Leland Stein III

Archive for August, 2018|Monthly archive page

Blue Lives Matter founder says NFL Players’ protest are fake

In sports column on August 24, 2018 at 1:25 am
Miami Dolphins v New York Jets

New York Jets team and owner lock arms during National Anthem.

 By Leland Stein III

stein watkins profile

Leland Stein

A friend sent me an article on Yahoo.com where a group has bastardized Black Lives Matter movement into Blue Lives Matter.

First, I want to say I have too many friends and family that have been in or are now in the military or on the police force. My grandfather fought in World War II, uncles and cousins in Vietnam and Korea. Many more are policemen so I truly respect and appreciate their sacrifice for this country.

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Of course, Blue Lives Matter, Yellow Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter . . . All Lives Matter. What sane person can question that intent; however, when a group uses divisiveness and untruths as a basis for its meaning – it only drives a giant wedge between groups instead of building bridges.

The complete inability of Americans to listen to, respect, receive, regard or take note of any opinion other than their own is disconcerting and troubling. That’s what I take from the Blue Lives Matter founder’s words.

Hey, I have twin grandsons that are four-years-old and I at one point thought we were really leaving the world a better place for their dreams, goals and aspirations. But when I see the complete discord and inharmoniousness people are displaying I have to wonder where we are headed.

Our First Amendment gives all the right of free speech; however, with that we all have to understand freedom is not free. It comes with a responsibility of respectful discourse and being able to listen to others that may have different opinions.

Also, what has happened to facts. Two plus two equals four, the sun raises in the East, airplanes use fuel and grits and butter are made for each other – facts. Yet, in this getting stranger everyday universe “alternative facts” have creeped into today’s lexicon.

Look no further than this article in Yahoo.com where the founder of a proposed pro-police organization blasted NFL player protests and turned down a partnership offer from the New York Jets.

Blue Lives Matter NYC recently was approached by the Jets about a partnership. Instead of using the opportunity to uplift the men in blue and enter dialogue with the predominately African-American players the founder, Joe Imperatrice, jumped on the Trump train and made it all about the NFL players. He uses his Blue Lives Matter platform to regurgitates every stereotype and typecast he can to denigrate those Black men trying to make the world a better place for all.

He issued a vile email that marginalize minority Americans’ very real concerns and apprehensions relating to sometimes excessive and one-sided interactions with a “very small percentage” of police.

In spite of the fact many veterans and some police have rallied around the players right to First Amendment non-violent protest, the divisive rhetoric seeded by Trump has grown into its own tree. 

Via emails shared with The New York Post, Blue Lives Matter founder wrote:

“Although I’d love to work with an NFL team right now I feel it is not the right time. All over the United States players feel entitled to disrespect our first responders, our military members both past and present and our flag. These players make more money in a season than some people make in a lifetime and their ‘Issues’ are made up, exaggerated, and more times than not false.”

He continued: “Once again I do appreciate the offer but revenue we have could better be spent on the families of officers killed in the line of duty protecting the ignorance of these individuals rather than contributing to their paycheck.”

Blue Lives Matter founder in July, appeared on a Fox News segment blaming the media for a war on cops saying: “Just like Donald Trump gets beat up every day, so does law enforcement.”

Wow! Just another so sorry example of someone not listening to his fellow man, instead he went for the same-old tired and fatigued racial juggernaut, claiming the NFL players’ protests are fake and over exaggerated . . . what? In other words, African-American issues are not worth his time of day. Just like our president, he simply ignored and refused to address the players’ real intent, instead pandering to a segment of Americans who gleefully bury the real and only reason for player protest under an avalanche of falsehoods and created disrespects.

Instead of even acknowledging some real issues, the Blue Lives Matter leader jumped on the men’s salary (what the heck does that have to do with anything?); replayed this anti-military, anti-first responders, anti-flag, anti-country “fake” disrespect thing. The final nail in the coffin was him suggesting the protesting players were ignorant (most of these men spent at least three years in college).

Why am I even surprised? This man is the same person who defended in a 2017 Fox News segment the NYPD’s “stop-and-frisk” policy that gave officers authority to detain and search pedestrians using their judgment of “reasonable suspicion.” Here are the facts: a report uncovered that 84 percent of the people stopped and frisked in New York were black or Hispanic while 10 percent were white.

