Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Turning of the Cheek

At the risk of being dragged out of my warm bed by angry, knuckle-dragging Mulletmen and being subjected to listening to Nickelback or Daughtry or some such dreck nonstop for a day or so, I cannot pass up the chance to pick at the carcass of last week's NFL Draft (Wow has it been one week already? Is Mel Kiper Jr's helmet hair still in place? Those questions were both rhetorical so feel free to stop trying to find a current photo of MKJ in an attempt to answer #2.)Hey - before we go any further click onto the Nickelback link for a second. OK, is it just me or is the concept of "All Nickelback Radio" incredibly frightening?

Earlier this week the New York Yankees were honored by President Obama for their 2009 World Series win. The guys on this year's team who were also on last year's team brought the WS Trophy by the White House to meet America's #1 White Sox fan. Apparently in a moment destined to raise her head above the cultural tree line if not forever than at least for the uncomfortably foreseeable future, Assistant General Manager Jean Afterman lobbed a pretty funny line at President Obama while he, along with Manager Joe Girardi, was holding the WS Trophy. The C-I-C gives as good as he gets and he responded to Ms. Afterman's zinger by saying, "Two words Jean: Javy Vazquez." He laughed. Girardi and Dave Eiland stood in the East Room weeping.

Ms. Afterman's comments - other than making her public profile a great deal more public than it is as the Assistant General Manager - were innocuous. No malice implied and none inferred.

A more curious case (as we meander back to the NFL) is that of the fellow who is the General Manager of the Miami Dolphins. Earlier this week Jeff Ireland issued an apology to Dez Bryant, a wide receiver from Oklahoma State University who the Dallas Cowboys drafted in Round One last Thursday night. Ireland's apology stemmed from having asked Bryant - during a pre-draft interview - whether Bryant's mother is a prostitute. As espn.com noted, "The background of Bryant and his mother was widely reported prior to the draft. Angela was only 15 when Dez was born, and she served time in jail for selling crack cocaine." Apparently however she has never been arrested for or charged with prostitution. And unless I missed the purpose of last week's exercise altogether, the Dolphins were contemplating employing Dez Bryant - not his mom. Thus, other than testing how to offend a young man with a top-notch "Yo Momma!" insult, it remains a mystery to me why Mr. Ireland even asked the question.

Dez Bryant is a 21 year-old kid. Displaying remarkable poise for one so young, he resisted the urge to hit Mr. Ireland very hard in the face, which likely would have ruined any chance he had of playing in Miami altogether. He kept his cool. He did so through gnashed teeth but to his credit he did so. "No, my mom is not a prostitute," Bryant told Yahoo! Sports. "I got mad -- really mad -- but I didn't show it. I got a lot of questions like that: Does she still do drugs? I sat and answered all of them."

Having been outed by Yahoo! Sports, Ireland did what we the people of these United States do when we act like louts: he cobbled together a half-assed pseudo-apology. After calling Bryant to apologize - or to explain that at birth his brain was replaced by a half-eaten ostrich egg so he is not responsible for what he says or does - Ireland's public statement on the incident came across a tad more "F** off!" than "My Bad!"- at least to my ear. "My job is to find out as much information as possible about a player that I'm considering drafting. Sometimes that leads to asking in-depth questions. Having said that, I talked to Dez Bryant and told him I used poor judgment in one of the questions I asked him. I certainly meant no disrespect and apologized to him."

To his credit, Bryant accepted Ireland's facsimile apology. While Bryant plays for the Cowboys, my allegiance to the Giants will prevent me from rooting for his team to experience other than humiliation and heartache but I think I will root for him to have a successful career. He did something that I do not think at age 43 I possess the cool to do - and I know most certainly at age 21 I did not. Hell, I do not feel badly about my own shortcomings. Mike Ditka is a hell of a lot older than I am.

Whether Dez Bryant will succeed or fail in the NFL is a story that remains unwritten. Regardless of how his career turns out, he shall be at the end of it what he is now - and what he has always been: his mother's son. Then. Now.

Forever.

-AK

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