NFL Television Is Still Experiencing A Major “Black” Out

By Ralph Cooper
Updated: July 27, 2005

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HOUSTON — Many Black people are excited about the 2005 National Football League season. Well , I’m not among the group!

Sure the games will be great. Sure we’ll see some great plays from the many stars in the NFL. Remembering when the NFL put a predominantly white product on the field, I’m thrilled to see the many Black faces on the field as players and the sidelines as coaches. There is a degree of Black ownership also in the NFL.

Black people are doing things they have never done before. Condoleeza Rice is Secretary of State under President George Bush. If memory serves me right General Colin Powell held the same position before he resigned.

Former Texas Southern University head football coach and athletic director Dr. Rod Paige is a member of the Bush Cabinet in education. I’m Black and proud because they are Black!

We have Black people in this nation accomplishing many other firsts. They are CEOs in some of the largest corporations. Oprah Winfrey is setting records in broadcasting. Bill Cosby did the same earlier. As a group of people, Black people are setting records spending money as consumers.

Attorney William Gary and four-time world heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield own a cable television station. Robert and Sheila Johnson have purchased teams in the National Basketball Association and the Womens National Basketball Association.

Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods can’t count the money they’ve made in endorsements. Don King took promoting boxing to another newspaper and picked up a newspaper in the process.All are Black! I’m excited!

Now back to why I’m not completely excited about the upcoming NFL season. I just got the list of what will happen to Monday Night Football when it moves from ABC to ESPN in 2006. Al Michaels will remain with Monday Night Football. He has been with ABC since 1976.

Bob Costas will be the studio host for NBC’s return to the NFL on Sunday Nights in 2006. John Madden will also join NBC’s Sunday Night games in 2006. Joe Theismann will join Michaels on the ABC Monday Night Football broadcasts.

It is great to see people of color like Mike Wilborn, John Saunders, Stephen A.Smith, and many others on the airwaves of ESPN constantly. But being one who can remember being the only Black in the pressbox of some of the biggest football games before the ESPN era, I think it is a sad to see racism at its best in regard to keeping Blacks out of the play-by-play positions in pro football, baseball and basketball.

There is a degree of intergration , but racism is still evident. If the executives of these broadcasting efforts would look at Hall of Fame baseball player Joe Morgan and his broadcasting during Major League Baseball Broadcasts they would see Black people can do great in this industry. The “good old boy system” needs to be flushed down the toilet.

Monday and Sunday Night Football broadcasts have to include Blacks in key roles. Don’t tell me you can’t find qualified Blacks to fill the positions. Interview some Blacks to sit next to Michaels and Costas. Look at the leadership ability of James Brown on the Fox NFL studio broadcasts.

The NFL, NBC, and ESPN have to be held accountable. This is 2005. This is not 1960 or 1990. We are talking broadcasting football. Black people have proven they are worthy broadcasters. All they need is a chance and 2006 would be a great time to start!