It appears that some of our white brethren just will not listen or acknowledge that there are a small number of officers that do not always do the right thing. How has this fact turned into a condemnation of all officers?

In this free-flowing society teachers, doctors, lawyers, CEO’s, garbage men, sports owners etc. al have made mistakes or taken a wrong turn. This is a fact. So why will Americans not admit that a few of our men in blue make mistakes too?

To all our brothers and sisters in this life, once again: the NFL players never, ever attacked the military, men or women in blue, the flag or first responders (wow, that was a new addition in this discourse – the first time I’ve heard someone accuse the players of hating on first-responders).

Blue Lives Matter founder went so far as to claim the players’ “issues are made up, exaggerated, and more times than not false.” To answer that lie about “made up,” during the 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremony, Randy Moss, wore a tie with the names 10 black people who somewhat recently were unjustly killed by police or died after being taken into custody. He noted that he received hate mail after he used his platform to raise awareness of some very real issues in the Black community.

In America non-violent protest has been its bedrock, yet when a few black men do it, it has morphed into a national crisis and upheaval.

The crisis is not people engaging in non-violent demonstration, it is seeing injustice to our fellow Americans and ignoring it, and, co-opting the significance of a protest and turning a positive message and intent into something negative.

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com and Twitter at LelandSteinIII

Terrell Owens always the Diva . . .

In sports column on August 10, 2018 at 10:10 pm

 

terrele owens yellow jacket By Leland Stein III

Leland Stein III

I am not surprised that Terrell Owens became the first NFL Hall of Famer to skip the Canton, Ohio induction ceremonies. Instead he staged his own celebration with a speech on the campus of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

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The 2018 NFL Hall of Fame Class enjoy each other’s company.

What this solidifies in my mind is that Owens is simply an attention seeking confused man. Much like Kanye West and others, Owens takes-action with the thought that people will have to address him, he simply cannot comprehend the long-term reality or negative repercussions or aftermaths of his choices.

Some of my peers wondered aloud whether Owens’ stance would distract from an awesome 2018 Hall of Fame Class. Well, after watching the event and listening to the noteworthy orations by the 2018 inductees, I am glad to report Owens’ absence did nothing to distract from the positive aura surrounding this group. 

With Ray Lewis, Randy Moss and Brian Urlacher joining the Pro Football Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility, and, Owens and Brian Dawkins joining them, it became one of the youngest enshrined groups in history. Those five players were joined by longtime personnel executive Bobby Beathard (contributor) and seniors committee nominees Jerry Kramer and Robert Brazile for enshrinement.

Looking and listening to this amazing assemblage of gridiron legends, there was absolutely no way Owens stole their collective shine.

With Lewis a 13-time Pro Bowl selection, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and a Super Bowl MVP in his career as a Baltimore Ravens linebacker. There is Moss, who is second all-time in touchdown receptions with 156 and had eight 1,200-yard seasons in his career. Urlacher was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and the league’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2005.

Then there is Owens, who ranks eighth all time in receptions (1,078), second in receiving yards (15,935) and third in receiving touchdowns (153).

Owens was in just his third year of eligibility. Dawkins was in his second year of eligibility.

Because Diva Owens did not go into the Hall in his first year, he regressed into I’m a big baby mode and called the Hall of Fame, “Hall of Shame.”

Predictably the voters shunned Owens in his second year and he took the discourse up another level, threatening to skip the enshrinement, which he eventually did.

Sure, Owens had a point for maybe being a first ballot Hall of Famer; however, what he is missing is that in this life being right sometimes comes with patience and placidity. He simply does not have the skills of compromise or conciliation, which are some of our most important gifts in making our interaction with humanity smoother.

Like in a marriage or on a job or coaching or teaching or raising children, the ability to make a defined statement or point without an acrimonious or rancorous retort toward anyone that may have a differing opinion or thought than oneself . . . is a quintessential life skill – Owens seems to not have.

How many of us have had to cajole our wife to please marry me or push their kids to put a better effort into their school work or push one’s boss to honestly give he or she a fair shot at a promotion or push your coaches to let them know you are ready to be a starter? These things do not always happen on one’s first try, yet we keep at it.

