PHILADELPHIA FREEDOM…OR NOT?
By Gary Norris Gray
BASN Staff Writer
OAKLAND (BASN): The City of Brotherly Love – when it comes to race and sports, the love is not there…or is it? This was and still is the legacy of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ignoring their famous Black sports icons. Philadelphia’s sports teams continue to stumble and bumble its way through race relations. The City is starving for another professional championship, it will not happen soon because the management will not pay for a championship.
The Seventy Sixers won the NBA title in 1983, The Phillies won the World Series in 2008, The Eagles last appearance in the Super Bowl in 2004 and their last NFL championship was in 1960. The Flyers held Lord Stanley’s Cup in 1974 and 1975 with the last conference championship in 2009-2010.
This city erected a statue of the movie box office smash hit, Rocky. The same city had the real Heavyweight Champion of The World living in their town – Smokin’ Joe Frazier. The movie was filmed in the city of Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia 76ers had many Black Super Heroes but people outside of the Tri-State Area would never know it. Let’s travel back in time with Number Six – with the big afro and the sky dunk? The man who made house calls in the Spectrum, Julius “The Doctor” Erving.
What about the “Big Dipper” Wilt “the Stilt” Chamberlin? Can’t forget “4-5-4″ Moses Malone or the toughest little guard to ever hit the floor in the NBA, Allen “Practice” Iverson. Yes, we have to include the Round Mound of Rebound, Charles Barkley. To this day only “The Doctor” gains respect in this city.
The Phillies had their African American stars too, but they never captured the hearts and minds of Philadelphia. Shortstop John Kennedy went on the field in 1957 being the first Black player to wear the Phillies red and white.
My favorite Phillie was First basemen, third basemen, and outfielder, Dick Allen who got ran out of town because he owned race horses in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
He got ran out of town because he was not the right color. Allen was the first African American baseball superstar in Philadelphia. Allen would be the last. This town called the Dodger Hall of Fame shortstop Jackie Robinson the N-Word. Allen had good company and the Tri-state newspapers would not let up.
Arcel Moore wrote “Black baseball fans of my generation remember the contemptuous treatment of Dick Allen, the slugging third baseman whom the team eventually traded. Other than Allen, the Phillies have never developed a black superstar”.
Outfielders Gary ‘Sarge’ Matthews and Garry Maddox put on Phillie red and won divisional championships; Maddox an integral part of the 1980 World Series Championship team was recognized league wide as arguably the best defensive centerfielder of his era; but you wouldn’t know it by the VHS tape of that team’s success.
New York Mets announcer Lindsey Nelson’s famous analysis of Maddox’ skills (“The Earth is covered by two–thirds water; the other third by Garry Maddox!”) and Matthews led the 1983 League Champion – but both players are still just footnotes in Phillie history.
Pitchers, reliever Al Holland and starter Charles Hudson were at the end of their careers and of course cannot forget the brief appearance of all star infielder Joe Morgan of the Wheeze Kids Era.
This football team integrated in 1952 with running backs Ralph Goldston and Don Stevens. They were ahead of the curve hiring Ray Rhodes, their first African American head coach. He guided two teams to the playoffs; but it was not enough because he (Rhodes) did not win the Super Bowl.
The Eagles were the first team to carry two Black quarterbacks on the roster in the same season. Rodney Peete and Randal Cunningham guided The Birds to victory. Nobody can forget the minister of defense Reggie White. White got shipped out of the city to The Green Bay Packers when free agent talks started.
The Flyers also have brothers on the ice with goalie All Star Ray Emery, right winger Pierre – Edouard Bellemare, and left winger Donald Brashear, Sandy McCarthy right winger, and Claude Vilgrain right winger.
Right winger Wayne “Spider” Simmonds has played in the tradition of great Flyer grinders like Gary Dornhofer, Tim Kerr, Rick Tocchet and John LeClair. Currently the team leader in goals, one could make the argument that Simmonds could well be team MVP with his flexibility to perform on every line and make other players better around him. He is the closest thing to a well – respected Black athlete in this city.
PART II-FLY EAGLES FLY
MY, MY, MY have times have changed in the Northeast City.
The Eagles football organization two years ago hired a head coach that did not have professional coaching experience. (WHAT HAPPENED TO THE ROONEY RULE?) They hired a head coach that did not back his African American players in college.
