inauguration Day, HBO aired a new edition of Real Sports, the first for 2009 and its 14th season of its Emmy Award-winning sports news magazine.
In this edition, there were three new stories and one update from 2006. Let’s look at the segments.
Segment #1 – Guns & The NFL
This story is on the debate over NFL players who carry guns. Bernard Goldberg looks into the story.
We start with Bernard talking with former defensive end Marcellus Wiley who grew up in the violent streets of South Central Los Angeles. Wiley says he saw people getting shot. He saw people shoot others and he saw people who were killed after getting shot. Wiley says not even the football field was safe. He says in 9th grade, shots were fired at the football field from a building across the street. Wiley said he had to hit the deck to avoid getting shot.
Wiley says he never touched a gun during that time. He never looked at a gun and didn’t buy one until he joined the National Football League. But Wiley says eight seconds after he was drafted into the NFL, he bought one.
This is not uncommon in the National Football League. Players feel invincible on the field, but once they leave the sanctity of the stadium, they feel they’re huge targets. Daunte Robinson of the Houston Texans did not have a gun until his home was invaded which was situated in a gated community. The invaders stuck a gun in his face, right in front of his two children, then tied him up with duct tape and robbed him.
New York Giants receiver Steve Smith was held up at gunpoint outside his New Jersey home which was also in a gated community.
Richard Collier of the Jacksonville Jaguars lost his leg after he was shot 14 times and is paralyzed.
But the two incidents that hit closest to home for NFL players were the senseless murders of two young players. First it was the drive-by shooting of Derek Williams of the Denver Broncos outside a nightclub. Then the killing of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor in his Miami home really caused players to think about protecting themselves.
Marcellus Wiley says he now knows he’s a target. He went from having zero in his bank account to having two commas and several zeroes. Wiley says being a millionaire made him a big target in the eyes of some people. And it also stems from where he came from. Compton in South Central Los Angeles. Wiley says many players came from rough neighborhoods and it’s there where they become marked men because people know how much money they make. It’s for that reason why many of them have gravitated to guns.
And his African American friends come from New Orleans, Southeast DC, places Wiley calls “murder capitals”. And he says his white friends come from places like Palo Alto, affluent neighborhoods. Wiley says his Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are spent in the murder capitals and that is what he has to deal with.
Adewale Ogunleye of the Chicago Bears says you have to be crazy to think that you’re not a target. Ogunleye lives in South Florida in the offseason, not far from where Sean Taylor was murdered. He believes Taylor might be alive today had he had a gun and not a machete. Ogunleye says players around the league talk about incidents like Taylor and are careful. Even when encountering a fan with the best intentions, players feel they still have to be on the alert in case someone is looking at them in a negative light.
It’s for that reason why Ogunleye owns a gun and keeps it in his house. Ogunleye bought that weapon from a former teammate on the Miami Dolphins, Jay Williams. He tells Bernard that he doesn’t go anywhere without a gun. Williams played in the NFL for ten years and since his retirement, he’s become a seller of guns. When he retired, Williams sent out a mass mailing to players letting them know he was in the gun business and said he knew what they were going through and would help to keep them safe.
There are no hard statistics on the number of NFL players who owns guns, but Williams says it’s a lot. He thinks the numbers are close to 85% of all NFL players who own a weapon. The NFL tells its players that any handguns must be registered and cannot be anywhere near a league facility. But Williams said he brought a gun to practice every day against the rules. He says when he leaves practice, he’s in the real world and if he stops for gas, goes to the store or just gets out of his car for anything, he’s going to have his gun on him.
Williams says the fear factor for athletes is not crazy paranoia, it’s for real. He says criminals want to get near the athletes for their money and possessions. But Bernard argues that anyone in society can make that argument. Williams counters that the criminal element sees NFL players as the alpha males in the trenches playing a physical sport who make a lot of money, so the element wants to go after them and take what they have.
While the player may feel safer, in reality, he may not be. Marcellus Wiley was asked if someone comes up to him pointing a gun, would he pull out his gun? Wiley replied that once a gun is at your head, it’s too late, but players don’t like the element of surprise. They like to see the play materialize in front of them and then take action. Adewale Ogunleye he understands by having two people with a gun in a confrontation, things could go horribly wrong, but he says having a gun at least gives him a chance of survival.
