Football has long been the great racial equalizer in the United States and perhaps the ultimate tool in bringing about equality in opportunity for Black people.
Pro Football was integrated in 1946 and Americans who had never conversed with Black people were now rooting them on as they scored touchdowns for the home team:
“The integration of major professional sports dealt a blow to segregation across the country, causing other racial barriers to fall,” said Voinovich, a former mayor of Cleveland. “The players deserve to be recognized not only for their outstanding contributions on the field but for the vital roles they played in history.”
College football integrated later, but used Black players from the former Confederate States as prized recruits. You see, Southern schools were some of the last to integrate (as we have discussed), and the Black players that were denied entry to all-white Southern universities found fertile grounds elsewhere (interestingly, most Black people now would be denied entry to many Southern school’s and Northern school’s, due to new, semi-rigorous standards, if they didn’t excel at football).
As noted in a previous post, were it not for college football, most, if not all, major university’s in the United States would have only a handful of Black people in attendance. Thank God for football, for without it, diversity would be non-existent at every college in America, sans Historical Black Colleges and Universities.
Indeed, without sports, it is hard to imagine Black people ever gracing the television screens in American households – remember, Black people are only 13 percent of the population – save for Cops, Tyler Perry shows and documentaries that deal with the unsavory elements of our society (we’ll come back to this later).
Football is the end all in America, a religion that surpasses Christianity in devout followers across the land. On fall Saturday’s and Sunday’s, millions pray to the football Gods above to bestow upon their team a victory, and the demise of their lacking in piety opponent.
And yet, amidst the sacrosanct cathedrals that dot the national landscape and each Saturday and Sunday serve as the American version of the great pilgrimage to the Kaaba, a prodigal son has risen who single-handily has become the dominant force in all of football and threatens to revolutionize the game forever.
We are not talking about Michael Vick, a man who some thought would change the game forever, but instead become fodder for late-night comics.
No, we refer to Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, a 22-year-old white quarterback who has been an integral part of two-national championship teams, a role-model and ambassador for the troubled sport and the epitome of all that a student-athlete can represent, as opposed to just athlete-students:
“Tebow was born on August 14, 1987 in the Philippines to Bob and Pam Tebow, who were serving as Christian missionaries at the time. While pregnant Pam suffered a life-threatening infection with a pathogenic amoeba. Because of the drugs used to rouse her from a coma and to treat her dysentery, the fetus experienced a severe placental abruption. Doctors expected a stillbirth and recommended an abortion to protect her life.
She carried Timothy to term, and both survived. All of the Tebow children were homeschooled by their mother, who worked to instill the family’s Christian beliefs along the way.”
Tebow, the son of missionaries, didn’t require the generosity of a white family to raise him from poverty – like Michael Oher – but instead had the loving support of his biological parents and the strong bond of Christianity that steered him in a positive direction.
His statistics in college have been incredible, and he is a front-runner for winning his second Heisman Trophy:
However, scouts from the NFL wonder if he can produce the same results at the professional level and question whether he can even play quarterback at all:
“On how Tebow’s quarterback skills might not transfer well to the NFL: “With a Tim Tebow, there will be a big adjustment to the NFL. It takes smart accuracy, and accuracy in college isn’t the same thing as in the NFL. He’s not a pure pocket passer like a Matt Stafford. Can he make all the throws? Can he make all the reads? Can he learn to release the ball quicker? That remains to be seen.”
On Tebow’s final projection: “I’d say third or fourth round worst-case scenario, second round as a best case. Probably a third-rounder. That’s assuming his workouts are good.”
However, it is not for these reasons that Tim Tebow is included in Stuff Black People Don’t Like, but for reasons far more sinister and, odd as it may simple, out of resounding jealousy.
As stated, the national pastime is no longer baseball, but football, the sport most revered by men and the one which finds those whom participate in the game, as the most worshiped and beloved men in all the land.
Black people love football for it is how so many Black males attend college, and yet, as Jeff Benedict points out in his book Pros and Cons: The Criminals who Play in the NFL, few of these Black people learn any civic or ethics lessons there:
“According to the authors’ extensive research into more than 500 criminal complaints against the league’s recent players, a shocking percentage have been formally charged with committing a serious crime (rape, domestic violence, assault and battery, drug dealing, DUI, etc.). This alarming rate — and the gravity of these crimes — will stun even the most ardent NFL fan. This extraordinary book uncovers the true character behind heroes of the NFL and reveals the stories of the players who have turned America’s most popular sport into a national disgrace.”
