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Make 2022 your best year yet and let this Moon Reading decode your destiny with precise wisdom you can’t find anywhere else!

Tommy Tuberville, Deion Sanders and the subjugation of ‘coach speak’ — Andscape

Get This Before It Disappears!


Get This Before It Disappears!

Make 2022 your best year yet and let this Moon Reading decode your destiny with precise wisdom you can’t find anywhere else!

Former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville parlayed the exploitation of mostly Black athletes into a multi-million dollar coaching career and a foray into politics.

Tuberville seemed to have forgotten the reason for his success last October when he weighed in on the reparations debate and essentially called Black people criminals. His words and the commentaries of other coaches recently shouldn’t be seen as only “coach speak.” This is part of the language of football, but it also subjugates young men in a manner that reduces them to property.

When a racist rant from Georgia-based trainer Mark Taylor went viral, prep and college football entities scrambled to disassociate themselves from him. Glenn Schembechler, the son of famed Michigan coach Bo Schembechler, resigned under fire as Michigan’s assistant recruiting director when a series of controversial tweets which he liked came to light. One of those tweets insinuated that America’s history of systemic racism had a positive effect on Black families:

And yes, slavery and Jim Crow forced the black family to strive and create businesses and cultivate a basis of wealth for themselves and their progeny. A reliance on handouts weakened the lower income black community and still does.

It’s interesting how “handouts” never come to the forefront when people discuss government subsidies to corporations, nor when African Americans are shut out of relief initiatives such as Paycheck Protection Program loans, but that’s a discussion for another day. Racist and classist rhetoric isn’t just part of the language of football, but of the suppressive nature of free and cheap labor.

The views which Schembechler co-signed hit remarkably close to home for me as a South Carolina native. They are similar to the views of John C. Calhoun, who among other things, was a slave owner. Clemson University was built on his former Fort Hill Plantation, which had between 70 and 80 enslaved Black people.

Calhoun, whose name shamefully remains on roadways and parks in South Carolina and even in neighboring Augusta, Georgia, argued that slavery was a “positive good” back in 1837:

But let me not be understood as admitting, even by implication, that the existing relations between the two races in the slaveholding States is an evil. Far otherwise; I hold it to be a good, as it has thus far proved itself to be to both, and will continue to prove so if not disturbed by the fell spirit of abolition. I appeal to facts. Never before has the black race of Central Africa, from the dawn of history to the present day, attained a condition so civilized and so improved, not only physically, but morally and intellectually.

Clemson, with its racist founder and its oft foot-in-mouth coach, is not the only institution that perpetuates, at best, indentured servitude, and at worst, Black players as property. Of course, such a culture creates uneasiness among Black players, as author and former Clemson walk-on Dante Stewart described in his 2021 memoir, “Shoutin’ In The Fire.”

Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell (left) carries the ball as offensive tackle Troy Reddick (right) blocks against LSU on Oct. 26, 2002, at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama.

Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images

There are other former athletes who aren’t afraid to speak truth to power or try to pull triumph from trauma. I spoke with Troy Reddick, one of Tuberville’s former players on Auburn’s undefeated 2004 team, about his former coach’s controversial commentary. Reddick’s thoughts on Tuberville, who only recently made additional inflammatory comments about extremism in the military and teachers at inner-city schools, were determined.

“He finally has a platform and an opportunity to really show who he is as a man, and what he feels about his former players and the communities he’s recruited these players from,” Reddick said. “He has an understanding of how he plans [to benefit] from the existing culture and white supremacy, and he thinks this is something he has earned.”

Beyond the behavior of coaches who masquerade as men of conscience is the reality of how it affects young Black men. In a sport that celebrates machismo, a significant number of its overseers are in the business of denying young people their manhood.

The recent passing of Jim Brown places such concerns in a more compelling light. Brown, arguably the NFL’s best running back of all time, retired at the age of 30 after then-Browns owner Art Modell tried to force Brown to attend training camp rather than finish a movie in which he was appearing. Brown, of course, had the leverage of a successful pro career and potential movie success. Generally, college athletes only have their labor as a weapon.

During the course of our conversation, Reddick outlined the pervasiveness of the mindset that sees players as second-class – or worse. 

“The thought process is consistent from the youth [ranks], through college as well as the pro level – and that is with Black coaches as well,” he said. “They have an understanding of how the game is going to reward them and their role in it, and they want that system to stay in place.”

This adds context to comments made by one of the most beloved, and polarizing, figures in football – Deion Sanders. During a February appearance on the Rich Eisen Show, “Coach Prime” spoke about recruiting players with a decidedly anti-Black flair:

“Quarterbacks are different,” Sanders said. “We want mother, father, you know, dual-parent. We want their kid to be 3.5 [GPA] and up, because he’s got to be smart. No bad decisions off the field, at all, because he has to be a leader of men. It’s so many different attributes in what we look for.”

As for linemen? “Single momma, trying to get it. He’s on free lunch. I mean, I’m talking about just trying to make it. He’s trying to rescue momma. Like, momma barely made the flight,” Sanders said.

Sanders’ interpretation of Calhoun-style politics, or perhaps the musings of Daniel Moynihan, have been a thorn in the side of Black parenting and, in all honesty, Black relationships for years. Racist stereotyping says that Black fathers are deadbeats and Black mothers are “welfare queens.” History says that Black people have overcome the ideologies and the violence of people like Calhoun in the most adverse of circumstances.

This should be the story of football – young men who have overcome impossible odds to make it to the college ranks, let alone the pros. Instead, we are forced to hear gibberish from state-appointed demigods who offer little beyond profanity and respectability politics.

This is why it’s important to rebuke anti-Black narratives that attack Black players and their families. If we fail to wipe that nastiness from the face of the earth, we not only fail in our duty to tell the truth about the past, we also do a disservice to the futures of our children and their children’s children.

Ken J. Makin is a freelance writer and the host of the Makin’ A Difference podcast. Before and after commentating, he’s thinking about his wife and his sons.


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