And sometimes owning a gun puts the player in more danger than any potential assailant. Witness what happened to Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress who shot himself in the leg at a New York City nightclub last fall. That gun was never registered. Because of that, Burress faces a potential prison sentence. Williams says that incident gave players who carry guns legally a bad name because it was obvious to him that Burress was not mature enough to handle a gun.
The incident made Wiley think that it could have happened to him. That the gun could have slipped from its holster and cause it to go off. Like most players, Wiley carried his weapon for peace of mind. But it snowballed from peace of mind to paranoia. He says the gun changed his perspective and what he saw. Instead of seeing a person who wants directions, Wiley was wondering if the person was a carjacker. And when he went to clubs, he would see people staring at him possibly looking for an autograph as people who would want to rob him.
But then Wiley began to ask questions that many players may not. Would he be ready to pull a gun if confronted? Could he handle a potential attempted murder charge? Could he handle a murder charge? Even if he pulled the gun and didn’t use it, could he handle the legal ramifications? Could he handle if he pulled the gun on the streets, the person he pointed the gun at was coming back? So when he was with the Buffalo Bills, Wiley decided he no longer wanted to own a gun. As he was driving near Niagra Falls, he felt something bad was going to happen the longer he held possession of the weapon. So he threw the gun into the falls and Wiley says he felt a 270 pound gorilla lift off his shoulders. But even with his revelation, Wiley feels the trend is more guns in the NFL. Mostly because of the Sean Taylor incident and because players are making more money and getting more attention.
While there’s a war mentality on the field, there’s one off the field as well. Jay Williams says it’s down to who has the biggest advantage, the criminal or him? If the criminal has the gun, he has the advantage, but with Williams and his training, he feels he has the advantage.
In the transition, Bryant and Bernard had a lengthy discussion on guns. Bryant asked Bernard if there was any evidence of players being attacked and Bernard replied you don’t hear about NHL or baseball players feeling this type of pressure. Perhaps some NBA players do, but it’s mostly with the NFL.
Bryant wants to know if this is an NFL athlete problem or a black athlete problem. Bernard says it’s an economic problem and players come from murder capitals. And in those neighborhoods, guns are a normal part of life.
Bryant says the athletes are rich enough to hire bodyguards so why not use them? Bernard says if they do that, the prevalent feeling is that the players are not taking care of their own problems and they’re a punk.
Crazy story. But as Wiley says, the trend is more guns. Grade – A+. Very disturbing.
Segment #2 – Miracle Man
In a Sports Illustrated/Real Sports story and reported by Jon Frankel, this is a profile of NBC Sports broadcaster Al Michaels. He has called many of the greatest sporting events in history from Super Bowl XXV in which Buffalo Bills kicker Scott Norwood missed a game winning field goal, to being the man to chronicle the 1989 San Francisco Earthquake interrupting the Bay Area World Series to the event he’s most known for, the 1980 Miracle on Ice where the USA hockey team upset the Soviet Union in the Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, NY. He was also the voice of Monday Night Football for 19 years on ABC before moving to NBC to call Sunday Night Football where he’s been since 2006.
Al said since he was a kid, he loved going to the games and he thought wouldn’t it be great to get a job where he could get in for free? Well, he has that job and at age 64 (!), he’s still going strong. He’s getting ready to call his 7th Super Bowl and 1st for NBC. He’s been a constant in an industry that thrives on chaos, Michaels wants to simply get the story right. It’s a quality that led NBC Sports Emperor Dick Ebersol to hire Al. Dick says Al is the best play-by-play man, bar none.
Ebersol says Al knows the rules so well, he could referee a game (I would not go so far to say that, but Al does have tremendous knowledge of the rules). In days leading up to a game, Michaels meets with the players and coaches from both teams to go over injuries and possible storylines, anything he could possibly use on the air.
In the booth, Al has spotters and statisticians in the booth, a producer and director talking to him in his headset, and standing next to him is his partner, John Madden. Al is basically the conductor trying to make beautiful music. For his part, Madden says no matter where he goes, Al is there to bring him back to the game and he’s comfortable working with him.
As a kid growing up in Brooklyn, NY, Al practiced calling his favorite teams, the Dodgers and the New York Football Giants. While going to college at Arizona State, Al was the sports editor for the school newspaper and called baseball and football games on the campus radio station. Upon graduation, Al tried to get a play-by-play job, but was rejected by every Minor League Baseball team. One local TV station in Hawai’i gave him a shot.
Al said over the next three years, if it was moving, he was calling it. He did minor league baseball, University of Hawai’i football, high school football sometimes doing as many as six high school games a weekend.
