Did Terry Bradshaw say something racist? Yes. Do I think Terry Bradshaw is a racist? It doesn’t matter.
TB, whose goofy antics on Fox NFL Sunday have become stuff of legend, said Sunday during a highlight clip that running back Reggie Bush looked like he was chasing a bucket of chicken as he scampered for a touchdown.
Bradshaw is a helpless soul. He’s old, he’s from the South, and part of his schtick is doling out crude comments, be they be misogynistic in nature (about, say, his ex-wives), racially insensitive or poorly comedic.
But the reaction of Curt Menefee was extremely telling. He didn’t laugh to cover up the joke. He didn’t stay silent as if to try ignore it. He let out an audible groan that seemed to say, “If I could say something about this, I would.”
Specifically, he says, “Oh, boy.” Followed by a look at Michael Strahan and, “What are we going to do with him?”
That was the saddest part. Menefee appeared to feel muted. For whatever reason, we’re willing to insert war metaphors and all sorts of other life stories into the narrative about professional football, but race is the last frontier.
Is America really too stupid to deal with the reality of racial insensitivity amongst our countrymen if we’re forced to understand the valiance of war while we watch football? The answer is no.
For what it’s worth, I didn’t think that Don Imus needed to be fired for his comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team in 2007. His co-host Bernard McGuirk’s comments to start that fateful discussion were more offensive, in my opinion.
It seems like we might be moving forward on these racial issues because people can say things we know they mean without fear of being censored. But Imus at the very least apologized. He knew he was wrong and erred on the side of unemployment. But is anyone going to tell Bradshaw, publicly, that making jokes about black people and chicken is just not funny, never mind hurtful?
If Bradshaw wants to make a backwater comment that harkens on bigoted stereotypes, so be it. But the fact that nobody, black or not, chastised him about his choice of words was even more telling.
Now, instead of it being a quick learning moment for all of America, we’re mired in yet another conversation of what is and is not racist.
All it would have taken is one sentence from ANYONE to tell Bradshaw that the comment was out of line.
Bradshaw doesn’t need to apologize. But if the NFL is going to allow the people who represent its league to carry on their jocular bits in front the world, they shouldn’t just end the conversation when controversies crop up.
As for Fox, there are a lot of smart guys on television. A lot of dumb ones, too. And for every time Skip Bayless makes a race-baiting comment or Stephen A. Smith sounds like he drops the N-bomb, there are plenty of instances for thoughtful, intelligent dudes to refute something harmful when they see it.
If they don’t feel they can speak up when something needs to be said, that might be the most damaging effect of all.
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