A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Fowler’s Historic Purchase Could Be AND Should Be Normal In African American Culture
|Arizona businessman Reggie Fowler will make history when the NFL owners approve him as the new owner of the Minnesota Vikings.|
SAN ANTONIO – Well it’s almost official and it is quite celebratory as a milestone this month but pending any snafus in the next thirty to sixty days, Arizona businessman Reggie Fowler will become the first African American to be the general partner of an NFL franchise. It’s a historical moment even though Fowler may not believe that it is that significant right now. Well as much as I would like to accommodate Mr. Fowler and not tout the significance of race, I’d be remiss in not keeping that aspect front and center for this website. One of the goals of this website is to actually celebrate the achievements and accomplishments of individuals like Fowler because those achievements, especially in the realm of sports business, have been few and far between.
When I first found out that Fowler was going to be a serious contender in trying to acquire the Vikings, I did some serious research in trying to find out whom Reggie Fowler is. This has been a mystery both now and then when this story first broke. In our microwave age of reporting, readers want to know every tasty morsel about Fowler’s business acquisitions and whether this ‘black man’ could actually have the wealth to pull off such a deal. Even right now, as this column is being prepared for both print and web distribution, there is some newshound or news editor trying to find some type of information that he or she thinks would derail the process. Many may accuse even myself of doing such a deed a few weeks ago when I first wrote about the possible sale but as I wrote in my previous story on this topic, that should be of little concern to the NFL’s finance committee if Fowler’s proposal meets the scrutiny of that group of individuals.
So why is Fowler’s eminent purchase such a big deal in Black newspapers and websites on February 14, 2005? For far too long, the achievements of Black businessmen and women has been over shadowed during eleven months of the year but then highly regarded during this time. Yet let’s strip the month of February away from the issue just like Fowler so aptly stripped away the race card during his press conference on Monday. We are talking about an individual who has an estimated worth of $400 million and whose company, Spiral, Inc., made $314 million in 2004 and is the eleventh largest industrial company according to Black Enterprise magazine. So why is everyone clamoring to find out more about his mystery man? Because in our society of wanting to know everything about everybody, it is what makes or mornings go smoother, it is what keeps our lunch hour breaks lively and what makes pillow talk a little smoother at times. Because unlike some other notable African Americans who have made millions in this country, nobody knows anything about this man and for those individuals finding out who he is at this time of the year seems to mean it’s a historical moment.
Well maybe that’s a small reason why the mainstream media wants to try and dissect Fowler and this process but from this vantage point the month of February, or more specifically this week in that month, Black publications and/or websites should be showing that Fowler’s quest is indeed a historical marker because in decades past such ventures were not only unheard of but not even consummated in the mainstream segment of the population. Fowler’s eventual purchase of the Minnesota Vikings puts him in the same category as Robert Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television, when he was able to purchase an expansion team in the National Basketball Association. When you put this story in the context of what Johnson was able to do, it is a story of historical ramifications simply because nobody in the sports business realm ever thought that an African American would be able to pull off such a conquest. Johnson was doubted continuously and this was a man who has over a $1 billion in assets and purchased the Charlotte franchise for $300 million and became the first African American to be majority owner of a major professional sports franchise. If the NFL owners agree that Reggie Fowler is the next Minnesota Vikings owner, Fowler’s purchase of the team would top Johnson’s purchase of the Bobcats by $335 million in just a three-year span. That is something to say that is historical in itself.
If the mainstream media wants to fully understand why for African Americans why seeing Fowler become the new owner of the Vikings, they only have to realize that for many in Black communities across this nation, many kids only see themselves as becoming household names by being seen on television. What Fowler’s purchase of this team helps solidify is the notion that when it comes to being a businessman and in acquiring those assets that help make you become a part of the Forbes list at the end of the year, color means little in such transactions. Fowler, like Johnson, didn’t become millionaires many times over because of their skin color. What they did was take the history that they knew about their own cultures, add education and good sound business principles to a formula that became a model of their success in the business world.
The mainstream media doesn’t see that notion because what they see is a Black man buying a sports franchise. That’s not really historical in a sense. What is historical is that the world sees another man, who just happens to be of African American ascent, live the American dream and join others in an exclusive club where many others have failed to reach. What helps make this a little more important to African Americans around the world but especially in this country is that Fowler’s quest reiterates to thousands of others that with hard work, your dreams can become reality. That is the true historical significance for the African American community whether it and mainstream media and society want to acknowledge that fact.