I think it’s safe to say that we all understand that race relations in this country are a hot-button issue, and they’re sure to garner a lot of attention at multiple levels of society, as they should. No one can forget that we’re still less than 150 years removed from slavery entirely, and we’re only a little over 40 years removed from the turbulence of the 1960’s.
Things have gotten better, but not to the extent that we think. So when someone as prominent in the world of sports media as Bomani Jones addresses the issue of race as it pertains to a guy like Cam Newton, we all owe it to ourselves to stop, read, and digest. (Bomani’s column on Cam.)
I don’t doubt or even question Bomani’s larger premise, which is that Cam Newton, as well as many other black quarterbacks, have had to deal with a stigma that is completely dependent on their race and not their own personal skill levels or football acumen. However, that doesn’t mean that because I agree with the overall concept that I have to agree with the reasoning and the methods that led Bomani to this conclusion as a whole.
For example, the notion that Rodney Garner, the recruiting coordinator at Georgia (and an African-American), was somehow racially motivated when he “unequivocally told Newton’s high school coaches Newton would never play quarterback in the SEC,” is beyond ridiculous (Southern Miss wanted Brett Favre to play safety, for the record.) However, it pales at comparison to the idea that Florida, who recruited him as a quarterback, was also racially motivated in not playing Cam over Tim Tebow (not to mention the absurd notion that Newton wouldn’t have played over John Brantley.)
It’s as if someone asked Bomani to add one, two and three, then he proceeded to multiply instead. He might have come up with six (the correct answer), but that way of thinking isn’t always going to apply.
All of these points, plus several others were addressed by John Stansberry, or as you know him from his Twitter handle, “Lonely Tailgater.” I follow John on Twitter and have had nothing but pleasant interactions with him, as his snark certainly isn’t lost on me.
John questioned Bomani’s reasoning in the same sort of truculent manner as usual in a post on his website lonelytailgater.com. That’s simply the way the man does business. I read what he had written, which includes excerpts from Bomani’s original column as well as refutes a few of Bomani’s claims, and in the end I decided that beyond the argumentative posture of the article, I agreed with the point I thought John was making.
I tweeted my approval with a simple, “Ding-Ding-Ding” reply to John’s link.
Jones response, having not been addressed directly, was to tweet John and myself and call us “poor schmucks.” Essentially it led to a well-publicized Twitter battle where Bomani and John had it out with each other.
In turn, that led to a blog by CFN Columnist Matt Zemek, which examined the dichotomy of Jones and Stansberry’s interactions and the larger aspect of race relations in sports as a whole. Zemek tried to toe the line, but ultimately sided with Jones, which is fine, but once again I’ll ultimately have to disagree (with whom he sided with, not the article in its entirety which I thought was well-written.)
Is it truly necessary that Bomani Jones be placated so as not to damage his already inflated sense of self-importance? I read what Bomani wrote, I disagreed. His response wasn’t to discuss the matter, but to inflame it by pandering to the notion that anyone who didn’t agree with him was unintelligent and didn’t understand.
Maybe Bomani was off-put by the terse nature of Stansberry’s article, that I certainly can’t control (nor do I want to.)
At the end of the day, Bomani Jones alluded to a notion that I largely agree with (black quarterbacks often face unnecessary criticism), but he lost my sentiment when he chose to attack Newton and alleged racism in certain instances during Cam’s career where I think it’s a stretch. Period, that’s it.
There is no reason that myself or anyone else who read and agreed with Lonely Tailgater’s article should have to apologize for that, and if you stand on the other side of the fence that is fine. But don’t start heaving shit into my side of the yard.