Monday, November 07, 2005


Terrell's "Rush" To Judgment

On Saturday, the Philadelphia Eagles suspended star wide receiver Terrell Owens indefinitely for "conduct detrimental to the team." In addition to a controversial interview that Owens gave earlier in the week, it was reported that Owens had gotten into a physical altercation with former Eagle Hugh Douglas. Sunday evening, the Eagles lost to the Washington Redskins.

Now, the fight may have been the last straw for the Eagles, with whom Owens has been feuding for most of the season because of a contract dispute.

T.O. was asked to respond to the claim by ESPN commentator Michael Irvin (a former All-Pro wide receiver -- and one-time drug- and hooker-partaker -- with the Dallas Cowboys) that if current Green Bay QB Brett Favre were leading Philadelphia instead of Donovan McNabb, the Eagles would be undefeated. Owens said he agreed with that.

This was only the most recent Owens-initiated media attack on McNabb. During the Super Bowl, Owens could be seen screaming at McNabb. He later said that McNabb suffered a panic attack during the game. These were some of the comments that got Owens briefly sent home from training camp.

So, now back to last week's interview. First, Irvin's original comment was BS: Has he bothered to look at Green Bay's record? After Sunday, it's 1-7. The Eagles, given their Super Bowl appearance last year, are certainly a disappointment at 4-4, but at the time of the Irvin-Owens comments, the McNabb-led team was above .500. Favre's team would pray for .500 at this point.

But, there's an interesting, un-examined dynamic: Irvin, McNabb and Owens are all black; Favre is white.

Flashback: Two years ago, the Eagles were in the middle of another media-generated controversy when then-ESPN commentator Rush Limbaugh charged that McNabb was essentially overrated
because of race (click-through ad for full story):
I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. They're interested in black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well. I think there's a little hope invested in McNabb and he got a lot of credit for the performance of his team that he really didn't deserve. The defense carried this team.
A number of people disagreed with Limbaugh. Your humble blog writer thought Rush was wrong on the basic facts of the situation as it was circa 2003 -- and also faulted him for being the one to introduce race into a situation where it wasn't explicitly on the table.

At the risk of being found guilty of doing the same, I still have to wonder "What if...?"

Would there have been even more media intensity if a white ESPN analyst said the same thing about McNabb and Favre? Or if a white wide receiver was saying the same thing about his black quarterback (Owens has previously said that he wished Peyton Manning -- also white -- was his quarterback)?

Owens is a loose cannon and has a history of churlish behavior and turning on his teammates: After practically forcing a trade from the San Francisco 49ers, he later insinuated that former teammate Jeff Garcia was gay.

However, members of the media make certain judgments and observations everyday. It is not stretching the imagination to wonder how this story would be playing if the black quarterback was being criticized -- fairly or otherwise -- by "not his own."

So, would it be unfair to raise the question that would otherwise be asked: What is it about Owens and Irvin that makes them denigrate the accomplishments of the black quarterback in favor of a white one (who, incidentally, was largely responsible for the Packers' Sunday loss after his fumble was run back for a score and a later interception was subsequently converted into a touchdown)?

As Mr. Hall used to say, "Things that make you go hmmm...."

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