The ugly 2009 incident with a Black running back LeGarrette Blount knocked out a white Boise State linebacker Byron Haut. Blount got suspended for four games. This caught national attention but the incident still has not been clarified by Mr. Chip Kelly. THE N-Word was used by Bronco linebacker Haut; confirmed by BASN in a previous column by Michael – Louis Ingram. Haut was not punished for his taunting by the NCAA or the team as far as we know.
This is Philadelphia’s legacy with Head Coach Chip Kelly working at the University of Oregon came with him to the City of Brotherly Love. When the NCAA started investigating the recruiting policies at Eugene, Oregon, Kelly bolted to Philadelphia.
The Eagles organization hired a man that wanted to change the rules of the National Football League by speeding up the game; lauded by some as revolutionary. One major flaw – it’s been done. Every team in the Canadian Football League has 20 seconds to get off an offensive play – at least 2.2 seconds on average faster than this so – called “new’ offense. It scored points – but didn’t win a football championship. Chip had his own agenda. The Eagles have suffered through two years of this kind of leadership. The fraud is on at Lincoln Financial Field. Beware of the individuals who want complete power and control.
The Eagles will not see another African American quarterback in the distant future. Randall Cunningham, Rodney Peete, Donovan McNabb, and Michael Vick may have been the limit for this northeast city.
Randall Cunningham got run out of town to Minnesota where the Vikings went to the NFC Championship in 1998 with his best season 15-1 record. The Eagles stated that Randall could not run. Number 12 put that to rest with playoff victories in Minnesota.
McNabb got chased and shipped to Washington after the Eagles went to four straight NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl. If the organization had signed all pro receivers like Terrell Owens (and paid him his money) the Green Birds would have at least won a couple Super Bowls in the McNabb era.
Trying to win a championship on the cheap gets you nowhere and the Eagle management has profited from this business art form. This is Money Ball Football Style.
Wide receiver Terrell Owens made that clear with his press conference informing the Philadelphia fan base about this business practice. Mr. Owens at that time was the only credible receiver in green and white. Owens told the press these facts and was let go. The truth hurts and nobody took him seriously. Within months Owens and McNabb were wearing different uniforms.
The Philadelphia Eagles have not learned yet.
The Eagles then signed suspended star QB Michael Vick in 2009 infuriating Commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners who wanted to keep this talented quarterback out of the league. The football establishment wanted Vick to suffer; the Eagles dismantled that idea by signing Number Seven.
Vick still had the great quarterback skills to direct any team to a championship but injuries began to creep in and hamper his mobility. Philadelphia finished the 2011 season with an 8–8 record.
The team began with a 4–8 record before winning four games in a row to finish the season. The final game of the season was a 34–10 victory on January 1, 2012 at home against The Washington Football Club. Vick completed 24 of his 39 passes for 335 yards and three touchdowns.
The Philadelphia Eagles may have other ethical issues with their head coach and players. The organization outsourced a 2015 calendar with an Eagle player featured each month. Wide receiver Riley Cooper was the featured player for the month of February. February is Black History Month and Cooper should have been the last person for that month.
Riley Cooper, Damaris JohnsonMr. Riley “I’ll fight all of you N***** in here”, Cooper on the Eagles 2015 calendar, that’s not the problem, but to put him on Black History Month, REALLY, What were they thinking?
Are you telling African American Eagle fans that the football administration did not see this? That nobody questioned this stupid act or was it a clear mistake of omission? Or are they saying we don’t care about African American fans. You never know in Philadelphia.
But for all African American Eagle fans you better start questioning your team’s administrative decisions.
This is the same team that ran their best receiver DeSean Jackson out of town. Then the organization trashed the young man with baseless allegations to gang ties, thug and bad behavior, and also being arrogant. All of these allegations were NEVER PROVEN!!!!
Question, why these issues never surfaced before his release? Teammates did not have problems with Mr. Jackson. So what is the real deal? Maybe the Eagle organization did not want to pay Jackson who would have been a free agent.
Jackson gave time, money, and friendship to many children’s organizations year after year in the Philadelphia Area … THAT WAS NEVER MENTIONED IN THE PHILLY RANT.
Then Michael Vick moves to the New York Jets reminding many of the good old days in the city of Brotherly Love.
The question should be asked where are the top Black Eagle executives on these issues…hell, where are the top Black executives?
