Disparities in Media Treatment of Black Atheletes

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7 Most Valuable Player awards. 8 Gold Glove awards
for outfield defense. He is the only player to reach the
‘600-600 club’ – hitting 600 home run and also stealing
600 bases. Yet, Barry Bonds has received torrents of negative
media attention for alleged use of steroids to become
baseball’s #1 home run hitter in history. Fans have
screamed for pitchers to throw at his head to end his
career. Death threats against his family have also occurred.
Even before his alleged steroid use, he was one of the
greatest baseball players. Recently, the MLB Players’ Union
found that owners colluded to keep the now free agent
Bonds out of the league for the 2008 season. Bonds has
had further legal troubles since the FBI is investigating him
for purjury. Recent information has surfaced that Bonds
may have been telling the truth when he stated that he did
not know the steroid known as “the clear” was a steroid.
“The Clear” was not banned and at the time of the grand
jury testimony, it was not deemed an illegal substance by
the Justice Department. At the end of January 2009, the
FBI raided the home of Bonds’ trainer’s mother in law with
20 agents. Attorneys admitted the raid was done in order
to rachet up pressure on Bonds’ trainer to testify against
Bonds in federal court, as he’s repeatedly refused to testify
against Bonds.
Roger Clemens was known as “The Rocket” for his blazing
fastball. He was an elite pitcher that amassed over 300
wins in his career. However, he was also alleged to have
used steroids to improve his career. He was named in the
Mitchell Report that detailed the prevalence of steroids in
baseball. Clemens also allegedly lied to Congress when he
denied using human growth hormone and other anabolic
steroids. The FBI is still investigating possible perjury
charges against Clemens. Yet there has been almost no
media scrutiny of Clemens and no questioning of the
authenticity of his achievements. Fans and the media were
and are willing to believe that Clemens achieved these
accomplishments through hard work, not anabolic assistance.
Yet, many of these same people have demonized
Adam Jones was the 2005 draft pick of the Tennessee
Titans. During the 2007 season, NFL Commissioner Roger
Goodell suspended him for the entire season off the field
legal troubles. Goodell jumped the gun before Jones
received due process in court before suspending him for
the season. He was later traded to the Dallas Cowboys. On
October 14, Commissioner Goodell suspended Jones
again for four games because Jones got into an argument
with his bodyguard at a hotel. The media has frequently
covered every step and misstep of Adam Jones – where
one ESPN anchor said Jones’ suspension was preventing
the NFL from becoming the “National Thug League”.
Commissioner Goodell has shown through his actions that
he will punish black athletes before all the facts are in –
with Jones, ‘Tank’ Johnson and Michael Vick (before all the
evidence came to light).
Police busted Jacksonville Jaguar wide receiver Matt
Jones during the 2008 preseason. He was in the process of
cutting up lines of about six grams of cocaine in his car.
The Arkansas court have made an agreement with Jones to
avoid a criminal trial and has charged Jones with simple
possession instead of possession with intent to distribute,
which is a gift given the amount of cocaine with which he
was arrested. It was not until October 21, 2008 that Commissioner
Goodell made the decision to suspend Jones
and the suspension was for only a paltry three games. It
was not until Dec. 9, 2008 that the NFL upheld the suspension,
conveniently after the Jaguars (for which Jones is
the leading receiver) were eliminated from the playoffs.
Light suspensions for white athletes from Goodell seem to
be par for the course as Minnesota Vikings defensive end
Jared Allen has been arrested three times for DUI, including
two times within five months. His four game suspension
was reduced by the Commish to two games for reasons
nobody is sure of because Goodell isn’t talking.
Terrell Owens, more famously known as TO, has been a
a lightning rod for the media about controversy he brings
to his teams. The media has scrutinized his fashion choices
(wearing a Cowboys throwback jersey inscribed with
his friend and former Cowboys player Michael Irvin’s
name after TO’s then team the Philadelphia Eagles were
beaten by the Cowboys) and has blown most of his comments
into media driven “controversy”. Yet, the media
refuses to acknowledge his courage when he put his career
on the line by playing with a significantly injured ankle
which assisted the Philadelphia Eagles to make the Super
Bowl. His on the field talents have also become a venue for
controversy because of his unique touchdown celebrations.
After reports came out that he fell asleep during a
team meeting, Owens celebrated a touchdown by “taking a
nap” with the football as a pillow. Recently, TO has become
a target of being a “conspiracy theorist” that quarterback
Tony Romo and tight end Jason Witten created secret plays
to keep the ball from TO. After many media sportswriters/
television anchors demonized TO, the story failed to
have significant proof. TO has become a magnet for negative
media coverage and has been traded from team to
team because of media perception and amplification of his
supposed negative effects on team morale, despite being
one of the most talented receivers in the NFL.
The New York Jets quarterback is one of the best ever to
play the game. However, media and fans have almost
refused to talk about the disruptive roller coaster his own
interest put the team on. In March 2008, Favre retired
from the NFL. The Packers then began grooming their
new quarterback Aaron Rodgers to take the starting job. In
July, Favre stated that he wanted to return to football. After
having meetings with Packer management and significantly
distracting the team from preparing for the 2008 season,
Favre was traded to the New York Jets in August. The hesitance
of the media to discuss effects of Favre’s actions on
team morale is obvious when compared to their eagerness
to show any sign of dissention caused by a black athlete.
Information also surfaced that Favre reportedly had a 60-
90 minute conversation with a team the Packers were
going to place. During the conversation, Favre allegedly
told the team details about the Packer offensive schemes.

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