Taking Down First Take: Jim Brown Really?
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith made it clear he was “deeply offended” by Jim Brown’s comment on TV that he would not have called Kobe Bryant and other top black athletes of today to the superstar group in the 60’s that listened to (and supported) Ali’s reasons about why he would not fight in Viet Nam. Stephen A. Smith made it clear that he could not question the integrity or political opinions of the best living football player, Jim Brown, though he disagreed with what Jim Brown said. In ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith’s opinion despite his brands Kobe would have showed. Stephen A. Smith did make the point that it would be extremely risky for multimillionaire Kobe Bryant to speak out on anything political because of his brands.
Brown was never reluctant to speak out for social justice. He put what was right before his career, before his “brand”. Yet, Brown still is revered not just as a great football player but respected as a great man.
Brown pointed out that the group of athletes (and others) that came together in Cleveland Ohio to support Muhammad Ali (Bill Russell, Jim Brown, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Mayor Carl Stokes, Walter Beach, Bobby Mitchell, Sid Williams, Curtis McClinton, Willie Davis, Jim Shorter and John Wooten) would not have included many of today’s top black athletes. These people came together not to support a racial idea or for racial reasons, but to support Ali’s refusal to fight in Viet Nam.
Brown just stated the obvious. Today’s black athletes represent major brands and the money they make from the brands is more important to them than social issues. Michael Jordan is the king of the brands. He even refused to support a democrat against noted racist Jesse Helms because: “Republicans buy tennis shoes too.”
Four wars have gone down in the era of the Generation X athletes, the Michael Jordan era in the NBA, and I can’t remember one superstar speaking out against any of the wars. Even though they are multimillionaires and in reality have nothing at risk because they and their family are financially set for generations they said nothing about the first and second gulf wars, the Afghanistan invasion and proposed 25 year occupation and the Drone War which is an unconstitutional and impeachable war waged largely in Yemen and other mid eastern countries. Name one athlete who has uttered a word about this? Or should a say tweeted? They are a pathetic generation dedicated to themselves.
Two days later ESPN in defense of their brands which are the same that support the athletes did another hit piece on Jim Brown. On the 30 for 30 show “Youngstown Boys” that profiled Maurice Clarett, the Ohio State star who faded away for incomprehensible reasons and never reached his potential as a runner, out of nowhere blamed Jim Brown’s statements about the racial prejudice behind the sordid affair, as the cause of Clarett’s fall from grace and the subsequent loss of his chance at a professional career. This subtle dig at Brown furthered their agenda to promote today’s brand driven athletes over the political, economic and social justice fighters that were the generation behind them. By lowering Brown’s status Jordan’s and Kobe’s multimillion dollar ads were wiped clean of the blemish of social irresponsibility and the stains of selfishness that these athlete’s embody. As the two Americas grow further apart wealthy black athletes (who through their ability can make the leap from the impoverished, invisible part of America to the Goldman Sachs, Barack Obama and Corporate CEO America where you fly on private planes, land in private air terminals, travel by limousine and live in gated communities where never a discouraging word is heard) are now part of the establishment, the military industrial complex, the security state and have little use for the rest of the 99%. Yes they need them to see their games, and buy their crappy 400 dollar tennis shoes, but speak out for higher taxes, a better schools system, health care for all, a higher minimum wage, never gonna happen. Very few people can make the leap from poverty to the ruling class like black athletes. Social climbing in America has stopped. It is virtually impossible to move up in class. In the 60’s that leap did not blind them to reality, today with the death of the fairness act and very little actual news anywhere, opinions taking the place of facts and little to no liberal voices on the public stage, it is very easy to hide and “protect my brands” as so many do. Pathetic. Also I want to point out that these athletes gathered to support opposition to the Viet Nam war. The media has done a great job of painting Martin Luther King as a Black rights activist. Most people today would have no clue that he connected the dots and opposed the Viet Nam war for the same reasons that he fought for social justice. Today’s superstars probably don’t even know their is a relationship between the two issues. So good job Stephen A. Smith your brands are safe.