By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
Here’s The Story…..
CALIFORNIA – When actress Bridget Moynahan’s publicist announced that her client was pregnant, the father was New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, and that privacy and consideration was appreciated at that time, I couldn’t help to laugh.
She just pulled the top off the biggest non-important celebrity story since Britney Spears shaving her head, and she believed that it was going to quietly slip away like the monkey that was currently on Tony Dungy’s back.
But when the laughing died, I was left listening to how it was being handled, and then decided to put a slight twist on it – what if it wasn’t Brady, but say, one of the current young Black quarterbacks in the NFL?
Would there be a difference in the coverage – and would it be justified?
I’m nearly a bona-fide Sociologist with the acumen to do viable research and make things stick, and so I can see the warped stuff and separate it from the credible. Even that doesn’t make things wholly credible, but it’s the best I’ve got.
Black athletes have been shredded in the out-of-wedlock, many “baby momma” subject, while white athletes have gotten a bit of a pass in this matter.
Recently, it’s been Brady and Arizona Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart who had the spotlight in this affair.
The Leinart case, having a baby with Brynn Cameron, a female basketball player at USC came and went with a flash. The only thing that gave this thing any teeth was Leinart’s alleged involvement with Paris Hilton at one point in his life, plus his partying lifestyle.
The moral context of the situation wasn’t even discussed, and people, mostly young women, and probably white women, were just hoping that the two had a happy ending.
The Brady case seems to be centered around the fact that the New England QB is now dating another supermodel, while his recently betrothed is with child. A reluctant triangle, but in this situation, it’s all about the players, not the morals, or anything else that could make this a true human interest story.
But we’re not dealing with the human interest element by itself, but the coverage and why it is.
Whenever we hear about a child out-of-wedlock by an athlete, who do we think about? Over 95 percent of people would probably say my birthday mate, Shawn Kemp. He made it bad with that “seven kids for six mothers” blueprint for irresponsibility.
There have been admissions by former players, most famously Wilt Chamberlain, who documented how players indulge in “pleasures of the flesh” while on the road throughout a long basketball season. Kemp, and other players like Larry Johnson, stepped up the game, and made the situation, an epidemic.
Oprah Winfrey blew the situation out of the water with a two-day extravaganza with Kemp getting top-billing in the production. With black players building a negative stigma in terms of how they are covered in the press, this would just as well be normal behavior for a people who are prone to this kind of stuff, right?
“Sports Illustrated” did a story in 1998 running off current and former NBA players who were in the midst of paternity suits around that time, and list was: Juwan Howard, Patrick Ewing, Jason Kidd, Stephon Marbury, Hakeem Olajuwon, Isiah Thomas, and Larry Bird.
How many knew Larry Legend was a “baby daddy?”
More quick tales had former Yankees pitcher Randy Johnson giving “the hand” to a teenage love child, and suing the mother for back pay of his child-support payments.
Come and gone real quick.
While in the entertainment realm, Stephen Bing threw a few shekels at Elizabeth Hurley after denying, and really not wanting to be, her unborn baby’s father.
That was a quickie as well as Mick Jagger’s birthing a baby with a model, and the press brushing it off as “Mick being Mick,” even though he was still involved with former wife Jerry Hall.
Meanwhile, Jesse Jackson’s child out-of-wedlock story was hit with a massive deluge of negative press, and you can still hear people of all races say when the Reverend makes a morality point, “How can you even say that? You had a child out-of-wedlock!”
But appearances, predominately littered by black men on “The Maury Povich Show” where they do those paternity tests three times a week, and subjects dealing with problem relationships, perpetuate what becomes ingrained as strong belief, as well as, how the media will best portray this kind of situation with a black face on the cover page.
However, it is this negative posturing by black men on “Maury,” and guys like former NBA players Ralph Sampson and John “Hot Plate” Williams, and former NFL receiver Andre Rison who have been jailed for not paying child support that attracts the most eyes to the page, tube, and PC screen.
And let’s us not forget one of the more tragic stories of our generation in this territory, the Rae Carruth story.
No need to go into all the horrors, except to review that Carruth, a former Carolina Panthers receiver, was convicted of having his pregnant girlfriend ambushed and gunned down, because she was carrying his child, and Rae-Rae wasn’t really up for the responsibility.
How do you escape from shadows that large? You can’t, even if there are those trying very hard to make a change.
Former NBA player Harvey Grant said that he was surrounded by positive athlete-fathers early in his career with the Washington Bullets. All of those guys would talk with him about the virtues and wonder of being a father, and how to put the basketball and that child’s life into perspective.
They were trying to make a change wherever they went, and not just to Grant.
But, one of those also flying under the radar is Denver Nuggets guard Allen Iverson. The problem with A.I. is that his rep based on his past legal problems, tattoos, and reluctance to practice, makes it hard for people to conceive that he has the ability to be an excellent parent.
But as he once said, he wishes to be a great father to his son, Deuce, like his mother was great to him.
“I’m better at being a father, than I am a ballplayer,” which means he must be a uber-excellent dad. But once again, we never get any blowout stories about their relationship, but we get super-sized happy tales about Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade and his son Zaire.
We get the Wade exposure because he is the clean flavor right now, but there are many other black athletes out there that might explode with richness and great joy to tell their particular positive stories – the kind of stories the black community could use, and everybody could see to break off these stereotypes, and get more comprehensive coverage of black athletes and their relationships with their children.
You are what you be, and we are this because when people of power put you in a situation, it is up to them to cut you loose or not – and as long as we keep perpetuating the behavior with more heinous stories from out-of-wedlock kids to having honies in every port, this is what we be until further notice.