But in 1971, the Cincinnati Reds called him to try out as their announcer and he got in at the right time. Just as the Reds were becoming The Big Red Machine, Al says he got his Ph.D. in baseball watching Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, manager Sparky Anderson, and Joe Morgan all come into their prime. In 1972, Al joined NBC’s coverage of the World Series, sitting next to Curt Gowdy and Tony Kubek.
Then ABC Sports came a’calling. But he didn’t get to call the traditional sports right away. He joined ABC’s Wide World of Sports and got to call motorcycle racing on ice, the World Wrist Wrestling Championships, the high diving championships, and plenty of events that ABC sent him to.
But it was in 1980 at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid where Al really got his big break and put himself on the map. He was tapped to call ice hockey and only got the assignment because he had an advantage over the other ABC announcers. Al had called one hockey game at the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan for NBC. Al said because Keith Jackson, Frank Gifford, and Howard Cosell had never called a hockey game and he had done one game, he got the assignment. Al said it was pure dumb luck. Al said if he didn’t have that one game under his belt, would he get that hockey assignment? No, he would be calling biathlon and there were no miracles on the biathlon course that year.
And Al says when the puck goes out to center ice with the clock counting down in the USA-USSR semifinal game in 1980, it gives him the chance to come up with his famous line. Al first thinks the 4-3 upset is miraculous, he then turns it into a question, “Do you believe in miracles? YES!” Al says he still thinks to this day, “What if he had just counted the clock down?”
It was from that line that Al had arrived and he went on to have an illustrious career. He then found himself at the crown jewel of ABC Sports, Monday Night Football.
But nothing prepared him for what happened in October 1989 just before the Game 3 of the World Series, the San Francisco Earthquake. It happened just as Tim McCarver was voicing over some taped highlights and Al knew right off that it was an earthquake, saying so right as ABC was knocked off the air. For that night, Al worked with the news division and won a News Emmy for his reporting having knowledge of San Francisco from his days with the baseball Giants in the mid-1970′s.
It was that grace under pressure that led to a 30 year career at ABC, but that came to an end when Monday Night Football moved to ESPN. Al moved to NBC in exchange for ESPN obtaining the rights to Oswald the Rabbit to call Sunday Night Football.
It wasn’t an easy move because Al is a creature of habit. You see, Al has lived in the same Los Angeles home for 23 years, married to his wife, Linda for more than 40. When Al goes out on the road, Linda goes too. She sits in the booth and listens to the broadcast.
Al is just as much as a celebrity as the athletes he covers, often riding limos to games and getting recognized by fans.
Al also likes to have fun by getting around an NFL taboo, mentioning the betting lines in an offhand way, either by a pun or just saying something about the over-under line. Al says he doesn’t bet on games because it’s in his contract and also that he knows more about the game because of the access he has. However, he says there’s a lot he doesn’t know. But Al says the NFL would not sponsor a law banning gambling because they know of the interest in the game through gambling.
While he gets ready to call the game that has the most bets placed, Al’s personal gamble to move to NBC has already paid off. Sunday Night Football received some of its highest ratings this season. Al says he has no plans to leave and when he does, John Madden says he won’t work with another partner. John says when Al leaves, he leaves.
Al says he’s been often in the right place at the right time and he continues to have fun at what he does.
In the transition, Bryant and Jon talk about Al. Bryant asks if Al feels the Miracle on Ice is the defining moment in his career. Jon says for a guy who does not have a catchphrase, he understands that his call added to that moment and history of the game.
Bryant mentions that Al is generally known as one of the good guys in the business, but also walked out of his deal at ESPN and was never tainted by it. Jon replies that the Michaels-Madden team was seen as a good one and the goodwill Al has generated over the years went a long way. Jon then went into the Al-for-Oswald the Rabbit trade.
Bryant asks if Al and John socialize outside the booth and Jon says they do have dinner, but Madden points out that Al never eats vegetables, a well-known story in the business.
Then Bryant points out that Al only works half the year for NBC, what does he do for the other half? Jon says he spends the time with his grandchildren, watches his stocks and the Weather Channel. Then Bryant says, “He plays bad golf.” Ok.
Grade for this segment – A. Al definitely gives good interview.
