Empathy and kindness isn’t the very best we can do on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. But it’s a very good start.
I’m uncomfortable speaking on matters of race. Not because I’m a white guy who lives in a white neighborhood and whose daily contact with people of color is limited. We’ve lived in racially mixed neighborhoods where I felt the same way.
It’s because I don’t feel qualified. I spend a lot of time telling coaches how to do their jobs, but not how to live their lives. The former is business, the latter is personal, and who am I?
I applauded the peaceful demonstrators last summer, protesting the deaths of George Floyd and others. I didn’t judge anyone who did or didn’t take part. Last Wednesday was sad and inexcusable, yet I feel strongly we need to understand what motivated those folks, not just demand they be punished.
All I can do is listen and walk the proverbial mile with an open mind and heart. Those who know me best will tell you I am judgmental only in print. We need to change our hearts in America. We need to remember we still have it very good in this country and it’s our responsibility to make it better.
America is an idea. It’s also an heirloom. What we do today creates what we leave for our children tomorrow. What we’re doing today isn’t working.
Martin Luther King Jr. makes me proud to be an American. Peaceful Black Lives Matter marchers do the same. The ability to be civil in an uncivil situation is a gift. It should be a beacon.
ESPN.com asked several NBA players to comment on where we are in America, re race relations. The responses were measured, thoughtful and hopeful. Here’s one, from Bulls guard Garrett Temple. He’s vice president of the players association. His father was the first Black man to play basketball at LSU:
First and foremost, get educated. Get educated and learn what white privilege is. Then admit that there is white privilege. And not only have tough conversations with their Black counterparts which will hopefully help educate them, but also take those conversations and bring them to their white friends and family -- especially their children. Because at the end of the day, the ones that will honestly create this change are the kids that are 4 or 5 or 6 years old right now. So make sure that they translate those conversations that they've had with their Black friends to their white friends and family, and hopefully we can get it done from there.
Paul Daugherty: It saddens me to see the state of the nation's capital
I believe Americans want to do good. I think right now, we don’t know how. Our souls need a candle. On this MLK Day, we owe it to each other to stretch a little, attempt selflessness, understand that we are only as good as the way we treat each other. Dr. King gave his life to that belief. We can give a day.
Now, then. . .
THE NFL WEEKEND THAT WAS. . . It was supposed to be 48 hours of quarterback heaven. The most important players in any sport, at any position, would be the difference. Like a lot of assumptions we make about the NFL, it wasn’t that way at all.
Aaron Rodgers was, but Aaron Rodgers is playing his own game right now. It’s a different, better game that no one else is playing. That TD pass to Davante Adams at the goal line? The one where he called the play with his eyes? Against the league’s top-rated defense?
Good luck to the Bucs at Lambeau next weekend.
The other winning QBs were good at managing the game, not bending it to their wills. Tom Brady wasn’t great, but he was worlds better than Drew Brees, and that was the difference. Lamar Jackson had led the Ravens to three points before he was concussed late. From the Buffalo 8, his team down just 10-3, Jackson forced a throw into the middle of the Bills D, that was picked and returned for a touchdown.
Baker Mayfield wasn’t bad, but the Browns aren’t yet good enough to go to Kansas City and win a playoff game. And Chad Henne showed it’s Andy Reid’s system that facilitates winning, as much as who’s running it. And Josh Allen is becoming a star right before our eyes.
If I’d been rooting for any group, it would have been the Bills. Nowhere in the country – with the possible exception of New Orleans – are town and team more closely linked. If you’ve been to Buffalo, you know that, well, it’s not quite somewhere you’d choose to go on vacation. Between November and May, it’s not somewhere you’d choose to go at all. But they love their Bills. The stadium is dated and in the middle of nowhere. The team has spent 20 years breathing the Patriots exhaust. And the fans are there, always. It’d be great if, somehow, this team gave them their first Super win.
THE ROONEY RULE IS BEING IGNORED. Fox News:
The NFL announced in May new policies in hope to increase diversity in the league.
The league requires teams to interview at least two external minority candidates for their head coach roles and at least one minority candidate for a coordinator job, according to NFL.com.
"The NFL is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, which I believe is critical to our continued success," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement at the time. "While we have seen positive strides in our coaching ranks over the years aided by the Rooney Rule, we recognize, after the last two seasons, that we can and must do more. The policy changes made today are bold and demonstrate the commitment of our ownership to increase diversity in leadership positions throughout the league."
Yeah? The league has five new coaches, none Black. Robert Saleh is Muslim. The league had seven GM openings. Five have been filled. None Black. Marvin Lewis doesn’t look to be getting hired anywhere. Eric Bieniemy has to be wondering what, exactly, he has to do.
WHEN JOHN DOWD WAS ON PETE ROSE’S TAIL, most of us regarded him with respect. Dowd was a big baseball fan, and he was motivated, he said, to do right by the game. In that crazy summer of ’89, I talked to Dowd more than once. He struck me as a straight shooter. Maybe he still is.
But then came this, from a story Sunday in the New York Times, about the multitudes trying to score presidential pardons between now and Wednesday at noon. It makes Dowd look grubby, at best:
Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer John M. Dowd has marketed himself to convicted felons as someone who could secure pardons because of his close relationship with the president, accepting tens of thousands of dollars from a wealthy felon and advising him and other potential clients to leverage Mr. Trump’s grievances about the justice system.
Kinda cheapens Dowd's legacy.
BASEBALL LEANS TOWARD UNIVERSAL DH and that’s a good thing. Here in particular, unless you’d rather watch Luis Castillo hit, instead of Aquino, Winker or Castellanos. USA Today:
MLB has proposed implementing a universal DH in exchange for an expanded postseason -- which would generate additional revenue with the extra round of playoffs televised by ESPN -- but the two sides have been at a stalemate.
Most baseball executives still believe there will be a universal DH this season, but unless the union approves an expanded playoff field, it may not happen. MLB is seeking a 14-team playoff field -- two fewer teams than a year ago but four more than their format since 2012.
BECAUSE TV IS MY LIFE. . . on the recommendation of the NY Times “Watching’’ column, we watched two Kenneth Lonergan movies. I’d never heard of the guy, but these were two small wonders. Count on Me stars the always likeable Mark Ruffalo and Laura Linney, in a heartfelt and fragile tale of a brother’s visit to his boyhood home, where his sister still lives. Affecting, proving we don’t need complex plots and stuff getting blown up to be entertained.
Margaret wasn’t quite as good, but still highly watchable. A girl sees a pedestrian hit and killed by a metro bus. The driver is distracted because he’s looking at the girl, and not the red light he runs. She’s guilt-torn, the driver is not. Compelling , human-nature stuff.
BY THE WAY, many, many thanks to the Mobster who suggested I read Niall Williams’ novel, This is Happiness. Wonderfully written, delightful story.
TUNE O’ THE DAY. . . Nothing else suffices today.