Straight No Chaser: Papa Phelps Was A Rollin’ Stone

By Desi Cortez
Updated: August 22, 2008

DENVER — Last year, after Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson burst onto the NFL scene with his 21st century version of Gale Sayers — slash — Eric Dickenson….I was ready to blow-a-cork if I saw another sportswriter or radio/TV sports show host do some story, some supposed expose, delving into the relationship Peterson had with his dad, who had caught the pencil and was doing a stretch in the Big House.

There seemed to be this condescending, high and mighty patronizing flavor and feel to these probing stories, and some would even ask Adrian if he “missed his dad…?” They’d ask dad if he had any “regrets” about the sad situation of not being able to see his son run rampant thru and over the Big 12.

Questions in which the answer is obvious, but, and maybe I’m wrong, but ….. you have to be Black, Asian, or Latino to grasp this, but – it seemed the journalist wanted to get a “I’m so sorry” out of Dad, or hopefully tears or even frustration from Adrian…you know, for a good story….Pimp and exploit a families pain for personal gain..

Can you spell ESPN? FOX Sports?

My assumption; this particular angle is an appealing story; to some people. A collegiate gridiron star lighting it up in the NFL… and dad is not there to see it. Some Americans take pleasure in another man’s misery, and if that man is Black, then those folks taking pleasure…are doing cart-wheels, backward….

In every newsroom, some producer was laying-out why their show needed to send a reporter and cameraman into Mr. Peterson’s prison cell. This angle, this story was in demand by the sports-fan nation.

I bet we can’t count how many times we’ve seen some segment in a sports show, where a reporter is asking a player about the difficulties and hardships they endured growing up with a single mom….

Ain’t nobody ask Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps, or his momma about the drama they went through after dad left…..just when his son was diagnosed with ADD. And, Mr. Phelps’ got married within a year or so.

I thought have the press tell it, only Black men leave their families, abandon babies, turn both a blind eye and deaf ear to their children.

Why no national curiosity? Is the real story not very pretty? Not a G-rated Disney version of Bed-Knobs and Broomsticks? I guess digging into why Michael and his sisters have — at best — a strained relationship with their pops, is something we just don’t want to talk about for a number of reasons. The inexistent relationship the kids maintains with dad…. Is not a story,. It’s a non story, bad PR, not a face they want to put on this wholesome All-American portrait.

I believe mainstream White America, would rather not confront, forget explore — the details of the elder Mr. Phelps, it might not contribute to the making of another Great White Hope. White family failure is something America refuses to talk about, White dads, who turn their backs on their children, only sons even, as in the Phleps case, is off limits, not up for discussion.

Why, it contradicts the propaganda, the preferred face White America likes to walk around with. Now, I thought when Phelps referred to his swim coach Bob Bowman as being like a dad for him, which would open the floodgates for inquiring minds.

But no, it’s as if the media wants to keep this kid pristine and polished for Wall Street, maybe even Hollywood. Of course the other version of this ally-oop assist is the American media is engaged in damage control, PR, a cover-up of sorts.

They want to help paint a picture of Phelps as an All-American kid with no real-life flaws which are only suppose to plague Black kids and, to point out the obvious void in the family portrait dad is not apart of not merely just the photo, but also not apart of his kids life.

What motivates the press to be abiding, sympathetic, empathetic to the Phelps family, but with most Black Athletes intrusive and detached…adopting a Paparazzi approach of…..inquiring minds want to know…what creates this climate of yellow journalism?

The endless quest this nation has for white sports heroes. Real men.

Young Mr. Phelps is about to join an e-lite fraternity, the Gamma – Whamma, – Hamma GWH, the Great White Hopes…..Tom Brady, Brett Favre, Mark McGwire, John Lynch, Matt Ryan, Elway, Aikman, Bird, these cats…..can do no wrong.

All they have to do is not screw up to the point it’s not fixable — and sponsors, coaches and fans, of the same racial persuasion — will don the cheerleader outfits and megaphones to help them along the path to the Hall of Fame sports immortality….

Why, because race matters in America…..

Had Phelps been Black, how many times would he have been quarried about his absentee dad? How his mom made it? Asked a thousand times if dad’s departure left him angry, because after all, most Black males are angry….right?

Michael should be angry….and refuses to discuss the cold relationship he maintains with his dad – who did not show up in Beijing to support his son. Might it be Michael Phelps is angry? Angry at a dad who….walked the blank out, and stopped participating in rearing his offspring?

Maybe he swims to “show his dad” a fact which would be a front page story if that’s the case, but the mainstream established press….knows better than to ask those types of question. Sports writers understand they have an obligation to promote this kid as a damn near flawless Aquaman, who hales from a perfect home and perfect neighborhood.

Here’s the kicker, Phelps’ dad — a retired State Trooper, and I’d venture to say a Republican, who most likely voted for Little Lord Flat-Bush, and will pull the lever for Sen. John McBush…. The family values men…

Maybe this guy can relate to McBush, who left his wife after she suffered major injuries in a car accident — she lost four inches of height and hooked up with the firewater heiress he’s milking and bilking today….

Nonetheless, there’s no story here.