We'll go ahead and file that one under "headlines I didn't anticipate typing today."
It's a bizarre statement. It's a bizarre subset of people to hate, even if you insist on hating a group of people. And it's a bizarre thing to say to an African-American athlete from Notre Dame when meeting him for the first time.
But according to Tim Brown(notes), that's exactly what Al Davis did. Brown was interviewed on WCNN in Atlanta, and here's what he had to say about the first time he met Al. From SportsRadioInterviews.com (audio is available at the link):
“Meeting Al [Davis] was pretty unique. I found out five or ten minutes after my first practice there that he hated African-American athletes from Notre Dame. And they literally told me that. They literally told me that because we’re known for using our education more than our athletic ability that he thought that I would be one of these guys that would basically take the money and run. I don’t know if that was a ploy to get me amped up, but it certainly worked.”
I have no idea how to respond to that.
First, I guess I should note Al Davis's history in racial hiring practices. He hired Tom Flores, the NFL's first Latino head coach. He hired Art Shell, the first African-American head coach in the NFL's modern era. He drafted Eldridge Dickey, the first African-American quarterback taken in the first round by any NFL or AFL team. Al Davis is pretty well-respected across the board when it comes to making racial progress in the NFL. So I am not saying that Al Davis is a racist. I am not saying that the only thing missing from the picture above is the white hood.
But hating black people from Notre Dame? What? Why? Who else does Al hate, left-handed cornerbacks from Wyoming? Green-eyed atheist centers from the MAC?
Notre Dame is known for having higher academic standards for their athletes than most other major football universities, and maybe Al thinks that it's the place of African-Americans to pursue athletic interests, as opposed to scholarly ones.
Or maybe Tim Brown's right, and Al just wanted to fire him up with some good old-fashioned race-baiting. I couldn't tell you. All I can tell you is that I don't think Al Davis is the kind of guy who has any tiny bit of racially-motivated malice in his heart, but that is a weird, weird quote.
Gracias, Ben Maller.