This organization is a mess and it has created division within the Eagles organization and this team will not win another championship with this kind of nonsense going on in the locker room.
PART III-SOUTH PHILLY FIGHTING
3. The Philadelphia Flyers are the only bright spot in the city. They have the best scoring forward in the National Hockey League but hockey fans in Philadelphia will never admit it. He is the wrong color. Wayne Simmonds embodied the historical “BROAD STREET BULLIES” style of hockey.
The Orange and Black were a shell of a hockey team with Goal Brother, right winger, Wayne Simmonds guiding them through the months of October, November, and December. While teammates Claude Giroux and Jacob Voracek flashed talent early on, the Flyers were still in last place while waiting the other members of the team finally got it together.
The other Flyers finally remembered how to skate and score goals. Simmonds led the team in hits and scoring chances those difficult months. He has 24 goals with 18 assist and a nine game scoring streak. It would have been 14 straight but the New York Islanders shut him down on February 5.
The Flyers are now in the playoff hunt with over 20 games left in the season as the beat the Washington Capitals 2-1 Sunday afternoon. The Flyers play another nationally telecast game on Sunday March 1st against their heated rival New York Rangers.
The Phillies once the pride of the city winning five straight divisional titles and a World Series will not be going anywhere in 2015. The Phillies released their star shortstop, brother, Jimmy Rollins over the winter to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
There are only two African Americans remaining on the team outfielder Domonic Brown and first basemen Ryan Howard. Howard might not be wearing a Philly red uniform much longer if he gets off to a bad start this spring.
The rebuilding program has started as devoted fans will suffer through another season of losing and while the coaching staff searches for the right combination.
This winter right hander A.J. Burnett went to the Pittsburgh Pirates and pitcher Kyle Kendrick went to the Colorado Rockies outfielder Marlon Byrd traveled to Cincinnati; while teammate lefthander Antonio Bastardo joined Burnett in Pittsburgh.
Starting pitcher Cole Hamels started this year by complaining that he wanted out of Philly because they are not going to win. If I’m the general manager Hamels would be on the last train to Clarksville because you can’t have him influencing the young players.
PART IV DISASTER AREA
The Sixers have been the joke of the league the past two years. This will be year number three. Other teams love to play there because they know they can pad their statistics and get a paid vacation in the middle of winter.
This past week the Sixer organization traded players as if it were in a Monopoly Game getting nothing in return but hopes of eight first round draft choices. This Sixers team entered 2015 with the most losses the past two years and counting to keep that lead this year. Tanking has become an art form at Wachovia Center on Broad Street.
The confusing Philadelphia 76ers did it again this past week with the recent moves of general manager Sam Hinkie. This time he traded reigning Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams to the Milwaukee Bucks. The Sixers got a protected 2015 first round pick from the Suns via the Los Angeles Lakers. That pick is top-five protected this year.
Hinkie also traded talented rookie forward K.J. McDaniels to the Houston Rockets for seldom-used guard Isaiah Canaan and a second-round pick. McDaniels’ mother, Shawn Chapman McDaniels, also is probably happy with her son being traded – she had heckled the team at games. The Sixers also acquired often-injured and eccentric center JaVale McGee from the Denver Nuggets.
Tuesday night February 24th, the Sixers had to claim a player to reach the league minimum salary limit. Man, talk about cheap this is it. Thomas Robertson from the Portland Trailblazers will be wearing Philadelphia colors Wednesday night.
If the Sixers goal was to get under the salary cap they have done that for the third straight year. There will be more Sixers lottery balls in the hopper this July at Madison Square Garden. This will be the third year in a row at the number one draft pick.
So at the mid 2000′s decade mark Philly sports fans are trying to find sunlight and joy with their four professional teams. The young players in Phillie, Eagle, Flyer, and Sixer uniforms might bring a championship to the city of Brotherly Love in about five, six or seven years.
Maybe if these organizations insert the best players on the field, diamond, court, or ice there would be a celebration victory parade down Market Street. If these organizations abandon their inherent racial bias a championship could be near.
But then again IT’S PHILADELPHIA!!!!
African American fans might be questioning if these organizations really want to win by chasing Black stars out of town-REPEAT-REPEAT-REPEAT-REPEAT.
Special thanks to Yahoo Sports, Wikipedia, and BASN web sites for the information.
Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network on Blogtalkradio.com Disabled Community Activist. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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