By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) Ideally, it would be wearing a different logo for a team whose name I didn’t promise to no longer type. But I cannot begrudge and have never begrudged any of the players in Washington for just so happening to have Daniel Snyder sign their paychecks.
Or it would be like I’ve consumed football in the past. Appreciating a really good wide receiver doing really good wide receiver things without being stained for the rest of his career with skepticism from current and potential employers and every doctorate in sociology on the Pro Football Talk message board. Without having to even hear the awful assumption that a guy is guilty by urban black association. The Philadelphia Eagles have yet to say they parted ways with a player because of sketchy questions about that player’s past, but they have not come out and said that is not the reason either.
So I want DeSean Jackson and his new contract with Washington to stick this unfair charge right in this pigheaded league’s face. I want 8,000 receiving yards and 50 touchdowns. I want him to give the finger to every team that was spooked by a flimsy story about a black guy with connections to possibly unsavory black people. Then throw all fans’ passive prejudice right back in their faces and make them really uncomfortable by watching him smoke their favorite team or at least dominate the highlight shows so that they can mumble “Thug” to themselves with an extra touch of saltiness.
I hope he short circuits the robotic spawn of Alex P. Keaton and Joseph Goebbels’ dog over at Breitbart Sports — a place where it’s like someone thought, “Hey, let’s take the genius and rationality of an Internet media comments section and make it the site itself!” I hope he continues to remind everyone that this guy is a functional idiot.
And it would be cool if he did it all strictly via hard work, big stats and helping his team win games, but I would not fault a guy for overly taking pleasure in his work and his audience’s reckoning. Especially when his situation is a product of some sad institutionalized social issues from which sports is supposed to be a respite.
I need him to hurdle all this toxic speculation born of a garbage piece of writing that takes loose ties, mentions friends of friends and more than once debunks itself, never concludes concretely what it suggests, then mixes it all with an audience’s assumed fears and prejudices and walks away from the created stupidstorm of buttheads feeling justified in their distrust of “urban” people. An article that bypasses talking to anyone that actually knows Jackson, like former teachers maybe, takes non-incriminating police officer statements and puts them in context of supposed gang members and strokes the hair of people who think that anyone who flashes a gang sign (that they don’t even know is a gang sign until someone explains it to them) must be in a gang. Just like everyone who flashes a peace sign works for peace and everyone who puts up their index and pinky fingers while listening to rock music worships Satan.
We all need Jackson to stick it in a lot of craws. Whether we are somewhere between unaware of our own prejudices to blatantly racist or whether we are in a “blue period” with our worldviews. Whether we have actually read about gang infrastructure and studied the rhetoric of racial language in this country or just heard a haircut on TV talk about the dangers of rap music.
“A lot of guys when they get into the league, they aren’t actually throwing up gang signs as if they’re still active gang members, or were ever gang members,” Marcellus Wiley said in 2008 when the NFL finally decided to attack this plague on the game that people weren’t aware of in the first place. “But it’s just like Reggie Bush wearing (the area code) 619 under his eyes. It’s just kind of to symbolize where you came from.”
Apparently DeSean Jackson managed to slip through the league’s PR-conscious clutches, though, because like Derrick Rose he is obviously a gang banger or at least condones gang violence because in photographs he has formed his fingers in a way. TV has totally given us an accurate picture of what it’s like growing up in an area with street gangs, a pretty cut and dry group, so every suburban neighborhood watch member is well versed in diagnosing a menace such as Jackson.
They care not to listen to someone like Richard Sherman who grew up with Jackson and explains quite well his situation and takes to task the ignorant narrative. Sherman bothers a lot of people who like their sports takes piping hot, though.
Oh, and Sherman also brought up the Philadelphia Eagles parting ways with Jackson but throwing money at a white guy who said the N-word while knowing he was being taped. But that story had a happy ending because his black teammates told the press they welcomed Riley Cooper back. Just like real life. Real life where good people who make an isolated mistake get forgiven and bad people without criminal records are assumed to be in gangs.
Well, I’m rooting for the bad guy.
You can follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe.