BY: KWAME FISHER-JONES
Seattle Seahawks All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman is headed to the Super Bowl, and accompanying him on his journey are adjectives that can only be described as abhorrent.
The public outcry from those who have taken to Twitter in an effort to share their poorly constructed sentences and atrocious versions of the English language, to cease have become nauseating.
After winning an emotional NFC title game, Sherman called San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree "mediocre" and in the process appeared to scare the bejesus out of sideline reporter Erin Andrews. And for that he is a "thug", "a classless jerk", "a monkey", and just an overall mean guy.
The cornerback's actions caused an uproar among football fans, many of whom Sherman has never and will never meet. Yet some, and to some extent Sherman, have felt the need to acknowledge and respond to these people.
Which begs the question, why?
Let us be honest, what has been said publicly about the Seahawk has certainly been said privately about the Seahawk.
Perhaps Sherman believed because he played football, worked hard at his craft, paid his taxes, and was an asset to his community that he was no longer “from Virginia”.
Perhaps his accomplishments in life somehow absolved him of the same opinions that many who look like him endure on an hourly basis.
To simplify, those who can call a man they have never met a thug based on a contrived and spirited post game rant are not worth the time of a response. Just as those who call any person a thug or monkey are not worth the time away from picking your nose, yet alone the time spent responding.
Does anyone actually believe they are going to change the mind of social media?
That individual is always going to see thug, even with their eyes closed. Their perception will remain reality, regardless of the most eloquent of retorts.
So frankly no one should give a damn, most of all the Seattle cornerback.
The All-Pro's actions since the interview, more specifically his attempt at appeasement, have sharpened the knives that have been thrown his direction.
Does anyone who has color television honestly think Sherman, or any athlete, is a thug?
Furthermore, does anyone who is not married to their family member even use the word "monkey" to describe an African-American?
It may seem cliché', but Rich consider the source.
Would you stop to acknowledge the homeless man who is obviously a few nuggets short of an eight piece, if he was screaming epithets at you? Then why acknowledge the social media version of said "person"?
We as logically thinking individuals need to ignore these cries for attention and stop giving light to the darkest of minds. Yes there was a time where it paid to educate your attacker, but today is not that time.
The true tragedy in this fiasco is the logic and reasoning that many have uttered in an attempt to prove Sherman is not a thug. Citing his Stanford education and the cornerback's elite status, all in an attempt to prove the athlete is not what his attackers believe him to be. In doing this it gives further credence to the notion that only a college educated African-American man can escape the thug label.
In an attempt to establish the All-Pro as a stark contrast to what these people have believed him to be, all it has really done is belittle so many who have been called or treated as thug. A population voided of the same accomplishments as the Seahawk.
The Seahawk’s accomplishments, while sensational, are not what proves the cornerback is not worthy of the thug label.
Rather it is his standing in the community which he resides, or the fact that he is a productive member of society, and most of all his respect for the law.
A man's profession or status in society should not dictate whether he is or is not entitled to irrational attacks. The belief that his degree is what solidifies Sherman as the very antithesis of a thug is truly what’s alarming. Not the need by those who are steadfast in their ignorance to insult him.
This is what happens when you answer to foolishness and ignorance.
This is what happens when we look to Twitter to be anything more than a forum of silliness.
We all must understand that the truth needs no explanation. Often people attempt to belittle and insult because their misery has become their rest haven, and there is no other way that they know how to communicate.
Sherman has taken time away from what should be the most enjoyable time in his life to indulge in ridiculousness. This action has allowed his biggest critics to bask in the light the cornerback has worked so hard to shine in.
The Seattle Seahawks are headed to Super Bowl 48 because of the cornerback's outstanding play on the field and that alone is all he or anyone else needs to be concerned about.
Quite frankly, the opinion of "Cockney White", "Vic Daring", and "pfenning31" just to name a few should not shock or bother anyone. News flash Virginia there racists and idiots among us, and if you find a dark enough hole chances are they are there congregating.
Yes there was a time we as a society needed to ostracize these people, while publicly calling them out for their ignorance, but that time has passed. Today these people relish in being acknowledged. Today these people aspire for our attention, all in an attempt to pull those who walk a higher road down to their path of misery.
Everyone should be thankful that these individuals are willing to identify themselves, rather than hide. Therefore we know whom to disregard.
Most of all Sherman, and people in general, need to understand you cannot embrace the good without accepting the bad. Greatness does not cease at achievement. Great success comes with great applause and sometimes even greater jeers. Sadly those jeers do not subscribe to the “Burger King” philosophy, where one gets to have it their way.
People must end this desire to be loved by all, if we are not prepared to be despised by a few. Because people are going to call you a plethora of things, but ultimately it is what you answer to that substantiates who you are.
BY: KWAME FISHER-JONES
People are often blinded by the comfort of familiarity. This is why Philadelphia Eagles fans have chosen to regurgitate that the starting quarterback for the Birds this upcoming season will be either Michael Vick or Nick Foles. This sentiment is shared mainly because this is all fans have seen.
Well ladies and gentlemen please take a moment to meet Mr. Dennis Dixon.
Aside from the occasional Matt Barkley reference, most fans have blindly followed the notion it will be Vick or Foles under center this season. The mere mention of Dixon is met with sheer and utter disbelief.
The faith in the former Oregon Duck is substantiated by first and foremost the lack of qualified quarterbacks currently in front of him on the depth chart. All will agree that neither Foles nor Vick have distinguished themselves as bona fide starting quarterbacks in this league over the last two seasons.
There are a plethora of reasons, or excuses depending on where you sit on the fence, why both quarterbacks have struggled. The lack of skilled opposition combined with a skill set built for Chip Kelly’s offense and you should be at the least a bit intrigued.
Dixon has also been coached by some of the best quarterback minds in the NFL. The Eagles quarterback has had the privilege of learning from Super Bowl winning and participating coaches and players. That journey began with his time in Pittsburgh backing up Ben Roethlisberger to his one season in Baltimore with Joe Flacco.
Drafted by the Steelers in the fifth round, one can fully understand the immediate request for drug testing when stating Dixon should win the Eagles starting job. Alas, it is not where he was drafted but by whom he was drafted.
While in Pittsburgh, the former Steeler’s quarterback coach was 17-year NFL veteran Ken Anderson, and his offensive coordinator was none other the quarterback’s guru Bruce Arians. Yes, the very same Bruce Arians who coached the Indianapolis Colts to the playoffs and specifically helped Andrew Luck have one of the greatest rookie campaigns in NFL history.
Arians also was Peyton Manning’s quarterbacks coach during his first two seasons in the NFL.
Manning set five rookie quarterback records and Luck set seven rookie quarterback records under Arians’ tutelage.
Now no one is comparing Dixon to Manning or Luck, those examples illustrate just how brilliant of a quarterback mind Arians has. Dixon spent four years being taught by the coach and learning behind two time Super Bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger.
Dixon, in just limited playing, was able to gain the coach’s confidence. Despite Arians being extremely stringent in his time with Dixon and the coach remained adamant that the young quarterback execute from the pocket.
As a restricted free agent the quarterback languished in free agency before accepting a position on the Baltimore Ravens’practice squad. For some, landing on the practice squad could mean death to their NFL career, except for those who find opportunity in hard work.
It was on the practice squad where Dixon would eventually work with then Ravens quarterback’s coach and now Raven’s offensive coordinator, Jim Caldwell. Ravens’ current signal caller Joe Flacco improved dramatically under Caldwell.
However, it was Caldwell’s ten seasons working with the Indianapolis Colts, six of those seasons he was Peyton Manning’s quarterback coach that is his claim to fame.
Caldwell would coach Manning to his first league MVP award (the quarterback would win three MVPs in all under Caldwell), to a then single season record for touchdown passes (49), and to Manning’s sole Super Bowl title.
Again no one is comparing Dixon to Manning, rather illustrating how being coached by Caldwell for a year will have a tremendous effect on Dixon. In Baltimore, Dixon would also show his competitive valor, in lobbying to play the role of Washington Redskins’ quarterback Robert Griffin III and San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Dixon had success at playing both roles, and Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees gushed at how effective the quarterback was at playing RG3. Dixon stated that the style of play was second nature to him, because it was the same offense he ran while playing at the University of Oregon.
Yes the Ravens did lose to the Redskins in overtime, nevertheless Baltimore did defeat the 49ers in the Super Bowl, but for Dixon the preparation was yet another opportunity to learn his craft. Now in Philadelphia the one time Heisman hopeful and projected first round pick has a chance to put those lessons to task.
It is not farfetched to believe the fundamentals taught by Arians and Caldwell will be on display early and often by Dixon in training camp and more importantly in the preseason games. Just as Dixon is familiar with Kelly, the new Eagles’ coach is equally as familiar Dixon, and as previously stated there is always comfort with familiarity.
Furthermore, the Birds are not equipped with a formidable starting quarterback. So why is it so difficult to fathom Dixon has just as good a chance as Vick and Foles to become the Birds starter? Why do people scoff when Dixon’s name is mentioned? If anything there should be an idealistic approach to the notion.
Considering Dixon’s chief competition for starting the quarterback position consists of one qb who in 11 seasons has won more than 10 games once, there should be little resistance the idea.
An athlete who is familiar with a system, who has experienced success in that system, who is confident in his skill set, and believes they have an opportunity in front of them is usually successful. This will be no different.
When Coach Kelly opens up camp he will be demanding four quarterbacks execute a system that will be foreign to three of them. Meanwhile, fans will be hoping those three quarterbacks find a comfort level Dixon will already have.
There is a thin line between the unknown and the incomprehensible. Dennis Dixon has learned how to play the position of quarterback from two of the best playing the position and two of the best coaching the position. So it should not be incomprehensible that he will be the starting quarterback come week one, solely because he is unknown.
BY: KWAME FISHER-JONES
The recent words uttered by Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper has given everyone an indication of just how far the Eagles are from being formidable once again.
The NFL is unlike any other professional league. It is the one sport where players practice more than they play. It is the one sport where the bulk of your time is spent preparing rather than executing.
This is why it is paramount that a roster be comprised of individuals who possess almost linear focus. A group that, regardless of what has transpired remains steadfast and fixated on the task at hand.
In the NFL, unlike other professional leagues, wayward thinkers can not only cost you the game, but in some cases, it can cost a player his career. Each cog must move and think in unison, with putting the team first at all times.
This ordeal surrounding Cooper is just another example of a player elevating himself over the team. What the wide receiver said was despicable, but it is his selfish mindset that we should truly detest.
Every NFL player is fully aware that they represent the league and their prospective teams when they step outside, so they are expected to act accordingly. Every action has a reaction, and in most cases the reaction will include press conferences, players forced to release statements, and players being asked not about the game, but about different players’ actions.
It is now apparent that the Eagles are and were infested with, players who are only NFL players on Sunday. From former Eagles' conerback Nnamdi Asomugha eating in his car, to the “interesting” mind if Jason Babin, it should have been no surprise that these Birds faltered so tragically last season.
It appears these “me first”players are still present and ready to be accounted for on this current Eagles roster, and has rudely awaken us all to the fact that our Birds are more than just a quarterback away from competing for titles.
Grown men do not accidently say things. They are quite aware of what leaves their lips, and have made a conscious effort to accept the actions that ensue.
Cooper knew what he was saying and who he was saying it to. He didn’t care. Those who doubt that can ponder on this; the Kenny Chesney concert where Riley spoke his mind was on June 8th, a full 53 days later, an apology was given.
The wide receiver was not thinking of the horrid position he put his brothers in when he shared his viewpoints. Nor did he care about how it made the franchise look, as the Eagles attempt to return from NFL purgatory.
No one truly knows what lies in the heart of Cooper, and to be fair no one should care. The only thing that should matter is does he and the other men on this current roster think team first at all times.
Based on those actions the question has arisen, does Head Coach Chip Kelly have the foundation necessary to build a winner?
The answer thus far is no.
Consistency builds character; the Birds need to be consistent in cultivating a character conducive to a winning football teams.
Coaches have to be consistent in ridding a team of “me first” personalities. We should all remember Camden, New Jersey native George Hegamin. The former Dallas Cowboy was a prized free agent signing who left the team upon finding out he was being demoted to second team.
The guard returned at the request of his agent, pushed a slide and two weeks later was pushed out the door. Hegamin was part of an Eagles team that had gone 3 – 13 the season before, and was part of the problem not the solution. The new Head Coach of the Birds then was an unproven leader, who in his first season led the Eagles to a 5 – 11 record.
Kelly must follow suit and release Cooper.
Truth is the internet is littered with people who are not African-Americans uttering the very same word. The difference is they do not suit up for our beloved Birds, so quite frankly we do not care.
Far be it from any of us to judge Riley on anything other than how his actions affect the football team.
However, the foundation of team first players was being formed. A group of players who would survive bitter contract disputes (Jeremiah Trotter), devastating injuries (Donovan McNabb, Damon Moore, and Duce Staley), and gut wrenching losses.
The Eagles consistently put the team first in those days, thus building the character necessary to compete at a high level.
In San Francisco, Head Coach Jim Harbaugh continues to win football games with a roster comprised of players that many deemed untalented. The very same roster that two coaches prior to him failed at leading, is now winning because of a team first mentality.
Yet Harbaugh’s lessons were tested at the most critical of times. During Super Bowl week 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver decided to void away from the principles that led his club to the ultimate contest.
The 49ers would go on to lose Super Bowl XLVII 34 -31, and while many will point to occurrences on the field it is not a coincidence that such actions always precede losses.
Today, we are being told the Cooper’s comments should be forgiven and we must move on, but if he remains on this team what are we moving on to. Furthermore, what message does it send to the other players on this team who are now forced to speak to reporters, as well as, other players around the league regarding something non-football related?
