Tag Archives: Terrell Owens

When “Shut-Up and Play” Hits Home

23 Feb
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St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler, picture here with his wife Darya, who is from Iran,, received some hate-filled messages on social media for expressing concern that President Trump’s executive order banning Muslims from coming to the U.S. would affect his wife’s family. Iran is one of seven countries listed on Trump’s executive order. Photo courtesy of Youtube.

When Black professional athletes are often told to stick to sports, sometimes it’s asking too much.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

I used to think of sports as a way to bring people of different backgrounds together with the possibility of getting to know each other and learning somehow to negotiate the things that divide us.

During my years as a sports writer, I’ve found that more often than not, that notion is still a long, long, way off, especially when it’s an African-American athlete who dares to speak out on race in a way that’s critical of American society.

Dexter Fowler, St. Louis Cardinals newly signed outfielder, recently found that out the hard way. During an interview with ESPN, Fowler was asked about the Executive Order President Donald J. Trump recently signed banning immigration and travel from seven Muslim nations.

This ban hit home for Fowler because his wife, Darya Baghbani is from Iran, one of the seven countries listed in the order. Fowler, like any husband and father would, expressed how the travel ban would affect his family.

“It’s huge,” Fowler told ESPN. “Especially anytime you’re not able to see your family. It’s unfortunate.”

Never mind that Fowler neither mentioned Trump by name nor said anything disparaging about him, the speedy Cardinals outfielder was hit on social media with “shut-up and play!”, a time-honored bon mot that’s been thrown at a who’s-who of Black athletes that includes Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith, John Carlos, the Black players who boycotted the American Football League All-Star game in 1965 and more recently Colin Kaepernick and Martellus Bennett.

That plantation mentality has been ingrained in the minds of some White sports fans and even sportswriters when it comes to African-American athletes. You can hit homeruns, slam-dunk from the free-throw line, and score touchdowns all you want, but once Black athletes veer off of that very straight line and talk about the ills they see in society, they’re told to remember their place and to be grateful that they live in a country that allows them to earn millions of dollars from playing a sport.

What’s really sad to me is that the White sports fans who spew this kind of vitriol seem to believe that Black athletes give up their First Amendment rights the moment they sign their first pro contract or even when they sign that collegiate letter of intent. You also have to wonder what their attitude toward the 13th Amendment is. I mean, it was former St. Louis Cardinals great Curt Flood who once said is a slave is still a slave even if he’s a well-paid one.

But even worse than telling a Black athlete to just shut up and play is the hypocrisy that sometimes comes with that statement. For example, when white athletes like New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady refused to visit the White House when President Barack Obama was president, none of the fans criticizing Black Patriots players like Martellus Bennett for skipping the visit or giving Fowler grief would ever tell Brady to just shut up and play.  He’s an American hero to them.

That’s the folly of conflating nationalism, patriotism and racism in these situations. If an athlete like Fowler can’t even express concern for his family without being raked over the coals for making a “political statement”, we have a problem.

The larger issue in my mind is that Blacks, the LGBTQ community, Hispanics, and Muslims are supposed to just lay down and take it on the chin in the face of bigotry. It reminds me of the mentality of calling out the Native Americans as “savages” for daring to fight back against the theft of their land.

In the end, all Fowler did was express concern for how a misguided policy decision on the part of a President who built is entire campaign and large chunks of his administration on fear and bigotry. To his credit, Fowler has managed to stand is ground despite the backlash.

But to the people telling Fowler to shut up and play I say this:

When you’re telling a fellow American to “just shut up and play”, you’re not only being a bigot, you’re also being downright un-American because the Constitution of the United States gives every American the right to speak his mind—

And that’s whether you like it or not.

 

Allen Iverson Deserves to be a First Ballot Hall of Famer

19 Feb
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Former Philadelphia 76ers star Allen Iverson is a finalist for the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame. Photo by Webster Riddick.

It’s a surprise to no one in this town that former 76ers guard Allen Iverson is a finalist for enshrinement in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in
Springfield, Mass.

Throughout what was a tumultuous career in Philadelphia, Iverson was nothing short of brilliant on the court and deserves to be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Despite being just under 6 feet tall, he was a four-time scoring champ and often scored over men much bigger than him.

He was an `11-time NBA All-Star, led the league in steals three times in his career and was MVP of the NBA All-Star game twice.

Sixers fans will always remember the incredible ride to the 2001 NBA Finals where he played the role of Superman and put a team of role players on his back. Even though the Sixers lost that series, people still talk about the win in Game One where Iverson hit a jumper over a falling Tyronn Lue and then casually walked over the Lakers guard.

I just hope that Hall of Fame voters will base their decision on Iverson’s Hall of Fame admission on his on the court play and not his off the court issues. As I say when it comes to the Hall of Fame of any sport, players should be judged strictly on what they’ve done in their careers during game time, and that alone.

But there’s always a tendency for more than a few voters to look at how a potential Hall of Famer got along with the media or if they were paragons of high moral virtue.  When you consider that KuKlux Klan members, pedophiles and even murderers are in the Halls of Fame of several sports, the irony of Iverson facing judgmental sportswriters is glaring.

