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Thread: Byron Leftwich has faced some racial ugliness

  1. #1
    Racism Dead? Nah, Just Wait For The Bleep
    by Mike Freeman (Off the BlackAthlete Sports Wire),
    published on Oct 8, 2004





    Byron Leftwich
    JACKSONVILLE, FLA.---The Cro-Magnon fan on Line 1 was deadly serious. He had called in to one of the Jacksonville radio talk shows here and complained that James Harris, the black general manager of the Jaguars and former pioneering NFL quarterback, had kept too many black throwers on the roster. The Jaguars are believed to be the first team in league history to have all of its quarterback positions filled by blacks.
    Harris was doing it, the man said, because he was attempting to atone for all of the discrimination Harris himself faced as a professional quarterback during his playing career.

    Three white quarterbacks on the roster? No problem.

    Three black men? It's a conspiracy. It's a plot to keep the white man down. It's the Manchurian Quarterback.

    Lovely.

    One of those affirmative action throwers, Byron Leftwich, has faced some racial ugliness since becoming the starter. I receive several anonymous racially-charged phone messages a month from a handful of fans and readers who believe they can get a discount by knocking two blacks with one call: they first blast me with racist language, then move on to Leftwich.

    One caller referred to Leftwich as a "dumb ----" before hanging up. Called me the same. E-mailers and callers have used code words when speaking of Leftwich -- "stupid" and "idiot" and "slow." Anyone who has spent 30 seconds with Leftwich knows how bright he is, but no matter to some.

    One teammate claimed that Leftwich has received several hate-filled letters, something that was disputed by a person close to the quarterback. Leftwich declined to comment and my guess is he would never make a public issue out of any of this because he believes in simply staying focused on quarterbacking the team.

    The people who do these things are in the minority. We know this. I also know that I hear from many fans that support Leftwich (and there are also Leftwich backers on the fan boards). Maybe it is only a few jerks feeling creative with their computer skills and speed dial.

    But the point is not so much how many weirdos are doing this, but why, in this 21st Century, when privately funded rocket ships blast into space, and we think our society has progressed so much, is there even one such e-mail or obnoxious posting on the message boards?

    I don't live in Pleasantville. It is just that maybe we have not progressed as far as we think. Mainly because many black quarterbacks, both now and over the years, from Doug Williams to Donovan McNabb to Daunte Culpepper to Steve McNair, have faced the problem of dealing with racist fans. The attacks may have subsided some, but they are still there, in some ugly form. They won't go away.

    Harris played for three NFL teams from 1969 to 1981 and faced massive discrimination both from the NFL and fans. He has since counseled a number of black throwers, including Leftwich and Culpepper, about the unique challenges a black quarterback faces. His main message to them?

    "Just focus on your job," he said. "Focus on being a quarterback and don't let the other things distract you."

    Black throwers have spoken of the death threats and racist mail for some time. Former Tampa Bay quarterback Doug Williams received death threats after each loss and says he could fill a book with the racist correspondence he got as well. Once, he received a rotten watermelon in the mail with an accompanying racist note.

    In 1988, two days before Syracuse was to play Auburn in the Sugar Bowl, quarterback Don McPherson was sleeping in his hotel room when the phone rang. According to the Los Angeles Times, McPherson said the caller stated, "During the game, ----, you are going to die."

    Former quarterback Warren Moon said he received death threats while a player with the Houston Oilers. But what troubled him the most was an incident that occurred after one game. As Moon sat at his locker, his son reportedly approached him with tears streaming down his face.

    "I thought he was upset we lost the game," Moon said. "But the thing he was most upset about was the names I was being called in the stands."

    Two seasons ago, prior to the AFC Championship game, Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair received hate mail sent via overnight delivery; the mail was reportedly from a Titans fan. McNair said he would not allow any such incident to ever distract him.

    Last year, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper received several racially charged letters a month during the season. Several were so disturbing that they were forwarded to the NFL's security office.

    Mike Tice, the Minnesota coach, told the Saint Paul Pioneer Press that Culpepper's race "is an issue, and I'm disappointed that it's an issue. It's a shame that that has to come into play, when you have a young man of Daunte's character."

