The Michael Irvin Experiment

If you happened to be listening to The Dan Patrick Show on ESPN Radio or caught the report from The Big Lead, then you know that apparently, former All-Pro wide receiver, experienced drug (ab)user, current retarded NFL studio analyst, and black man, has pulled a Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder.

During a discussion of the Cowboys-Colts game last Sunday, specifically the play of new Dallas QB and Daisy Duke heart-throb Tony Romo, Irvin reach deep into experience as an NFL player and analyst to come up with the this explanation for Romo's athleticism:

“… [there must be] some brothers in that line somewhere … (laughs) somewhere there are some brothers … I don’t know who saw what, where …. [maybe] his great, great, great, great Grandma ran over in the hood or something went down … (more laughs)”
You can listen to the clip here (it's the 6th link down), at least until ESPN buries the evidence.

I don't know if Irvin should or will get fired, suspended, reprimanded over this, but I can't wait to see the fall out, or lack of it. The reaction to this will be very telling and the situation is the perfect petri dish in which to determine if the media - both ESPN and everyone else - is upholding a double standard when it comes to racists statements.

This isn't about whether or not slave owners bred their slaves to create superior physical specimens. Suggesting that is what got Jimmy The Greek fired and vilified nearly 20 years ago. For me, it's about perpetuating stereotypes and even worse, taking something away from accomplished athletes by turning it into a biology conversation. What Irvin said, unintentionally or not, turned Romo's success into genetics instead of the countless hours of work he has undoubtedly logged to get where he is today. This is the same crap as when Larry Bird was always referred to as a "smart player" while Dr. J was a "great athlete."

The fact of the matter is, some of these guys can run faster and jump higher than others. Some of them are black, some are not. Some people are tireless workers, while others rely on physical gifts. But in the end, everyone you see on the field on Saturday and Sunday, or the basketball court or baseball diamond, is a phenomenal athlete that got where they are through a ton of sweat.

So Michael Irvin saying yet another dumb thing, is in essence insulting Romo's effort and his family. Maybe Romo's great-great-great grandma did "pull one of them studs out of the barn" but maybe she didn't and get this: it's possible that great athletic genes can come from white people too.

I think the thing that gets me really fired up about this - aside from Irvin being a jackass - is that I don't expect anything to happen to Irvin. And I suspect if Dan Patrick had said the same thing, he would have faced serious consequences. The idea that it's OK to saying something about a race because you are of that race, is ridiculous. And for Irvin, it's irresponsible. But I guess not any more irresponsible than the hookers and crack. So there's that.

So get ready for nothing to happen. But if there is backlash, you can bet U alum/apologist Dan LeBatard will be right there to explain why it was OK for Irvin to say what he said.


Anonymous said...

doublenicks, I definitely think reasonable people could differ on whether Irvin crossed the line. But I don't think it was any more offensive than saying something is "gay." Admittedly, I am trying to monitor my usage of that characterization too.

Irvin was making a convoluted satire on how Black quarterbacks are characterized as "athletic." Tony Romo is an athletic quarterback, therefore he must be Black. I don't think it necessarily demeans me or any other Black person to discuss all of my characteristics. There are indeed genetically and environmentally induced characteristics to me. Balanced, open forums are hard to come by, but if you happen to be in one, say whatever you want. I think that part of the reason I wasn't outraged at the comment was because he was talking to DP. Mike said something silly. DP giggled and checked him as necessary. That's fine with me. I don't want political correctness, I want balance.

Anonymous said...

Also, doublenicks, I posted this sentiment on my blog but just in case you never go back there again, I wanted to share my take on the Jimmy the Greek thing. I was a kid when Jimmy the Greek made his infamous comments. Even as a kid, I knew that what he said was 100% correct. I have always thought it unfortunate that he was maligned the way he was. There is definitely a double standard. I can't deny that.

I am definitely sensitive to the fact that the media should play a role in not perpetuating stereotypes. It's not fair to single out Irvin when you could analyze all 24 hours of ESPN programming for cultural inappropriateness. But like I said, I prefer a balanced forum. I understand that it might not be a smooth journey, but I think the goal makes it worthwhile.

doublenicks said...

Balanced forum . . . I agree with that sentiment 100 percent. I don't want to sanitize the air waves but I do want Irvin to deal with the same outrage as Steve Young would have (speaking of which, did his great-great-great-grandmother pull one of them studs out of the barn or is he just one of those athletically gifted Mormons?). I actually wanted to point out that what Jimmy the Greek said wasn't factually incorrect but I was having a hard time figuring out how to write it without sounding like I was a raging bigot. In other news, if I never heard Irvin again, it would be too soon. So there's that.