Segment #3 – Disunity
In this segment reported by Frank Deford, we look at the growing divide between the NFL Players Association and its retired players. We go back to Super Bowl XV which should have been the greatest moment in Dave Pear’s life. In 1980, Pear won a Super Bowl ring with the Oakland Raiders, but now, he can’t bring himself to watch a tape of that game. Pear says that game brings up a lot of unpleasant times. What is Pear talking about? Pear played that game with a broken neck and had seven spinal surgeries since. In addition, Dave says he is in constant, excruciating pain.
Dave is also bitter over the 25 years of the NFLPA denying him disability benefits. It forced his wife to work two jobs to help make ends meet. But six years ago, Pear received a letter from the union which he hoped would help. The NFLPA wrote him asking him to join a program that would sell retired players’ names and images to companies. Pear says he thought it was an opportunity for the retired players to make some money.
But then he was told the players were not going to make this money, it was going to be withheld. Pear says he thought he was swindled. Dave said he thought he would be paid a fair share. He says the NFL told him he was family and he was until it was time to split the money up. Pear says when it was time to split the money up, the retired players were shut out.
This has been an ongoing battle between the NFLPA and the retired players. It first started over disability benefits and what the retired players thought they deserved. Now, it’s over the images and likenesses of retired players that have been used in video games and other products which they say have made money, but have been shut out from by the NFLPA.
Former players Herb Adderley, Bruce Laird and Joe DeLamielleure say they were all encouraged by the NFLPA to sign something called “Group Licensing Agreements” or GLA’s. They’re used by the union to license large groups of NFL players, usually the entire league, to companies for use in apparel, trading cards, and most lucratively, video games. The players signed the GLA’s thinking they would get a fair share of the $80 million that have been made from these products. The retired players felt they would get a fair share because the GLA states if and when six or more players are used, everyone would get paid. It didn’t matter what combination, it could be three retired players and three active players, as long as six were used, everyone would get paid.
Jeffrey Kessler, a lawyer for the NFLPA, says no matter what the retired players thought, the union always meant to have two separate GLA programs, one for current players and one for retired players. And since only current players are being used in video games and other products, they’re the ones who got paid. The union said it tried to market the retired players, but because superstars like Bart Starr or Joe Montana refused to sign the GLA, companies were not interested in a group of relatively unknown retirees. Kessler says letters were sent to Starr and Montana saying if they didn’t sign, they would be hurting the other retired players and Kessler adds that the NFLPA tried to get them to take part so everyone could benefit.
But Adderley says the union hardly did anything to market the retired players. Adderley says it wasn’t that they considered the retired players unmarketable, it was because the union considered them worthless. Adderley points to a quote from the late NFLPA Executive Director Gene Upshaw who was once a Hall of Fame player with the Raiders, and started the GLA program in 1994. Upshaw played with Dave Pear and against Herb Adderley. Upshaw was asked about marketing the retired players and Upshaw said, “We could have the greatest dog food in the world but if the dogs don’t like it, we can’t sell it.” Nice. Real nice.
Adderley said Upshaw forgot where he came from and it proved to him that Upshaw didn’t care about the retired players. Laird says the union made it sound like the NFLPA needed them, they solicited the retired players over and over again. And Laird said they believed the union because they trusted the union.
It wasn’t just Pear, Adderley, DeLamielleure and Laird who listened. More than 2,000 retired players signed the GLA thinking they were going to be paid from the licensing of their images. After a decade of receiving nothing, not even a dime, the retired players hired attorneys Peter Parcher and Chad Hummel to ask the union to do what it should have done all along, look after their best interests.
Hummel says the NFLPA exploited the players by having them sign the GLA’s then did nothing in return. Hummel says there were opportunities to market the retired players and provide some much needed revenue. Last November, the 2,000 players sued their own union in federal court accusing the NFLPA of intentionally shutting them out of its biggest licensing deal.
That’s with EA Sports which makes the popular Madden NFL video game. EA pays the union $25 million for the right to use players in its game. Players of Madden can not only use current and active athletes, but those from vintage teams like the 1970 Minnesota Vikings that have gone to a Super Bowl or even teams from the 1950′s that have numerous Hall of Famers on their rosters.
When Adderley calls up his position on the 1967 Packers or 1971 Cowboys, the Madden game doesn’t show his face or even the correct jersey number, but it does have his correct weight, height and even the correct number of years that he played in the NFL! But the union says that’s not Adderley since the player shown does not have his likeness. Adderley says the union did not want to pay him for using him in the Madden game so to get around that, they put a generic face and different number.
