The Hall of Do Better: Jason Whitlock, Michael Vick, Ray Lewis
Never-mind it’s obvious and egregious poaching of talent from ESPN. The tactics utilized by the producers and on-air contributors at Fox Sports’ nationally broadcasted television shows, in order to generate ratings, are shameless. And they often come at the expense of the reality that many minority citizens of this country have to live through everyday of their lives.
If I could be a fly on the wall during the pre-production meetings of shows like Undisputed and Speak for Yourself I’d imagine the discussions going something to the tune of, “Alright we need someone who doesn’t agree with all the other black people.”
So they sit back and let the embarrassment that is Jason Whitlock run amok, providing the professional black contrarian response to all that is wrong with race relations in America. They invite Mike Vick, a convicted felon, to speak for what Colin Kaepernick, not a convicted felon, should be doing to change the public’s perception of him. They reach out to Ray Lewis to explain why the Ravens won’t sign Colin Kaepernick when their starting quarterback is currently injured and instead chose to sign an Arena Football quarterback (lol!).
Welcome to the first installment of The Hall of Do Better. A collection of notable public figures whom I believe could use some time to rethink what they’ve done. Today I tip my hat to Fox Sports and the three contributors who tried (and still try, in the case of Jason Whitlock) to set us back a few years with their comments.
Inductee Number One: Jason Whitlock
Whether at ESPN or Fox Sports he's proven to be the designated answer to the “we need a black guy for this race issue, who's also not going to scare the white people away” dilemma. The “See? They're not all like that” poster boy in sports media.
Time and time again he’s called upon to help lead the discussion whenever sports crosses into the world of society and culture, particularly as it pertains to Black America. And time and time again he shows himself to be a spineless contrarian to the otherwise understood stance of almost all of Black America. Jason, YOU CAN’T ALWAYS BE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF EVERY ARGUMENT! Either he's blind to injustices or is willing to sell decades of progress to buy more fedoras.
Don’t believe me? Keep reading:
Before it was ever launched, he was removed from ESPN’s The Undefeated, a site that focuses on race and culture (!!!), because the company believed he was best at “creating distinctive and compelling content” elsewhere. In other words, "let’s remove him from talking about race and sports before he turns this whole operation into a dumpster fire."
After LeBron James’ Los Angeles home was vandalized with “nigger” spray painted across the gate, Whitlock claimed that James’ assertion that it’s hard being black in America wasn’t true. His reason? James is rich and should basically shut the fuck up about the difficulties of life. I mean, he’s not poor so what does he care?
Then there was the whole Lavar Ball-Kristine Leahy-Charlamegne debacle that led to two Donkey of the Day Awards, one for each Leahy and Whitlock, perpetuated because of Leahy doing her best to pull the Big Black Boogieman card. Whitlock came to his Speak for Yourself co-host’s defense after she was crowned Donkey of the Day by claiming he was the resident authority on the matter. And the rest is history:
Inductee Number 2: Michael Vick
Would you like to hear a man stick his foot in his mouth? Listen to Mike Vick suggest that Colin Kaepernick shave his afro to appear more presentable to the public. Seriously, this was probably worse than Rob Parker’s RGIII is a “cornball brotha” comment on ESPN a few years ago. And that’s not an honor that I dish out lightly, because that was legendary.
But seriously what does it say about the fabric of the show runners at Fox Sports that they deemed it appropriate to refer to a convicted felon for insights into how a man, who never broke the law, can repair his public image? With this in mind, Vick shouldn’t have been on the panel in the first place. But nevertheless he was, and he proceeded to make a complete ass of himself by attempting to give legitimacy to the idea that a black man exercising his right to free speech is threatening.
Inductee Number 3: Ray Lewis
You have no idea how much this pains me to write. Ray Lewis has been a staple in my psyche ever since I knew that the sport of football existed. He’s an upstanding citizen and model African American man, father, and public figure. He volunteers, and speaks on behalf of those who come from nothing and inspires millions of people to dig deep and chase their dreams at almost any cost.
Furthermore, like Mike Vick he had his brush with the law (but instead of dogs, human life was lost.) He, like Mike Vick, had to rebuild his public image. And he, like Mike Vick, was asked by Fox Sports to discuss Colin Kaepernick being a viable quarterback in the NFL.
And although he admits that Kaepernick is a better quarterback than Ravens backup, Ryan Mallett, Lewis is not ready to view him as the right choice for the Ravens because...I don’t know, and I don’t think Lewis even knows. Participating on both Speak for Yourself and Undisputed, he appears to admonish Kaepernick for bringing outside issues into the sport but the future Hall of Famer does a remarkable job deflecting every opportunity to defend his position.
However his thoughts on Colin Kaepernick signing with the Ravens is not the reason I am shaking my head at my boyhood idol. It’s the fact that he being such a revered public figure, and especially with his legal history, appears to always distance himself from those who find themselves on the wrong side of the public ire:
Remember his thoughts on the 2011 NFL Lockout?
And now his position on Colin Kaepernick’s stance.
I am almost ashamed to write this, that for the first time in my life I look at Ray Lewis as an abuser of his platform who uses the opportunity to publicly impart wisdom and support on individuals in need, not in the name of doing what is right, but as a way of keeping his name clean. Because his image as a role model is too important to him and the NFL shield that gave him his name.
I understand that I was highly critical toward the subjects of this article, but in no way does that mean I hold any animosity towards any of them. I just believe that each of these men owe it to a lot of people to use their platforms to be better and to inspire others.