Everyday a new challenge emerges, and in the NFL players must trust the man next to them to do what they have been taught and prepared to do. The slightest deviation from those lessons can be the difference between winning and losing.
It is imperative that a strong foundation be laid when building a winning team. A foundation made of players who a coach can rely on to do what he has been instructed to do, regardless of the adversity standing before him.
Riley Cooper has told us all who he really is, and there is no reason why we should not listen. Cooper’s actions deviated from what his brothers on the team have been prepared and taught to do, this should leave little doubt to who the receiver is and will be when needed the most.
Cooper’s release is not just necessary, but should be a foregone conclusion if this team is to ever build a true championship contender.
BY: KWAME FISHER-JONES
“If you go back through Mike’s career -------- and I mean all the way back to the beginning of the days in Atlanta, and you count up the games where he has 30 passing attempts………….The more he (Vick) throws the more trouble he gets into. The more turnovers he has, the more hits he takes, the more he gets hurt”------- Pro Football Hall of Fame writer Ray Didinger talking Michael Vick on Eagles Post Game Live
As the Philadelphia Eagles prepared for their final game of the 2012 NFL season, it was fitting that the man responsible for driving the Birds to Irrelevant-ville was again behind the wheel. When the ink dried on the 2012 season there was a plethora of excuses given to why quarterback Michael Vick underperformed.
Scribers will direct disdain to the offensive line and their inability to sustain blocks or the defensive secondary's lack of providing anything resembling coverage. Both claims are warranted and carry some sort of credence, but no single player, coach, or unit has failed this franchise the way Vick has. No.7’s poor throws and gut-wrenching turnovers have tormented the Eagles since week 15 of the 2010 season.
The Birds were 10-4 at that point and had successfully hindered the true Vick from rearing his lust for turnovers. Since that point the quarterback has led the Eagles to a 10 – 15 record. By now everyone is aware of the quarterback’s 26 interceptions and 21 plus fumbles in those 25 games. However, it is the hope that waned during the quarterback’s time under center that is so alarming and should be the final piece of evidence needed in extraditing No.7.
How many promising drives were killed by the quarterback’s turnovers? How many certain scoring opportunities were negated because of Vick’s love affair with the turnover?
It is hard to not be a fan of Michael Vick but it is impossible to believe in him. The mercurial quarterback has immense talent; unfortunately Vick has found a way to misguide that talent.
Those who believed in Vick would consistently feel the wrath of his commitment to disappointment. It is implausible to ask 52 men to strive for perfection and almost simultaneously you allow the quarterback to be insanely imperfect.
The diligence and consistency Head Coach Andy Reid displayed throughout his tenure was obliterated by Vick in just 39 games. A squad with young stallions who galloped effortlessly and almost flawlessly with former Eagles signal caller Donovan McNabb at the helm, now move with the sense of urgency reserved for donkeys.
At some point after watching Vick’s ninth interception and sixth fumble occur in the same game the zeal disappears. The spirit of joy is overcome by the misery of defeat and those players are only human for feeling that way. Especially when the man responsible for the ship sinking stands in the life boat and utters, "I know what I can do" or when he hits land and has the audacity to say "I wish I could play other positions” as if to infer he did not drive this once passionate youthful group to misery. It is easy to be led in the wrong direction and harder to be led to the right and there should be little doubt that Vick led this group to where we sit today.
Yes the quarterback had a litany of assistance in achieving this atrocity, but he was the Nino Brown of this Carter.
The first quarter in the Eagles final game in the Andy Reid era sums up No.7’s time in Philly. In that quarter against the New York Giants, Vick makes two fundamental errors to end the Eagles opening drive. First the quarterback failed to look off Giants' safety Stevie Brown, who was having a career year with eight interceptions, and then threw what FOX analyst Brian Billick kindly referred to as a “high floater” in the middle of the field. This is who Vick has always been and in the end it cost Reid his job.
That turnover came directly after the Eagles recovered an onside kick to open the game. Any momentum established after that kick was seized by Vick and destroyed.
The man who became the first ever African-American quarterback to be drafted first overall has failed at delivering his promise and should not be given another chance in Philly.
A new Head Coach, a new regime, and new hope should not be greeted by the same old broken promises, poor throws, and wretched excuses that accompany Michael Vick.
Unless new head coach Chip Kelly plans on changing his “Spread Offense” to a “Share Offense” Vick is not the quarterback for Kelly’s Eagles.
Furthermore, accountability must be exhibited by this new group of generals. Every player must be held to the same standard and there cannot be any pardons for those who fail to meet their prescribed level of play.
Vick has destroyed two franchises in his vexatious career with the hope he would change as a player. It is time for reality to replace hope.