Whether you’re at the end of your coffee, your day, your week or even your rope, welcome to Whitt’s End 6.12.20…
*Still seven weeks until the NBA re-boots its season. We can’t wait that long to discuss the Dallas Mavericks’ chances, so we held a virtual roundtable. Consensus: Mavs have a legit shot to move up in the standings, then win at least one playoff series. Amazingly, the latter hasn’t happened since 2011.
*The Dallas Cowboys should sign Colin Kaepernick. I was quick to criticize Jerry Jones for being silent amidst our nation’s protests for racial equality and against police brutality. This week those sentiments spread far and wide, with DFW media now wondering the same and San Francisco 49ers’ cornerback Richard Sherman calling him out.
“Jerry Jones, especially, has no problem speaking up any other time about anything else,” Sherman said. “But when it’s such a serious issue, and he could really make a huge impact on it with a few words, his silence speaks volumes.”
Though the Cowboys finally put out a sleek statement, the most outspoken and visible owner in the NFL has remained eerily quiet on a topic that transcends sports and resonates around the globe. Jones could – should – muzzle his detractors with a simple transaction that would help both his football team and his country’s race relations:
America’s Tempest in a Teapot on America’s Team.
Can Kaepernick still play? Let’s find out.
He was a dominant dual threat in leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012. Since taking a knee during the national anthem in 2016 he’s been blackballed, a fact the NFL admitted in court (with a financial settlement), in public relations (with an apology) and in commitment (with $250 million over 10 years). NFL players from Malcom Jenkins to Matt Ryan are calling for a team to take a chance on Kaepernick.
Is he better than Dak Prescott? Nope. Andy Dalton? Likely not. Ben DiNucci? Hmm.
The signing, of course, would be bigger than football. Signing Kaepernick would move toward mending the fence of race relations. Anyone that witnessed the Dallas protests in recent weeks knows we could use a dose of unity. And what billion-dollar corporation couldn’t use the help of one of the world’s most powerful activists? Besides, Jerry loves the spotlight. His Cowboys would be the media epicenter of NFL training camps.
If Kaepernick can’t play, release him. Fair and square. If he can, keep him. And, yes, let him kneel during the anthem. Trust me, he won’t be the only player doing so in 2020. (The U.S. Soccer Federation, for example, just revised its rules to allow peaceful protests, saying of its previous ban, “It has become clear that this policy was wrong and detracted from the important message of Black Lives Matter.”)
Jerry is an old oil wildcatter who thrives on risk. He’s a gambler fearless of negative consequences, evidenced by once signing Greg Hardy and drafting Bobby Carpenter. His silence has been loud. His signing of Kaepernick would be landmark. With one simple move, Jerry would no longer be the man that oversaw a quarter-century without sniffing a Super Bowl. He’d be the empathetic, endearing humanitarian deserving of his own statue at AT&T Stadium.
*NASCAR’s decision to ban Confederate flags was simultaneously stunning and spectacular. During my decades as a writer and radio broadcaster, I’ve traveled to racetracks in Fort Worth, Talladega, Daytona, Charlotte and Phoenix and seen more than my share of the “stars and bars” in infields and campgrounds along the way. I reached out to old friend and Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage to congratulate him and his peers for the banishment.
“What did you expect?” he said. “I love everybody, and I don’t understand why some folks don’t also. I believe 99 percent of people, including our fans, feel the same way.”
I was born and raised and lived in the “south” all my 55 years. Southern hospitality I get. Southern “heritage” I don’t.
In the Civil War, the South – under the Confederate flag – literally fought against the United States. One of the motivations was to maintain slavery. I just can’t comprehend how a Southerner can reconcile being loyal to both the United States’ flag and the Confederate flag. I don’t see many cars adorned with both Texas and OU bumper stickers, you? The Confederacy’s history should live in museums and history books, but not in public view in 2020. And it most certainly shouldn’t be romanticized.
There are, nonetheless, angry folks who claim to be “done with NASCAR” in the wake of the move. NASCAR can change messaging. But it can’t, unfortunately, change minds.
*Day 93 without sports … Wait, golf is a sport. And it’s being played right here in our backyard. When Ryan Palmer struck his tee shot at around 7 a.m. Thursday morning at the Colonial in Fort Worth, our world without sports officially ended. In the three months sans sports we stayed home, fixated on Joe Exotic and Michael Jordan, struggled with social distancing, drank a lot of alcohol and cringed at how quickly peaceful protests can deteriorate into rioting and looting.
In other words, welcome back, sports. We need you more than ever.