Recently, former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens, was denied entrance into the Pro Football Hall of Fame not because he didn’t have the stats—he ranks in top 10 all-time in receiving yardage, touchdowns and receptions—but because of his perceived diva-like behavior that rankled coaches and teammates.

ESPN columnist Skip Bayless on several occasions called him, “Team Obliterator.”

Now I’m not going to lie. Owens had issues with teammates and coaches. When he was here in Philly, he did play a role in his own demise with the Eagles by taking shots at quarterback Donovan McNabb, something that you just don’t do.

But that said, you can’t deny that Owens played like a champion, even if, as his critics put it, he wasn’t necessarily doing it for the team. Playing in a Super Bowl on a broken leg and gaining 100 yards receiving was a remarkable achievement.  You also can’t argue with his numbers. In most cases, ranking in the Top 10 all-time in three different categories at your position makes you a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer.

I think Owens will eventually get into the Hall of Fame just like a number of players who were perceived as troubled during their playing days.

But what he did on the field should have been good enough to get him in this year.

And that’s why I’m concerned that Allen Iverson might meet the same fate.

During his time in Philly, Iverson left it all on the floor. Playing hurt was no big deal to him. He maxed out his talent.

But he did have more of his share of off-the court issues. He didn’t keep himself in as good of shape as he could have, something that might have kept his injuries to a minimum.

And then there was the infamous “We talking ‘bout practice,” speech. While it continues to live as a meme and occasionally shows up on social media thanks to YouTube, it didn’t endear Iverson to the local media.

Iverson was true to himself and truly kept it real. He was a great player on the court and his own man off of it.

So in his case, we need to be talking about first ballot Hall of Famer.

Don’t Look for the Eagles to Trade Jackson Anytime Soon

21 Mar

By Chris Murray

Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson wants to renegotiate his contract his five-year, $48 million contract with the Eagles.

Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson wants to renegotiate his contract his five-year, $48 million contract with the Eagles.

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

PHILADELPHIA—For all the talk during this free agency signing period about the Philadelphia Eagles wanting to maintain their chemistry, the question to be asked when it comes to team’s shopping of wide receiver DeSean Jackson is, can there be addition by subtraction?

According to media reports, the Eagles are listening to offers for Jackson, who wants to renegotiate his five-year, $48-million contract. The former Cal star said last January that he was deserving of a new deal.

You remember the last hotshot Eagles wide receiver who wanted to renegotiate his contract, right? It was some guy named Terrell Owens and we all know what happened with that. Not only did the Eagles not budge in that situation, but they also eventually showed Owens, and his agent Drew Rosenhaus, the door.

Maybe Jackson should talk to T.O.and his former agent Rosenhaus about that one.

But that said, Jackson is coming off a career year where he caught 82 passes for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns. He fit Chip Kelly’s offense quite well, especially in the vertical passing game.

But one thing that you have to understand about the NFL is that every player, even the superstars, is expendable if you can find a good deal.  General managers like the Eagles’ Howie Roseman will tell you is that his office gets calls about players all the time.

As good as Jackson has been over the years with the Eagles, he is not above being replaced. No one is going to confuse him with Megatron (the Detroit Lions’ Calvin Johnson), or is going to mention him in the same breath as the Larry Fitzgeralds, and Andre Johnsons of the world. Jackson is not the best route runner in the world and struggles at times against press coverage.

In fact, in the Eagles’ playoff game against the New Orleans Saints, Jackson was held in check by Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis before he left the game with an injury. Jackson caught just three passes for 53 yards.

But at the same time, if you’re going to get rid of Jackson, you’d better get somebody who is ready to start at wide receiver right now either through free agency or the draft.

The current free agent pool is slim at wide receiver right now. The most notable guy out there now is Dallas Cowboys free agent Miles Austin, who was battling injuries all last season and hasn’t really lived up to the promise of a few years back.

The best wide receiver in the draft is Clemson star Sammy Watkins, who is projected to be a high first-round pick.  If you’re going to unload Jackson, you might want to make a deal to be able to draft Watkins, who caught 101 passes last season and had a monster 16-catch effort against Ohio State in the Orange Bowl.

Another possibility is Texas A&M wideout Mike Evans. The six-foot-five, 223-pound receiver runs a 4.5 40-yard dash and has the potential with his size and hands to be a nightmare for opposing defenses in red-zone situations. He caught 65 passes for 1,322 yards and 12 touchdowns.

The Eagles would probably have to trade up in the draft to get Evans as well and Jackson would probably be part of that deal.

But you know what? It ain’t gonna happen.

According to most reports that I’ve seen, Jackson’s $10.5 million annual salary is the thing that’s making teams a little squeamish about pulling the trigger on a trade for the 27-year-old wide receiver. The New York Jets, New England Patriots and the San Francisco have reportedly made calls, but nothing really serious.

So Jackson’s probably staying put for the time being.

The Eagles have to hope that Jackson’s grumbling over his contract doesn’t escalate to the point to where he’s a distraction. Trading him only makes sense if you’re going to get something of equal or greater value. Since no one in the league is trying to do that.

If I were advising him, I would tell Jackson to chill and concentrate on improving upon last season and then seeing what can be worked out.  More importantly, I’d advise him to avoid trying to “negotiate” with the Eagles in the media by griping about it constantly….

‘Cuz that’s a battle you ain’t gonna win….

Just ask your boy T.O…..