The retired players uncovered a smoking gun from an NFLPA lawyer to EA Sports stating “For all retired players that are not listed … their identity must be altered so that it cannot be recognized.” Adderley says EA Sports did this at the union’s suggestion so the company would not have to pay him for his likeness. Adderley says it was heartbreaking to find this out. He says he felt stabbed in the back especially for all the players who are scrambled in the Madden game.
In the Madden ’07 game, nearly 600 retired players had their images scrambled including Pear, former Giants quarterback Phil Simms and former Eagles and Vikings QB Randall Cunningham.
But union lawyer Jeffrey Kessler says they weren’t trying to avoid paying them, but actually protect the retired players rights! Kessler says EA was paying for a small handful of retirees who they made deals with, but not for anyone else.
However, the retired players say when EA deal paid any retired player, it was much smaller than what he could have received. In 2006, the union negotiated a different deal with EA that was exposed in e-mails during the trial.
Union executives crow about the amount EA paid to the players, $400 thousand per year “significantly below market rate” according to one e-mail which could have been more than $1 million “without the union’s involvement”.
NFLPA snake Kessler says there’s no evidence that the deal was below market value. However, retired players’ attorneys Parcher and Hummel say it was not the lawyer’s job to make a deal, it was his job to protect the players.
For his part, Kessler says the union tried everything it could to protect the retired players. But a federal jury did not agree. On November 10 after hearing three weeks of testimony, it found the NFLPA guilty of breach of contract and breach of feduciary duty. The retired players were awarded $28.1 million. But when divided evenly among the 2,000 players, it works out to an amount of about $10,000 apiece after legal fees. It won’t make the players rich.
But Dave Pear says that’s not the point. He says it’s about the union treating the retired players fairly and making the NFLPA live up to its bargain.
The union is appealing the award and hopefully, we’ll hear an update about this soon.
Bryant and Frank are definitely siding with the retired players on this issue. During the transition, Bryant asks why does the union cut out retirees? Frank says it’s like mistreating orphans and widows. Frank points out the union makes money from the current players and not the veterans. The union makes 63% from every dollar made on licensed products. And Frank cannot understand why the current players go along with the union’s stance to cut out the retired players.
Bryant wants to know if the retired players feel the NFLPA will be nicer to them now that Gene Upshaw has passed away. Frank says the veterans have been disappointed for so long that they’re relunctant to get excited. But they’re hopeful there’s a change in attitude with a change in leadership.
Bryant asks if the veterans will continue on as enemies with the NFLPA or friends? Frank says the jury decision was a big victory for the retirees and it gives them more confidence to speak out and gives them confidence that whomever comes in will realize what a big loss in court this was for the union and to treat the veterans much nicer.
Overall grade – A+. Grade to the NFLPA for stabbing the retired players in the back – F.
An update from a story done in 2006, Frank Deford is back to tell us what has gone on since the original airing.
We begin with former Washington Redskins player Brandon Noble who described his condition as a staph infection that got into his body and progressively got worse. Noble played in the NFL for seven seasons. He knew how to deal with pain, but nothing prepared him after he had knee surgery some three years ago. Noble says he had fever, chills, a really deep sick feeling. Luckily for Noble, his mother-in-law was a nurse and told his wife to get him to a hospital immediately.
Doctors found that Noble was suffering from a mysterious skin infection called MRSA. It stands for (and thank goodness I have the press release to write this) methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. This was not just a regular staph infection, this was a strain that was resistant to most antibiotics and potentially life threatening.
Noble says the doctor informed him he had MRSA and was looking at possible death or at least losing his leg. Staph infections are common among athletes who get skin cuts and abrasions where staph germs can easily get in.
Minor staph infections are tough enough to treat and both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady suffered from them. MRSA is what can be called a Super Staph. A mutation from ordinary staph bacteria to one that can resist even the most powerful drugs. MRSA was once found only in hospitals, but it began showing up all over the NFL.
Dr. Matthew Matava says some players needed surgical drainage of MRSA infections. He says a regular staph infection would show as a reddened area on the skin. But MRSA can show up as a boil as big as a golf ball. Dr. Matava is the head physican for the St. Louis Rams. In 2003, he saw five players on the team develop staph infections. The usual drugs that normally cured staph did not work. Fearing that the infections could spread, Dr. Mutava and the Rams invited the National Centers for Disease Control to study the field turf in the Rams home stadium.
