Josh Gordon has a drug problem and Rob Gronkowski just likes to have fun.
Boy, isn’t that fresh.
This isn’t a referendum on Josh Gordon’s tendency to put himself in questionable situations, or even about Rob Gronkowski living every man’s dream on and off the field. It’s merely an observation of the NFL’s crusade to bastardize a young black football player, while a white football player (only two years older) continues his legacy as the poster boy of frat bros everywhere.
Before I dive in, let’s get a better understanding of these two athletes.
Josh Gordon is a 23-year-old African American wide receiver with unbound talent, but finds himself in off-the-field trouble more often than not. Gordon is now facing a year-long suspension as a result of another violation of the league’s substance abuse policy.
Rob Gronkowski is a 25-year-old white tight end with physical tools unmatched by any mere mortal and an infectious personality off-the-field that presents a certain gravitational pull.
Both are talented, both are personable, and both are bound together by the underlying perceptions of race in professional football.
I’m going to ask you a very blunt question right now, one that might itch at first but just take a second and think about it.
How would you perceive Gronkowski’s off-the-field antics if he were black?
On the flip-side, how would you perceive Josh Gordon hitting a joint every once in a while if he were white?
Dan LeBatard broached this question first on his radio show late last week, and I’ve been playing emotional tug-of-war all week trying to answer it.
Except now, I realize that I’ve been looking at the question the wrong way.
The hypothetical of Gronk being black or Gordon being white is just that—a hypothetical. It was a smart man that once told me that hypotheticals are a poor form of investment.
The question at hand is how the NFL media has allowed the racial divide in its reporting to become so overblown that we can’t even tell what’s real and what’s fabricated anymore.
It may sound crass, but don’t be naïve.
Gronk is just a young, good looking, talented caucasian football player out there making the most of his opportunities in order to stay out of obscurity. He guzzles beer, takes photo’s with porn stars, and publicly proclaims he doesn’t read. But it’s cool because he’s just out there living.
Gronk is young, wild and free.
They may not say it, but read between the lines. The NFL has allowed society to say, “It’s okay, because he’s white.”
In all honesty, what would have been more discrete at the Patriots’ Super Bowl parade: hanging halfway out of a moving trolley chugging Busch Light or sitting in a seat on the upper deck sparking a joint?
When it comes to Josh Gordon, two beers and two cocktails on a private flight with teammates, and he’s just another coddled, over-privileged black athlete. Turn on ESPN for five minutes, and you’ll be convinced that Gordon’s problems have him one step from life in the clink.
Don’t take my defense of Josh Gordon as a free pass for his transgressions. At the end of the day, his youth and immaturity have put him in these situations (and getting caught doesn’t help).
He was the first to own up to that, in his brilliantly-scribed open letter posted on The Cauldron.
“Yes, I have a ‘problem,’ but it’s not the one all of you seem to think it is.”
We all do things we’re not proud of, that’s part of growing up. But another part of growing up is coming to the realization that at the end of the day, we’re all human beings living on this planet together.
And unfortunately for our national media, that often goes unsaid.
You don’t need to answer the question, “how would we view Rob Gronkowski if he were black?” or “how would we view Josh Gordon if he were white?”
Rather, take a step back and stop viewing these two individuals through the distorted lens of the NFL’s media outlets. Stop letting the dismantled media oligarchy (ESPN) choose our perception of the public figures and so-called role models our children grow up admiring. And most of all, start resisting the hand-fed, predisposed bullshit littering your everyday life.
Or don’t. Go on living in the shadowed abyss with your achromatically deficient friends known as the mass media.
But whatever you do, don’t let the news blind you from the truth.