By Gary Norris Gray, BASN Staff Reporter (first presented on January 9, 2017)
OAKLAND, CA.- African Americans have drastically changed the game of American Football with their grace, style, beauty, and power. The National Football League cannot turn the clock back.
Fritz Pollard and Bobby Marshall were the first African Americans in the National Football League in 1920. Pollard also became the first Black head coach. It did not happen again until 1978 with Art Shell head coach of the Oakland-Los Angeles Raiders. The league baned Black players between 1933-1950
- In the 1960′s the old (AFL) American Football League signed Black quarterbacks and middle linebackers and it was something the NFL refused to do. Young football fans loved it and could see the difference between the leagues. The AFL threw long bombs and had trick plays from scrimmage for touchdowns while the NFL played ground and pound, three yards and a cloud of dust. The AFL drafted players from (HBCU’s) Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the NFL did not. That was broken in the late 1970′s and early 1980′s.
- The Rooney Rule. The league could see there was a problem in the hiring of African American head coaches and wanted to fix the problem. The Pittsburgh Steelers owners The Rooney Family wanted to address this problem with a rule that at least one African American be interviewed for each head coaching job. It worked until the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions undermined and side stepped the rule by hiring inside their organizations. The league now struggles to enforce this rule today. Both teams were fined by the league but the genie was out of the bottle. Teams bypassed Black coaching potential with a quick interview then hired the man they wanted. Last year the Niners hired Chip Kelly one week after the Philadelphia Eagles released him and two years earlier the Buffalo Bills hired Mr. Ryan from the New York Jets six days after New York released him. This year six coaches were released, retired, or resigned. Next question will the Rooney Rule be enforced? Time will tell.
3. The league instituted new offensive and defensive rules after the merger to protect the players. In reality it was to defend against aggressive, assertive Black players like Oakland Raiders cornerback Jack Tatum, Lester Hayes, and Michael James Haynes. The league rewarded and praised these players for the same defensive tackles and hard hits in the 1970′s and 1980′s. The NFL has become a touch football game instead of tackle in 2016.
4. A player who is penalized twice in one game for unsportsmen-like conduct will be ejected from a game. The issue of players calling each other the N-word became the vocal point. This is the INCOGNITO RULE when a white linemen called a Black linemen the N-word repeatedly in the locker-room in Miami. Now we all know that brothers call each other this name with the double A at the end, and as a term of endearment or friendship. The league wanted to end this but how does this work when you have a team named the REDSKINS, the vilest name in the dictionary. The Washington Football Club and the NFL are calling Native Americans Red N*****S in public with no regrets. ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox Sports are allowed to use this name but get upset when Mr. Shannon Sharp points out the hypocrisies on the Sunday CBS pre-game show a year ago. The league is not happy that Native Americans and African Americans are not agreeing with owner Dan Snyder and Commissioner Roger Goodell on this issue.
5. The suspension of New England quarterback Tom Brady (Deflate Gate) two years ago compared to the suspension of Baltimore running back Ray Rice (Domestic Abuse) are like night and day, black and white. The Brady issue affects the game while the Rice issue was a personal issue. Nobody condones attacking any female. That being stated Rice never had a chance in the NFL. Rice was blackball from the league and never played another game. Tom Brady got a four game suspension and played a complete year including winning the Super Bowl. Mr. Brady did this while appealing his suspension. How does this work? This inconsistency continued this year in New York with placekicker Josh Brown being accused of domestic abuse against his wife. The Giants placed the domestic issue on hold for a complete year. Ray Rice was never a chance or afforded this courtesy.
6. The league pooh-poohed both the Ben Roethlisberger- Pittsburgh Steelers and Brett Favre-Green Bay, New York Jets, Minnesota, incidents of alleged sexual transgressions. The league never really criticized or punished either quarterback. The question should be asked WHY? ESPN went so far as to send memos to fellow reporters not to say a word about Big Ben’s issues because the network was in production of a new show on their network.
7. The Washington Football Club ended the choreography six point celebrations after touchdowns with their FUN BUNCH crew and sub group called The Smurfs in the 1980′s. The Fun Bunch scored a touchdown in Dallas and proceeded with their touchdown dance celebration. The Dallas Cowboys were not pleased and proceeded to break up the party in the end zone, creating a massive fight.
Teams are now assessed a 15 yard penalty at the impending kickoff. This too was directed at African American players like Billy “White Shoes” Johnson-Houston Oilers, who danced the boogie in the end zone and Ickey Woods who did the Ickey Shuffle for the Cincinnati Bengals. The league lost its mind when Deion Sanders-Atlanta Falcons did his stroll through the end zone after a interception for a score. This had to stop.
Can anybody explain why the Green Bay Packers are allowed to do the choreographed Lambeau Leap into the stands year after year without a fine or suspension? Is this not a choreographed celebration?
The Rules state that if teammates had a pre-planned celebration, it is a 15 yard penalty.
8. The Jeff Fisher Rule was intended for the mobile quarterback i.e. THE BLACK RUNNING QUARTERBACK. This new rule allowed the defense to tackle the quarterback once he left the pocket. It also restricted the mobile passer to the pocket and limited his addition to his team’s offense. This rule was put into effect in 2015 and was directed toward San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick after he torched The Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers in a NFC playoff game.
9. The Roughing the Passer rule can be interpreted many different ways but it seems that African American quarterbacks do not get equal protection and enforcement by referees. Breathe on Aaron Rodgers-Green Bay, Drew Brees-New Orleans, Matt Ryan-Atlanta, Carson Palmer-Atlanta, and New England’s Tom Brady and a yellow flag will come flying through the air. Andrew Luck-Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagle Rookie Carson Wentz have now joined this elite group of protected signal callers.
Meanwhile Black quarterbacks struggle on the field and continue to perform. Cam Newton-Carolina, Russell Wilson-Seattle, Robert Griffin III-Cleveland, Jamieis Winston-Tampa Bay, Tyrod Taylor-Buffalo, and Colin Kaepernick-San Francisco, just fight for survival on the field getting pummeled week after week by rushing defensive linebackers. The first game of the year Carolina Panther Cam Newton received three blows to the helmet, a yellow flag could be found. Newton had been hit 14 times in two years before a yellow flag could be seen. The question needs to be asked WHY?
10. Then there is the vagueness of the leagues personal conduct codes which few understand.
Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network, Disabled Community Activist. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org