    Jon Entine, who is white, and author of the book, Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We Are Afraid to Talk About It, told the newspaper: "Anyone who says we see athletes as just athletes is very naive. I don't think we'll ever grow past this. I just never heard anyone say, 'Cade McNown is a bad white quarterback.' But they somehow always attack the blackness of an African-American quarterback who is struggling in the same way.''

    This past spring, when Leftwich was named the grand marshal of the Pepsi 400, a caller left a message on my voice mail that went like this: "Now you people want to take over NASCAR." Other unpleasantries followed.

    At first, it sounded like a threat, and I considered calling the Jaguars, then I realized it was just a racist blowhard.

    Harris is right. The quarterbacks need to ignore these spikes of fan racism and focus on their jobs.

    I just wonder if the ugliness will ever completely go away.

  2. #2
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    These people are ignorant dopes-period.Leftwich has been solid. I can't imagine anyone who claims to be a fan of the Titans not loving Steve McNair; same with Culpepper. But every QB in NFL history has been rapped by fans of his team. Seems even a certain number 10 has been ribbed around here lately.

    Freeman lost his job at the NY Times and a chance to become sports editor of a newspaper in the Midwest when it was found he had fudged his college credentials, like George O'Leary and his former colleague Jason Blair. And when he was at the Times, he was always writing these "Americans are racists" stories. In fact, I doubt Freeman really cares about sports per se at all, other than to further that agenda. A story like this might even fuel the egos of the idiots who did these things. Just let them wallow in their cesspools and ignore them.

  3. #3
    [quote][i]Originally posted by Bugg[/i]@Oct 8 2004, 04:42 AM
    [b] These people are ignorant dopes-period.Leftwich has been solid. I can't imagine anyone who claims to be a fan of the Titans not loving Steve McNair; same with Culpepper. But every QB in NFL history has been rapped by fans of his team. Seems even a certain number 10 has been ribbed around here lately.

    Freeman lost his job at the NY Times and a chance to become sports editor of a newspaper in the Midwest when it was found he had fudged his college credentials, like George O'Leary and his former colleague Jason Blair. And when he was at the Times, he was always writing these "Americans are racists" stories. In fact, I doubt Freeman really cares about sports per se at all, other than to further that agenda. A story like this might even fuel the egos of the idiots who did these things. Just let them wallow in their cesspools and ignore them. [/b][/quote]
    Bugg, I agree with you about those (ignorant) people. Pennington get ripped here but it is not because he is white, only because he is a QB.

    I thought that 'Freeman' looked familiar. I was not aware of his 'agenda'. Man you are giving me another research project B)

    I also agree with you on ignoring those people, but sometimes it's difficult realizing that they still exist

  4. #4
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    Obviously, my perspective is that of a 40-year old white guy. I can understand how Angry some cracker using the N word must make any black man feel, but I haven't experienced it. It just seems by publicizing this obnoxious racist misconduct you might be giving these idiots exactly what they want. They're total cowards. If you put them in a room with Culpepper or Mcnair they'd last about 10 seconds.

    The article is right in the sense that it is amazing such people still exist. But there are a lot less of them, you'd hope.

  5. #5
    [quote][i]Originally posted by Bugg[/i]@Oct 8 2004, 05:35 AM
    [b] Obviously, my perspective is that of a 40-year old white guy. I can understand how Angry some cracker using the N word must make any black man feel, but I haven't experienced it. It just seems by publicizing this obnoxious racist misconduct you might be giving these idiots exactly what they want. They're total cowards. If you put them in a room with Culpepper or Mcnair they'd last about 10 seconds.

    The article is right in the sense that it is amazing such people still exist. But there are a lot less of them, you'd hope. [/b][/quote]
    Agreed. Thanks

  6. #6
    This is so stupid. Who cares if the guy is white or black? I loved seeing Warren Moon play...tha guy Had a cannon and a big Heart. Houston's team was awesome when Moon was clicking!

    Daunte Culpepper is a mountain of a man and he has got crazy skills as a QB. It makes no diff if you are white or black..a good QB is a good qb.


    LL

  7. #7
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    The saddest, stupidest and most pathetic thing about this story is Jacksonville is having a much beeter season than anticipated up to date.

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