Crime and Punishment

 “I am not a crook”

Tom Brady is fighting tooth and nail in federal court to get his suspension wiped away.  Not reduced, but totally gone.  Much like Lance Armstrong, Tommy Boy has denied ANY wrongdoing.  Even after a ton of text messages with an equipment manager and footballs below the acceptable PSI range, Touchdown Jesus is still using the Shaggy defense (“it wasn’t me”) and soooo many football fans and analysts are buying it.

On the flip side, Greg Hardy had his domestic violence case dismissed on appeal after his accuser refused to cooperate with the prosecution.  This lack of cooperation conveniently occurred after a civil settlement was reached with Hardy for an undisclosed amount of money.  Read what you want into this, but there is definitely a cloud of uncertainty surrounding this situation.  As usual, Roger Goodell decided Hardy still needed to be punished by the league and dropped a 10 game hammer on the defensive end.  He appealed and the suspension and it was dropped to 4 so he’ll be hitting the field for the Cowboys in week 5.  Hardy never kicked and screamed for the league to go to zero.  This guy was suspended by the Panthers after game 1 last season but never bashed the team or raised hell about being persecuted.

This is another example of how race creates a different reality.  White men, in particular, refuse to take an “L”.  The idea of getting caught AND punished is so foreign to so many of these “Golden Boys” that they’re blindsided by accountability.  Mark McGwire appears in a Congressional hearing but deflects questions by “not talking about the past” even though the entire circus is about the past.  He’s now a hitting coach and soon to be manager in Major League baseball.  Armstrong lied to every interviewer and burned several friends for years before he finally admitted to doping.  He’s got a reality show and white folks love to wear those little yellow wristbands.  Big Ben Roethlisberger has been accused of rape twice but only served a 4 game suspension.  And Pete Rose, the Don of the Who Me? Mafia, is still telling the truth at a snail’s pace but has the backing of Baseball Fandom for reinstatement.

When you look at most black athletes, they file the obligatory appeal or negotiate a reduced punishment.  Some are even able to fight for their innocence.  But rarely will you find them fighting a tide of circumstantial evidence.  Most accept the punishment, make a statement of apology and promise to make better decisions.

The Reason:  Black people have been dealing with punishment with little-to-no evidence for a very long time.

The black community, in general, is used to get the short end of things.  They aren’t surprised by police brutality, unequal pay or unfair treatment by the media.  And they are damn sure not shocked by being treated unfairly by employers.  This is a part of the “conversation” many mothers and fathers of color have with their kids.  It’s not right, but necessary.

Ray Rice has never cried foul after his season-long suspension…..he just wants to find a job, make some money and stay under the radar.  Adrian Peterson voiced an opinion about NFL contracts but was quickly jerked back in line by the very team that left him twisting when he was Public Enemy No. 1 last year.  Even Michael Vick is STILL trying to get a job even though he went to prison for his crimes.

There’s a recurring theme that black athletes must accept punishment and accept it with humility.   White athletes are allowed to be defiant and “defend their reputation” at all costs.  Probably because white athletes are thought to be inherently honest and black athletes are thought to be suspect and too flashy to be trusted.

Don’t let these professional leagues fool you…..they’re just like the rest of society.