Jeff Hageman of the CDC identified MRSA as the culprit of the Rams’ staph infection. And St. Louis was not alone. There were over 70 MRSA infections in the NFL in 2006. In addition to Noble on the Redskins, four of his teammates were infected. The Houston Texans, Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers all suffered multiple infections.
Hageman says the football environment lends itself to multiple outbreaks because of the close quarters and there’s a lot of skin contact. Hageman says MRSA can start off as a simple boil or a puss-filled lesion, then staph could get into the bloodstream and cause high fever, get into different organs and in extreme cases, lead to death.
Andrew McCollum was a lineman with the Rams when he developed MRSA in 2006. The CDC recommended the Rams do a better job in cleaning the open wounds. However, MRSA can flourish outside game conditions. In fact, the CDC saw players sitting on a bench and wipe open wounds with a towel that was potentially infected with the MRSA strain.
And the locker room is where MRSA can thrive where sweaty players go into the whirlpool without showering despite signs warning players to do so. And the CDC says the whirlpool could spread MRSA if the bacteria got in there.
If MRSA could spread in an NFL facility, it could surely be spread in a high school or college football locker room. And if that is the case, then it could lead to disastrous results.
Back in 2003, Ricky Lanetti was a star receiver for Division III Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA. But the night before a big game during his senior year, he called his mother, Theresa Drew, in a panic. She said when she got to his dorm room, Ricky could not walk and was vomiting. Soon after he went to the Emergency Room, he was admitted to intensive care. Doctors could not determine was making Ricky’s body shut down. That night, Ricky died leaving his mother and teammates devastated. When she was told Ricky contract MRSA, she had no idea what it was. Had Ricky been administered some antibiotics early on, he might have survived.
For Brandon Noble, an intense antibiotic treatment saved his life, and he got ready to play again, but he hurt his knee and noticed something familiar on his skin. He got the same burning, sickening feeling. The doctor at Redskin Park diagnosed his condition as MRSA and this time when he went to the hospital, he went into isolation. The problem was that Noble had no idea where he contracted MRSA the first or second time. While he was recovering from his second knee surgery, Noble got blood clots in both lungs and realized his playing career was over. Noble says of all the things he went through to play football, it was just one small thing to stop him.
Over the last three years, the NFL has taken an aggressive approach to the problem. Teams are now educating their players on keeping clean, like washing hands, not sharing personal items, and doing an extensive program to remind players about the strain. However, MRSA continues to infect players. There have been 33 documented cases of MRSA since 2006.
The Redskins have spent $300,000 improving their facilities, spraying equipment with anti-staph disinfectant, installing jacuzzis with high-tech filters and giving players individual towels and stools. However, since their multiple outbreak, the Redskins have had one MRSA infection and the Rams after the CDC’s visit, still had to two infections.
Noble says since his infections, he washes his hands more and has become a germophobe. He still is connected to football, coaching at West Chester University in Pennsylvannia. He is more cautious than ever thanks to his own family. Brandon says when his kids get cuts, they’re quick to clean them and go to the doctor to treat them. He says while he was tough as player, MRSA was the most painful thing he had to deal with and he doesn’t want his children to go through that.
Bryant points out that the NFL recently hired an infectious disease expert to visit teams and to monitor efforts in preventing MRSA. A study will be presented to the NFL next month.
Another A for this segment. One of the strongest shows for Real Sports.
Final Segment – Bryant’s commentary
“Finally tonight, a few words about change we’d like to believe in. Today’s inauguration of Barack Obama has all Americans excited including those in sports who understandably view the new President as one of their own.
“The fact that Obama plays basketball, often wears a White Sox cap and has expressed his opinion about a college football playoff has left many sports enthusiasts thinking they have a friend in the Oval Office and that’s a good thing.
“But aside from the obvious, I’m hoping the President’s influence is felt in ways that have more lasting impact. Here’s hoping the fact that Obama has made smart the new cool is not lost on young athletes who long thought it wasn’t. Here’s hoping the manner in which he values his wife and two daughters registers with those jocks who think it’s hip to objectify women or ignore the babies they’ve fathered.
“Here’s hoping his quiet dignity registers. That inclusiveness he calls for doesn’t fall on deaf ears and that the pride he takes in his manner of speech influences those who have long opted for street cred.
“If that all seems Pollyanna-ish and old fashioned, then so be it. It’s time to stop urging young athletes to be like Mike. Here’s hoping instead, they have the courage to be like Barack.”
I like this commentary. I’ll give him an A minus.
Overall grade – A. Excellent program.