Tuesday, September 18, 2007

"Missed it by that Much..."

On this week's HBO’s Real Sports, Donovan McNabb the Philadelphia Eagle quarterback who also happens to be black, said that race plays a part in the public perception of quarterbacks in the NFL. Here’s what he told interviewer James Brown:

"There's not that many African-American quarterbacks, so we have to do a little bit extra. Because the percentage of us playing this position, which people didn't want us to play ... is low, so we do a little extra. I pass for 300 yards, our team wins by seven, 'Ah, he could've made this throw, they would have scored if he did this.'"

Of course, this tune is different than the one he was singing some 4-5 years ago in the wake of the Rush Limbaugh/ESPN dust-up when he was wondering why people always had to make an issue of race.

But, you know, that’s not even what we want to focus on – that’s not the reason for this post. This post is to acknowledge a missed opportunity on the part of Beers with Demo and an even bigger missed opportunity on the part of the broadcast crew of Monday Night Football.

Last night, we debated posting on this but declined because it was getting late and there were many ships to be built early the following day and, etc., etc., lame excuses all considering McNabb’s HBO comments which were made public the following day. A perfect opportunity to get out ahead of the curve was blown for want of getting a good night sleep. Sheesh.

Anyway, this post now being a day late and a dollar short was to be on the subject of what WASN’T addressed in that broadcast booth. During the 3rd quarter of last night’s highly un-entertaining game between the Eagles and Redskins, Charles Barkley (Sir Charles!), joined Ron Jaworski, Tony Kornheiser and Mike Tirico. As everyone knows Charles is never afraid to speak his mind and it’s this candor that makes the TNT studio show for their NBA games the greatest studio show of all-time.

The 4 of them were in kibbutz mode and the subject happened to be Philly fans and specifically how rough they could be on their own sports stars. Precise to this was what was perceived as harsh treatment of Donovan McNabb who is coming off a serious knee injury last year and who has not played well in the Eagles first two games which have both been losses. This situation is compounded by the fact that after he went down with the injury last year, back-up Jeff Garcia who is white (Garcia, white? O.K., Hispanic… but he looks Irish, dammit!) went 6-1 with the team and led them to the playoffs.

Later in the conversation, it was noted that the Philly fans love(d) Ron Jaworski (white) but had a contentious relationship with Charles Barkley (black). Barkley then said something to the effect that Indianapolis fans loved Peyton Manning (white) even before winning the Super Bowl last year much more than Philly fans loved McNabb (black) even though in Barkley’s opinion, McNabb had been the more accomplished quarterback to that point.

“So.. why do you think this is…?” “Uhh, oh”, was our thought. Oh-boy… Are they going to go there? Oh no they’re not. Careful fellas. Its all set up for them. Its all right there.

The camera showed the 4 of them… they were looking at the monitors silently, staring down at their feet and shifting their weight back and forth somewhat uncomfortably. At one point, it even looked like Kornheiser snuck a glance at Barkley as if to say, “So, Chuck... are you doing this or am I?” One could cut the tension with a knife. At that point, we’re nearly screaming at the T.V. “Do it….! Somebody please do it…! For the love of all that is right, somebody please roll that grenade out there and then… let’s see who jumps on it! Pleeeeeease…!”.

And then as slowly as the momentum and tension had built it dissipated just that quickly as one of the 4 (can’t remember who) saved all of sports-talk listening America from hearing about this 24/7 for the next week by saying, “… well, you know, those Philly fans are just really tough”, followed by an extremely relieved chorus of “… yeah, yeah… boy, you’re right, they sure are tough on their own.”

Wow. Potential meltdown narrowly averted. The opportunity to call out the fans of an entire major metropolitan city as a bunch of racists had just gone by the boards. Whew. That was close... We now return you to your regularly-scheduled bland, boring NFL football game.... As we said, missed opportunities all around last night.

Oh well. Its late. Time for bed.

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