The Old Heads’ Chronicles, Vol. VI

By Michael-Louis Ingram
Updated: February 5, 2009

From the Indians who welcomed the pilgrims And to the buffalo who once ruled the plains Like the vultures circling beneath the dark clouds Looking for the rain Looking for the rain

“Winter in America”

(Written by Gil-Scott Heron and Brian ‘Stick’ Jackson)

PHILADELPHIA — As we step into Black History Month, it has become a mélange of those that endure and those whose indulge.

Kick back and meditate whilst I elucidate…

The Cleveland Indians can spend all the money they want and sign every significant free agent out there; they will never again see a World Series until that disgusting and insulting Chief Wahoo logo disappears from existence.

In spite of the fact Larry Doby brought humanity to baseball’s American League 62 years ago, Cleveland’s ass-backwards mentality to perpetrate and perpetuate a racist caricature as representative of its love for the Grand Old Game is clear evidence of a team creating its own karma; and the arrogance which comes in knowing a simple change of appearance would evoke a new set of possibilities dooms their fans to a purgatory of mediocrity – because their team’s front office can’t elevate its mental wherewithal beyond playing to the basest of stereotypes.

Unfortunately, those vultures who now circle the locker rooms and infest press conferences and studios now feed off the carrion of careers made and destroyed by themselves; and have spread like bed bugs in a Roach Motel; their credentials check in, but their ethics have long checked out;

Just like the cities staggered on the coastline; Living in a nation that just can’t stand much more…Like the forest buried beneath the highway Never had a chance to grow – Never had a chance to grow And now it’s winter Winter in America Yes and all of the healers have been killed Or sent away, yeah But the people know, the people know It’s winter Winter in America And ain’t nobody fighting ‘Cause nobody knows what to say Save your soul, Lord knows From Winter in America…

The recent debacle in naming the new class to the Pro Football Hall of Fame is a classic example of those ethics long gone.

While the new members: Randall McDaniel, Bruce Smith, Derrick Thomas, Ralph Wilson, Rod Woodson and (finally!) Bob Hayes are most deserving, the logic in those who did not make the cut is baffling.

Wide receiver Cris Carter, who saw his protégé, Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. come of age in the playoffs and Super Bowl XLIII, has now been shut out of Canton for the second year in a row.

When he retired, Carter was second all-time in pass receptions (before being passed by Marvin Harrison this season) Now some of those same guys who sniffed his crotch while he was playing are ridin’ dirty on his ass in denying him Canton.

All things being equal (eventually) Carter will get in – but you can’t tell me Carter didn’t believe he wasn’t going in front of a podium to say ‘thank you’ last Saturday!

And what of Shannon Sharpe of Savannah State University? Only the best tight end in football this side of Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates when he hung them up, the loquacious Sharpe played far better than he talked – but saw no payoff in a selection to Canton.

Meanwhile, Tennessee State’s Richard Dent and Claude Humphrey, defensive stalwarts whose damage done on the gridiron encompassed two decades, were also ignored in the decision – making process.

My colleague, Tony Mc Clean, hit this nail dead on the head on his radio show, “The Weekend Sports Rap” on this past weekend when he mentioned the political logjam that has been created by the sports writers.

“Any criterion for determining ascension into the Hall of Fame has been totally corrupted,” suggests McClean. “It’s now become more like Major League Baseball in that there seems to be no clear pattern of reinforcing who dominated at their position, overall statistics, comparison stats versus their peers who are already in, and so forth.”

The Constitution…a noble piece of paper; With free society Struggled but it died in vain And now Democracy is ragtime on the corner Hoping for some rain Looks like it’s hoping Hoping for some rain

As said Constitution reminds me that I am only three – fifths of a white person (ha!) we are 185 days removed from the American Congress apologizing for slavery – after profiting from it for generations.

But that apology was never made public or announced/proclaimed to such an extent every newspaper or radio station had it on its front page or talking about it to any length. CNN, ABC and every other Alphabet Soup pimp remain MIA.

And those days of slavery reverberate in our culture when I watch the Combine of the Draft and men get weighed, their teeth checked, hand shoved up the ass, how fast can you run, nigger? How high can you jump?

Before we give you all this money, have you been fucking any white women? Have you been dreaming about fucking any white women? ‘Cause you know we will find out – and we will stop every team from hiring your Black ass!

And Barack Hussein Obama putting his hand on Abe Lincoln’s bible ain’t gonna change that – boy!

And I see the robins; perched in barren treetops Watching last-ditch racists marching across the floor But just like the peace sign that vanished in our dreams Never had a chance to grow…never had a chance to grow And now it’s winter It’s winter in America And all of the healers have been killed Or been betrayed Yeah, but the people know, people know It’s winter, Lord knows It’s winter in America And ain’t nobody fighting Cause nobody knows what to save Save your souls From Winter in America

The winter of seasons for many of the NFL’s retired players is not one of dormancy and hibernation. As these great men and women (all props to the wives and loved ones) who tend to, bear and share their burdens, a groundswell to seek further compensation is in motion.

Certain factions of retired player advocacy groups see the cprima facie reality of the $28.1 million adjudicated in 2008 as a potential source for going after the parasites who not only stole their money, but their dignity.

As the NFL begins to clear its throat in crying poverty, I’m thinking of the old gasoline commercial whose catch line was:

“You can pay me now, or – pay me later.”

And now it’s winter Winter in America And all of the healers done been killed or sent away Yeah, and the people know, people know It’s winter Winter in America…

Ultimately, the effort to stifle independent voices must be met head on with equal fervor. With the Internet becoming the great equalizer, the move will be to discredit rather than acknowledge; to invalidate because of who you heard the details from rather than associate it with where you heard it from first; which is why we will not let the truth…

Get in the way of a real story.

And ain’t nobody fighting Cause nobody knows what to save And ain’t nobody fighting Cause nobody knows, nobody knows And ain’t nobody fighting Cause nobody knows what to save.