COMMENTARY | Who am I to question the armchair lessons in race relations given by an ex-NFL wide receiver? Uh, someone with any measure of common sense -- that's who.
In the phone interview, Owens gave his two cents worth about the sideline outburst of the Dallas Cowboys' Dez Bryant last Sunday. Bryant was seen berating coaches and teammates after the Cowboys' 31-30 loss to the Detroit Lions. Bryant became so animated that veteran tight end Jason Witten eventually had to get into the face of the young wide out to quell the situation. Some are now calling Bryant a selfish prima donna -- a la Terrell Owens -- while Bryant chalks it all up to his passion for the game.
For Owens, the answer to why Bryant has received so much negative media attention is as simple as black and white.
"I don't want to say it but I do wonder if race plays a part in the double standard," Owens said. "Why is [Tom] Brady treated one way, and Dez another?"
Owens, of course, is referring to the sideline rant of Tom Brady that made headlines after the "Golden Boy" was less-than-pleased with the New England Patriots' young group of wide receivers dropping passes in the Pats' Week 2 victory against the New York Jets.
Owens added, "Why is Tom Brady showing passion when he screams at players, but Dez is out of control?"
At first glance most people may just assume Owens is trying to promote his latest reality show "Wide Receivers Say the Darnedest Things," but I'll admit that T.O. seems to have a point here -- assuming we completely ignore the existence of white quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Phillip Rivers, both of whom are routinely taken to task over their sideline outbursts and in-game demeanor.
Cutler was the centerpiece of a very similar story last season when he unloaded on his offensive lineman J'Marcus Webb -- an incident in which Cutler shoved Webb as the two were leaving the field. In the USA Today story that followed the incident, writer Simon Samano accused Cutler of throwing tantrums and being whiny before ending the piece implying that it was time someone went off on Cutler for his poor play.
Cutler invoked Bryant's "passion for the game" clause as well when he said, "I'm trying to win football games, trying to get first downs. When we're not doing the little things the right way consistently, I'm going to say something. If they want a quarterback that doesn't care, they need to get somebody else."
My memory is a little fuzzy, but I don't think anyone ever heard Jim McMahon's indignation about people only having a problem with Cutler because he's white. I wrote a story earlier this season citing a double-standard existed between Brady and Cutler's sideline mannerisms, but race was never even a thought that entered my mind.
I take that back, color does play a factor in this debate, but it isn't about black and white, it's about gold and silver.
The reason Cutler, Phillips, Bryant or Owens never got the benefit of the doubt when it became a choice between their perceived passion or selfishness is because they never won anything. Brady can scream at players and get away with more because, when he gives them the finger, there is a diamond-encrusted Super Bowl ring attached to it.
I would also direct Owens to the very verbal Ray Lewis, who was not exactly reserved when voicing his displeasure with anyone. Given the off-the-field kerfuffle he got himself into during Super Bowl weekend in 2000, it would have been very easy for the media to make a big deal about every one of his more animated sideline antics. But Lewis is a two-time Super Bowl champion who earned the respect of everyone he ever player with, which cannot be said about Owens.
However, I will say it is nice to finally see the race card being used by someone other than ESPN's Jemele Hill, who has become known for having that card holstered so well she could somehow make something as innocuous as a coach's fourth quarter time out become a civil rights issue. It's 2013. The need to make every single debate go back to skin color is a cop-out that glosses over the real culprit of me-first athletes wanting to place blame everywhere but where it belongs.
Cutler, Owens, Rivers and Bryant all need to shut up and win something before they should ever expect to be given the leeway of a champion.
Dalton Russell has covered the Chicago Bears in print and online media since 1998. He lives just outside the shadow of the iconic architecture of Soldier Field.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Terrell Owens
- Jay Cutler
- Tom Brady
- Dez Bryant