I have covered three NFL Hall of Fame events in Canton, and I can clearly say that the four or five-day event is beyond special. Owens in his myopic vision of right and wrong missed a chance to fellowship with other legends that already have the Yellow Jacket (Jim Brown, Franco Harris, Steve Young, Jerry Rice, etc. al.), break bread at the Hall dinner, the presentation of the Yellow Jackets event, his teams he played for hosting and celebrating his enshrinement, and finally the day of one’s speech where coaches, teammates, family and fans come to Canton stadium to honor and rejoice a career.

In Owens’ self-serving speech in Tennessee, he tried to frame his stance as helping others that may follow him in the Hall. “I am against sportswriters who are not in alignment with the mission of the Hall of Fame core values,” he told reporters. “I am helping the next guy.”

Sorry Owens, in a time when your fellow athletes are putting their careers on the line to bring attention to injustices in the courts and with law enforcement, his trying to help other does not measure up.

Who is Owens helping? I project the .0001% of America’s population will be in a position to become first ballot Hall of Fame inductees. So, his helping people claim is basically counterfeit. 

What Owens did against the Hall only serve himself. He seems to not have the ability to correct himself when, like all of us who make mistakes do, he just insulates himself, does not take personal ownership and creates a they are against me aura.

That is hard to project when Owens himself alienated so many with his over the top end zone celebrations; being the father of two daughters and two sons, by four different mothers; his off and on the field antics; having to pay $45,000 per baby mama for child support; having allegedly tried to kill himself by intentionally ingesting an overdose of hydrocodone, a pain medication; and spitting in the face of a fellow athlete.

Owens was a superior athlete, but his on and off the field antics caused pause by the voters. He just does not understand that life is not a horizontal line ray, but a circular geometry line that is interconnected. What one does over here does not disappear into no-man’s land, it remains. Our actions throughout life connect us like a DNA life-link chain.

Owens is an exceptional athlete who played basketball, football, and ran track in college. Surely, he is worthy of his Hall of Fame induction, but this man is stuck in the you wronged me zone and that has costed him an amazing weekend that only happens once.

If you asked your wife to marry you three times and she finally says yes, do you boycott her? When you push your children to try harder in class and it takes five to twenty times to get that message through do you kick them out the house?

Owens once again fell prey to his self-serving demons and boycotted an event that was meant for him to give honor to his coaches, family, teammates and life. This brother is his own worst enemy and simply cannot humble himself for others.

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com and Twitter at LelandSteinIII

World Cup aftermath: Black kids should be exceling at soccer, but . . .

In sports column on August 10, 2018 at 9:05 pm

 

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France celebrates second World Cup victory

By Leland Stein III

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Recently when France overcame Croatia 4-2 in the 2018 FIFA World Cup final in Russia, I was simply glued to the action and the players. The preponderance of black athletes in the tournament just captivated me.

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Superstars Paul Pogba (L) and Kylian Mbappe of France celebrate victory with the World Cup trophy.

 Now in my mid-sixties, when I reflect back to my youth as an athlete in inner-city Detroit, I realized just how myopic my vision of sports was. My crew and I only played football, basketball, baseball and ran track. 

Do not get me wrong, those sports are awesome and has uplifted thousands of black boys and girls out of poverty and has exposed them to higher education. Indeed, those sports have given purpose to too many youths that had become demoralized due to their family environments and struggles with education.

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Tim Howard, US national team, has made millions playing soccer all over the world.

 As a retired teacher and coach, I have witnessed first-hand how those sports have given purpose and define direction to many. However; after watching the 2018 World Cup, in particular France, I see there is so much more opportunity for inner-city youth to expand their vision of what may be possible via sports.

 

With black Frenchmen like defender Samuel Umtiti, midfielders Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante, and forward Kylian Mbappe, just to name a few, displaying speed, agility, coordination and swag, I could only wonder, why not here in America?

Well, the soccer situation in America’s inner-cities is non-existent. Looking worldwide, it’s obvious that the most popular sport in the world is filled with faces of all colors. Yet, soccer in the United States still finds itself at cross-roads when it comes to diversity – perhaps as much in how its perceived as the reality of who’s playing the game today. 

