That’s So Racism: NFL Edition

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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By ‘Matt Lewis & The News’ guest blogger R.J. Moeller

First Riley Cooper of the Philadelphia Eagles wore a sleeveless lumberjack shirt to a Kenny Chesney concert, and now this equally disturbing news from The Detroit News:

“For Two Lions, racial slurs are friendly banter”

Apparently – and I’m no Ethnic Studies major, so don’t fault me for misinterpreting the reporting here – two adult male NFL teammates enjoy speaking in affectionately derogatory terms to one another while engaging in athletic scrimmages. No need to panic, however, because I would wager a pretty penny that these two rapscallions simply missed the league-mandated “Put-Down Free Zone” laminates hanging up around the Lions’ training facilities.

Their relationship began 10 years ago when Louis Delmas was a volcanic, trash-talking freshman at Western Michigan University.

Tony Scheffler was the big man on campus, a senior with NFL promise. Delmas was the abandoned 17-year-old adjusting to campus life after a rough life in Florida. Scheffler took Delmas under his wing even though the young safety barked at him every time the tight end ran a route.

Their friendship grew over the years, and they remain tight as members of the Lions.

“Hey, cracker,” Delmas often says to Scheffler inside the Lions practice facility.

“How’s my n—–?” Scheffler replies.

Delmas is black. Scheffler is white.

Oh, snap! Didn’t see that one coming, did you?

This Scheffler character better hope and pray that Revered (term used loosely) Al Sharpton, or anyone from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, doesn’t catch wind of his insensitive name-calling. Delmas, on the other hand, can at least rest easy knowing that his “racial slur” wasn’t even bad enough to be bleeped out in the transcripts. All racial slurs are created equal; some more equal than others.

Observant Jews allow more letters in the spelling of God’s name than do American journalists when reporting on the latest use of the N-word in the public square.

This is because entire Pultizer Prize-winning careers are now built around how often one can work the N-word into their reporting about any topic on Yahweh’s green earth. Racism is a serious topic, and using a word like this to verbally attack a person of color is offensive by any standard. But the N-word has become the thing pretend-smart people in the media say to make the rest of us shift uncomfortably in our seats because their own original ideas/thoughts are anything but shift-worthy.

Reporting on a politician using the N-word is a legit story. Reporting on an elected official or pastor or school principal using the N-word or calling someone a “fag” is a legit story.

Letting us know that professional athletes say nasty things to one another – and that these men are still friends and actually enjoy each other’s company outside of work – is tantamount to reporting that two women gossiped about each other to a mutual friend of theirs, but then still met for coffee later that week and frequently commented on “How cute!” the other’s purse was.

The tone of the Detroit News piece, like most reporting I’ve seen on this story, is essentially encouraging us to wring our hands, furrow our brows, and shake our heads in paternalistic, self-righteous disgust.

Delmas concedes these are words that should eventually leave our vocabulary. He is right about that. But for now he continues to use it as a way to bond, as many professional athletes do.

Nice! Now ask Delmas on public record if he thinks F-bombs should be dropped in front of nuns? Or if that potty language he and his friends use should be repeated in front of their grandmothers?

The truth is, I don’t personally know these two players. It sounds like they’re dear friends. It sounds like they have done exactly what everyone from Barack Obama to Oprah to Jesse Jackson has told us to do for the past thirty years: they’ve moved beyond race. Become post-racial. They judge other men by the content of their character, not the color of their skin (or how the words they use within the context of their private friendship impact my own black-hole of emotional narcissism).

Don’t get me wrong: the things that come out of our mouths matter. I’m all about decorum and showing class when (and where) class is called for. But the Training Camp fields of an NFL team are not the places to impose standards concocted by journalists and commentators who either have a political agenda or are reading cue cards written by those who do.

Actual racism is a vile thing. The contemporary “honest dialogue” about race that we’re allegedly having these days is a mind-numbing thing.

R.J. Moeller is a blogger, podcast host and CEO of the media/entertainment company Hashtag Productions LLC

Tags : nfl
Matt K. Lewis