Just Play The Damn Games

For once, I’d like to get through an entire major college or pro football game without it seeming like a BET video had somehow been spliced in.

Enough of the punk gibberish and the boorish gestures on the field. Enough of players “celebrating” the most mundane of accomplishments in the most preening, “look-at-me” manner.

And enough of those fans who excuse all of the above in the name of “enthusiasm” shown by the home team. For example, to applaud and even revel in Warren Sapp’s juvenile, end-zone “tribute” to Beyonce Knowles after his TD reception against the Falcons, is to be part of the problem.

And speaking of race, which we obviously are, how outrageous is it for Keyshawn Johnson to be claiming revisionist racism regarding the TV coverage and commentary accorded last year’s heated, sideline exchange with Jon Gruden? The media — being the media — played up the incident pitting the brash, talented, outspoken receiver and the hands-on, ego-driven, charismatic head coach. It is what it is.

Johnson now sees the confrontation through a racial filter. That’s because the media didn’t similarly overplay another sideline incident — the recent confrontation between Raiders’ quarterback Rich Gannon and his head coach Bill Callahan and offensive coordinator Marc Trestman.

According to Johnson, much more was made of his animated exchange with “blond, pretty boy” Gruden than is being made of the veteran (white) QB Gannon going ballistic during Oakland’s 31-10 drubbing by Denver. Only institutional racism, reasons Johnson, could account for such media-treatment disparity.

Johnson referred to the perception that he is a “loudmouth receiver from the ghetto,” while Gannon is perceived as a “class-act quarterback.” And he’s right. Only it’s more than perception.

Johnson has spent an entire career honing and reinforcing a loud, bodacious, “the rules don’t apply to me” image, both with the New York Jets and here with the Bucs. While the sideline incident with Gruden was overblown, it was not out of character for Johnson, who is never spotlight-challenged.

On the other hand, Gannon has long been known as one of the league’s more respectable, good guys. His shouting session with his coaches was a behavioral aberration, not a personality extension. It was a one-day news item. End of story. Johnson vs. Gruden was media red meat, but not because of societal racism.

There’s a reason Johnson is also called “Meshawn.” And, no, that’s not a racial slur.

Just play the damn games.

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