Young World, Young World, oh my Young World! I’m greeting you from my favorite place on Planet Earth, The Corner Store. I feel like the God YHWH of the Bible when it was written that he rested after putting in all of that work. I’ve been digging in deep in regards to taking in some NFL draft coverage over the last week. The draft was held in Philly, Pa from April 27-29 and as usual I treated it like a three day vacation from the real world cuz I can do that.
My primary mission was to see who my beloved Houston Texans were gonna add to the mix in order to help us get over the hump(Patriots) and stay competitive for the foreseeable future. I must say that I was pretty krunk about the additions of Former Clemson QB Deshaun “National Champ” Watson in the 1st round and the 2,000 yard rusher from the University of Hook’em Horns(Texas), and Houston/Galveston area(Texas-City) native D’onta Foreman. I didn’t know much about the other picks, but I watched their highlights and looked over the player profiles provided by two of my most trusted draft resources in Lance Zierlein and Jayson Braddock.
It would seem that we Texans fans have a lot to look forward to. I believe with the acquisition of Watson, somebody has finally put a stopper at the base of our proverbial revolving door at the quarterback position. All I have to say about that, and I’m sure that many a Texans fan will agree, is “Bout damn time! This young man is going to do some special things in the NFL and I’m glad that he’s going to be doing it for my city’s franchise.
Many of you may have heard about Watson’s upbringing and it’s not much different than plenty of other young men that were drafted by the professional sports leagues in the US. He was raised by a single mother in a rough area, but in contrast from most other stories, his family was blessed to receive a home that was presented to them by former NFL and Florida St Seminole(Go Noles) running back Warrick Dunn.
I sat through most of the draft and one story line became all too familiar. Many of these young men, especially the black ones, didn’t have their father’s in their lives. I’m not going to go into all of the social commentary on why I believe that is, and it’s nothing new since we hear the same narrative every draft season, but for whatever reason it just touched me enough this time around that I wanted to speak on it.
I decided to go at it from a different angle this time. Today’s media is all about the click and I can’t explain why, but the clickers are drawn to the negative. Even if it’s a feel good story like Watson’s that tells the tale of a young man that overcame all of the adversity he faced to become a highly coveted target in the 2017 NFL draft, it sometimes seems that the selling point isn’t that they conquered the issue. It seems to me that sometimes the press wants to sensationalize the issue itself.
I’m actually starting to wonder if the majority of these athletes really did grow up without fathers in their lives or is that the only story line that the mic holders want put out? It’s like they seek out the brothers that came from a broken home so that they can spin that angle. I’m not saying that they make up these stories, or that they twist the words of the athletes in question, but I just feel like they seek out the hardship stories so that they can have a better story to report.
It may seem innocent, but if that’s all that, or most of what they are reporting then it leaves the viewing audience believing that growing up without a father is just part of being an African American. Same way as when I was growing up, I thought everyone in Africa looked like the starving children in Ethiopia on those commercials who were being swarmed by flies and obviously suffering from malnutrition because that’s all I saw on TV about Africa. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve met dozens of Ethiopians and none of them look or have lived like that. I’ve met native born Africans from different parts of the continent and none of them have ever been starving like those commercials led me to believe. True there are people starving in certain parts of Africa, but there are people starving in the 3rd Ward of Houston, Tx. No one can paint the entire country of America as a nation of starving people because there is a pocket of the population that can’t enjoy a meal at their leisure.
I mean, I haven’t heard a lot about the quarterback that was selected by the Chiefs two slots before Watson’s name was called by my Texans(still krunk), Patrick Mahomes II. He was raised by a black father who happened to be a professional baseball pitcher.
Don’t get me wrong, there have been articles written about Mahomes II hanging at the major league parks with his pops and there will continue to be mentions of it. I even found a quote from Kansascity.com about some jewels that the elder Mahomes dropped on his namesake.