Despite a US soccer boom, the sport has made barely a ripple in black communities. Could unlocking this talent base revive the failing national team? The US National team did not qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

Sure, our best athletes run track, play football or basketball. But let’s just dream for a minute: what if Barry Sanders (the most elusive running back ever), Russell Westbrook, Le’Veon Bell, Marshall Faulk, Adrian Peterson, Odell Beckham Jr., Steph Curry, Isiah Thomas, “Bullet” Bob Hayes, Chris Paul, Carl Lewis, Tommie Smith, Antonio Brown, Jim Brown etc. al. chose soccer?

Imagine the above mentioned superstar athletes running, dipping, cutting and juking on a soccer field and behind them in goal, Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant or Kevin Durant blocking every kick attempt. 

Oh, how the world of soccer would change if America put any effort into giving opportunities to the millions of inner-city youth just falling short of the limited possibilities open in football and basketball. Even better is that football (soccer) becomes so accepted that on the regular some our greatest athletes like LeBron James would chose the football pitch just because it would afford even more money and the same status. 

If somehow, our inner-city school administrators could get state and federal government we to invest in soccer, or maybe even wrestling and volleyball, what an expanse of new opportunity that investment would present to our youth.

Soccer is one of the world’s most democratic games, played on streets and in alleys around the globe – just like basketball. It would seem a natural fit for America’s predominately black inner cities, where basketball thrives on playground courts.

America’s media has long been small-minded, parochial and narrow-minded in its presentation of what sports are important in its newspapers, televisions and broadcast highlights.

Our media has always presented soccer, and, women’s sports as second-class citizens. Very minimal coverage and airtime. 

We have failed to inform our youth that soccer (known worldwide as football) players are the highest paid athletes in the world, and its Super Bowl (World Cup) is the world’s second greatest gathering of nations after the Olympics.

In America, soccer is seen as a sport played by middle-class suburban kids. Even the term ‘soccer mom’ conjures up an image of a white, suburban mother shuttling her pre-teen kids to games in a plush minivan. 

Our national team has been unable to develop dynamic, creative players (now playing basketball and football) who can compete at an international level. Many see the roots of this failure in the expensive, well-organized network of pay-to-play suburban leagues. Some parents spend more than $10,000 a year on membership fees and out-of-town club tournaments.

What about college opportunities? Well, competitions where college coaches find recruits and national scouts identify prospects are at the club level. Children in poor neighborhoods are priced out and struggle with the logistics of reaching training fields far from public transport and inner-city routes. 

As a result, millions of children don’t ever try soccer – including some of the country’s best athletes.

“To not be allowing non-white kids to develop shows why we aren’t in the World Cup,” Amir Lowery, a former Major League Soccer player and executive director of Open Goal Project, said in an interview. “A kid playing basketball and American football can see a chance to play in college, they see a path through. If you want to play soccer [beyond high school], there’s no path there. You don’t ever see college coaches at high school games. Mentally, the kids aren’t even thinking soccer is accessible.”

If our closed-minded media can expand its presentation and build a connection with the recognizable, pop culture stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Lionel Messi, as they have with stars LeBron James, Aaron Rodgers, Usain Bolt, Tom Brady and Bryce Harper, it would open minds and doors.

This would unlock a new smorgasbord of role models that would trickle down to possible sports choices youth scan as real potential opportunities to uplift one’s life. 

Hylton Dayes is the men’s soccer coach at the University of Cincinnati, and one of only eight black coaches in all of Division 1 soccer.

“There’s no question that there’s an improvement in the number of African-American players playing soccer,” Dayes, told ESPN.com, “but we also need to be cognizant that there’s a lot of work that still needs to be done. The majority of the good African-American athletes aren’t drawn to soccer.”

The fact of the matter is soccer is simply not cool with African-American kids for lack of a better phrase. Who can be cooler than James, Brady or Curry per ESPN Sports Center.

Nelson Mandela once said: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, the power to unite people that little else has.” 

The inclusion of soccer in inner-cities as a very real and viable alternative to football or basketball as Mandela noted, it has the possibility to uplift thousands and thousands of searching youth.

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com and Twitter at LelandSteinIII