This book, written 13 years ago, omits much that has transpired since then, for as Yogi Berra said, “It is hard to make predictions about the future.” Michael Vick, Tank Williams, Pacman Jones and his predilection for “Making it Rain”, Plaxico Burress, Donte Stallworth and a litany of other Black players had failed to even suit up for an NFL game when the book was written.
Steve McNair, a famous adulterer, was still in college.
According to Jon Entine, who wrote the book Taboo, Black people are perceived to have a monopoly of the genetic slice of athleticism that the DNA Gods bequeathed upon mankind:
“Asians are 57 percent of the world’s population but are virtually invisible on the world stage of running, soccer, and basketball. The smallest of the world’s major races, people of sub-Saharan African ancestry, are about 12 percent of the world’s 6 billion population, yet their dominance of some sports is staggering. Blacks are 13 percent of the U.S. population but are: 80 percent of professional basketball players, 65 percent of professional football players, one-third of professional baseball players, and 70 percent of women’s professional basketball players.”
And yet, Tebow has been awarded so many trophies and accolades in his tenure as the Florida Gators quarterback that some wonder if every award shouldn’t bear his name from now on.
Remember, it was Michael Vick that was to usher in the era of the new quarterback, prophesied with eerie exactness in the Oliver Stone movie, “Any Given Sunday”, a film about a talented Black quarterback who would replace the pocket-passing white quarterback.
Yet, it was Vick who spent two-years in jail for his role in dog fighting, and Tim Tebow who ushered in the era of the “Wildcat” offense, as in 2006 he was a formidable passer and rusher out of the QB position for the Gators during their run to the BCS title.
Interestingly, Tebow has spent a lot of time behind bars and in jail(s) too, but not for reasons that mirror Vick’s. No, Tebow spends his time in prison proselytizing hardened criminals and men whose vocation and avocation were murder, about the glory of God and Jesus Christ:
“At a time when Americans are leaving organized religion in large numbers, according to a 2008 Pew Research poll, Tebow is leading his own personal counterinsurgency. “Every Sunday we have a service for our players and their families,” says Meyer, who remembers when “three or four kids would show up. Now the room’s full.” Since Tebow’s arrival on campus, and in large part because of him, Florida has launched a series of community-service initiatives. Even as the football program has suffered an embarrassing string of arrests, the number of hours players devote to charitable causes has dramatically increased. “Our community service hours are completely off the charts,” says Meyer, who describes his quarterback’s influence on the team as “phenomenal.”
“You should come with us to death row,” he tells a reporter on the drive back to Gainesville. “It’s gonna be great!”
On July 21, in fact, Tebow and Williams planned to head to the Florida State Prison in aptly named Starke. There, Tebow hoped to be allowed to speak to the 30 or so prisoners awaiting execution. The more incorrigible the inmate, the more Tebow relishes the chance to save him. “Sometimes it’s those guys at rock bottom who are the ones looking for a change,” he explains. If Lawtey was an early-season nonconference opponent for Tebow, death row was akin to Death Valley, as LSU’s Tiger Stadium is known.”
Tim Tebow is a college football mega-star, which means he is worshiped by the masses like few men before him, and even fewer will be after. He has the power to make grown men cry, when one of his perfect passes zips over the head of Black defensive back and ensures the Gators beat that grown man’s alma mater.
Remember the Rush Limbaugh- Donovan McNabb crisis of 2003?:
“Let’s review: McNabb, he said, is “overrated … what we have here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback can do well—black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well.”
Of course you, the sports-fan who salivates for every statistic and rumor as a lonely house wive pines over her soap opera does, recall this event with great clarity. But are you prepared to deal rationally with the onslaught that will greet Tebow when he hears his name called in the 2010 Draft?
Tebow is the ultimate athlete and ambassador for the game, in fact the greatest player to ever lace up cleats in college football history. He happens to be white, enjoys spreading the word of Christ to large-congregations of Black people in prisons and yet, he won’t be either an athlete who spends all his money nor one whom ends up in a book detailing the large rap sheets of NFL players.
Stuff Black People Don’t Like includes Tim Tebow, the individual who has done more to shine a positive light on football then any student-athlete who came before, or will follow. His parents told he should be aborted, which many Black women do without any professional advice, Tebow is a child who never should have been. Steadfastly demolishing myths like “White Men Can’t Jump” and striving to bring hope to Black people in prison (many of whom were once cheered by white alumni of college’s and university’s on the football field), unlike so many other privileged athletes.