Tonight is the much anticipated NFC East match up between long-time NFL rivals the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins that will decide which of the two teams wins an automatic spot into this year’s NFL playoffs.
The game has become nationalized, primarily over buzz and excitement generated from Heisman trophy winner and Redskins Rookie quarterback Robert Griffin, III or RGIII. Already, within a year of this dynamo’s entry into the NFL, RGIII’s one year jersey sales have surpassed the record for all other jerseys as far back as the organization has kept track, 6 years.
RGIII’s lure partly has to do with the fact he is a team player, is humble and plays extremely well. He played 14 times this season and 7 times he was named NFL Offensive player of the week and was the Offensive Rookie of the month September thru November. And of course, it doesn’t hurt that he is also articulate and thoughtful in his responses during post-game press meetings. He is that All-American guy next door that you want to root for even if he plays for a team not your own. He is the next generation John Elway of the Denver Broncos in the 1990s or Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins of the 1980s.
But not all people like or respect the good guy and two Thursdays ago ESPN commentator Rob Parker thought he’d step up and represent that constituency.
During an airing of Comcast’s SportsNet Special, Parker called RGIII a “cornball brother”, stating: “OK, he’s black, he kind of does the thing, but he’s not really down with the cause. He’s not one of us. He’s kind of black, but he’s not really, like, the guy you want to hang out with because he’s off to something else. … We all know he has a white fiancee. Then there was all this talk about him being a Republican.”
Well duh! To be an NFL player, everyone knows you have to be inarticulate, the product of a single family household, the first in your family to have attended college, to be gruff and hyper aggressive, mediocre student, who bounces from woman to woman.
Griffin on the other hand ranked 7th in his class, was elected class president and graduated a semester early. He started college at age 17 and went on graduate from Baylor University with a 3.67 GPA with two Dean’s list appearances. He comes form a two parent military family and didn’t bed hop, but stayed true to his same girlfriend since college.
And on his vernacular, he speaks well.
And here we were thinking Black Americans despised being stereotyped and pigeonholed into certain categories for the convenience of closed-mined people.
Many educators, cultural anthropologists, social workers and linguists have been working for years to tear down the stigma among urban youth that speaking properly and excelling are synonymous with being White.
And while statistically, the demographics of the background of the average black professional football player reveal that RGIII does stand out and is different, he is not an anomaly at all.
There are hundreds of thousands of high achieving black kids, some raised in single parent-headed households, but many in duo-parent families, that speak well, do well and excel. They are being raised to have the best work ethic and to be the best at whatever they elect to do. They have to be better than all in their field as many know, they are often held to a higher standard and sometimes given a shorter rope to hang themselves with so…
RGIII put it best himself when reporters ask him about being an outstanding black quarterback:
“I don’t play too much into the color game, because I don’t want to be the best African-American quarterback, I want to be the best quarterback.”
Parker apologized later, and was suspended for 30 days for his commentary, but his type of thinking persists beyond that, unfortunately.