“He gives me advice about how he transitioned into becoming a pro athlete and the work that you actually have to put into it,” Mahomes II said. “Not a lot of people see that when you’re growing up. You don’t get to see that people really have to work hard to become as good as they are. So, for me seeing that as a young age as I’ve grown up, has shown me that I have to work just as hard to get to that level.”
That’s a shining example of a Black father passing vital information onto his son. All the stories aren’t heartbreaks and headaches. It may just be me being sensitive, but I don’t see as much eagerness to push out stories of black fathers and sons building the kinds of bonds that result in boys growing into responsible young men.
So I’ll post a few of these positive images just to balance out all of the absentee black father imagery.
You probably recognize most of the athletes in these photos, but there’s probably one that you don’t. The black and white picture on the left is Texans wide out Jaelen Strong with his late father “Big” John Rankin.
Here’s an interview from houstontexans.com of the latest Texans 4th round pick Juile’n Davenport. He spoke about how spending time with his father kept him on the right path.
One of my favorite sports talk radio shows is Sports Talk 790s In The Trenches hosted by former NFL players Greg Koch and N.D. Kalu. I’ve heard N.D. speak on occasion about how his father stressed education and staying upright as a man. So I took it upon myself to reach out to brotha Kalu and ask him how his father influenced his direction and how much did it mean to him to have a father in his corner; especially during draft time. Here is his response.
“Man, words can’t express how much of an impact my father has had in my life. Regarding the draft it was huge because it was such an emotional roller coaster. Though we see so many great black men who only had their mother’s influence, for me I needed that man to teach me daily what it means to be a man through his words and actions. I see on so many occasions when black men struggle or don’t get “their way” female like tendencies surface. One minute I’m being told I could go as high as the 3rd round and then the next minute I’m seeing guys I knew I could out play getting their names called before mine. Though disappointed, I still would just think about how good it was going to feel making a final roster and my dad’s words etched into my brain telling me that if I’m good enough, it won’t matter where I was drafted. Seeing how proud he was when Ray Rhodes of the Philadelphia Eagles called him and asked to speak to his son in the 5th round made all the gassers, Oklahoma drills and Bull in the Rings worth it!”
I appreciate N.D. for bringing the Trenches to the Corner Store for a few ticks and laying it down honestly like that. Those are the type of stories that rarely see the light of day.
Lastly I’d like to post a quote from the aforementioned, and pictured, D’onta Foremen talking about the warm moment he and his father shared when they found out that their favorite team, the Houston Texans, had drafted him in round 3 of the 2017 NFL draft. This quote is also taken from HoustonTexans.com’s lead writer Deepi Sidhu.
“He was just smiling and saying he was so proud of me,” Foreman said. “It was pretty emotional for him, for all of us honestly – for me being drafted was a dream come true – but for me to be able to be a Texan, his favorite team, is crazy. I’m ready to get to work. I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a great journey.”
Unfortunately there are too many stories of young black children growing up without their fathers. I’m not interested in making any excuses or psychoanalyzing it at the moment. I just want to say that we as black men in general have to get on the good foot and stay active in the lives of our children. I’m absolutely positive that there are thousands of stories of us that take up the necessary time with our children, but it never makes a headline.
I’ll be the first to say that my father, my grandfather, my uncles, my older male cousins, some of my big homies, and some of my OGs played major roles in steering me in the right direction. My goal is to do the same for my Suns, daughters, nieces, nephews, and the other ‘Lil homies that I come across on a daily basis. I’m certain someone will point out that the picture of Shaq is with his step father Phil so in essence his father wasn’t there either. I beg to differ. His father is the MAN that’s smiling right next to him. I commend a MAN who raises another man’s child when that man isn’t MAN enough to carry out his responsibility.
I’m not Elijah Muhammad or Farrakhan, but I agree when they say that it’s up to us to tighten up our own backstroke. If there’s no pool in the hood then we need to pool our resources and build a pool.