*Not to diminish America’s racial culture into a game, but you can see it more clearly through the sports lens. Goes like this: One group is convinced it’s “winning,” and will desperately protect every existing rule of the game to prevent any sort of comeback by its perceived opponent. The group that believes it is “losing,” conversely, is determined to alter the guidelines which it feels mandate an inherent disadvantage.
Barack Obama’s slogan: “Change.” Donald Trump’s slogan: “Change it back.” Presto, your tug-of-(race)-war.
*If you’ve been following along the past couple years, Dez Bryant vs. Jason Witten shouldn’t be all that surprising.
*The Texas Rangers selected Mississippi State second baseman Justin Foscue in Wednesday’s Major League Baseball draft, but that wasn’t the interesting part. The interesting part was that the draft has been trimmed to five rounds, down from – wait for it – 40! Try nailing that mock draft.
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*Ready to be conflicted? You’re a “man’s man” that makes a macho/political statement by not wearing a mask to protect you or others from COVID-19, even if it’s suggested by … Nolan Ryan? Yep, Big Tex – an icon in these parts just as much for steer-rasslin’ Robin Ventura as for flame-throwing seven no-hitters and 5,000 strikeouts – says in a new public service announcement that if you don’t wear a protective mask in public you’re a “knucklehead.”
I’m sure you can source “a guy on Facebook who said his doctor says masks are useless.” But I’ll stick with Nolan. Oh, and also coronavirus Presidential task force member Dr. Deborah Birx. “There’s clear scientific evidence now by all the droplet experiments that happen and that others have done to show that a mask does prevent droplets from reaching others," Birx said recently on Fox News Sunday. “Out of respect for each other, as Americans that care for each other we need to be wearing masks in public when we cannot social distance. It’s really critically important, we have the scientific evidence of how important mask wearing is to prevent those droplets from reaching others.”
*Does Jerry HAVE to say anything? Nope. But his choice to stay silent grows louder while Mavs owner Mark Cuban marches in protests, head-on addresses to white privilege and holds progressive “Courageous Conversations” on the steps of American Airlines Center.
Does Jerry HAVE to tweak his policy that forbids players kneeling during the anthem? Nope. But his rigid stance will attract even more criticism as his NFC East brethren make actionable changes to align with societal switches.
As a former NFL linebacker and son to a father who served 32 years in the U.S. Army, Washington Redskins’ head coach Ron Rivera said he will support his players kneeling.
“Black lives matter,” Rivera said. “We can’t be afraid to say it. I will say it again: Black lives matter.” Rivera announced his decision after re-reading the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Amendments and the Presidential Oath of Office. “(Kneeling) isn’t a protest against the flag or our military,” he said. “Never has been.”
Aided by a $250,000 donation by owner Daniel Snyder, the Redskins are also launching a Black Engagement Network intent on cultural understanding.
*While they’re at it, Washington’s NFL team should change its mascot from “Redskins” to “Americans.” Keep the logo and color scheme. Stop denigrating this land’s truly original inhabitants. Sell lots of new merchandise. Win-win-win.
*One of my fave all-time bands is Rage Against the Machine. So I found it hilarious this week when supposed “fans” of lead guitarist Tom Morello said they could no longer support the band in light of his “leftist political b.s.” that recently led him to rail against police brutality and systemic racism. Um, Tom and the boys called themselves Rage Against the … Machine. Did these “fans” think they were angry at ATMs? Or perhaps disgruntled by a balky air-conditioner? No, it was the Machine for crying out loud! Lyrics from one of their biggest hits, Killin’ In The Name: “some of those who work forces … are the same that burn crosses.” More than a song, it’s a documentary of 2020.
*Looks like Major League Soccer will be the first pro team league to resume playing. FC Dallas and the MLS are set to kick off July 8 in Orlando. Your inkling is to think – given the influx of NBA and MLS players – that Central Florida is about to experience a tourism boom. But without fans, will it even be negligible?
*Things aren’t great here on Earth, but there’s also a growing disturbance in a distant galaxy. Scientists have detected “fast, repeating radio bursts” from afar. How “afar”? Try three billion light years. (A light year is six trillion miles. So the sound is coming from the distance of three billion six trillions. Cue headache.) The sounds, first heard in 2007, continue for 90 days, stop for 67 days, and repeat the pattern. Aliens? Maybe. But, from that distance, the aliens that produced the noise could have been dead for hundreds of years.
*No excuses for the Cowboys when it comes to social distancing. At The Star in Frisco, they have 74 stalls in the main locker room, 30 in an adjacent room reserved for rookies and another 100 used by high school teams inside the nearby Ford Center. Just wondering if football helmets in 2020 will come equipped with, um, face masks?
*Coming to DFW: A 283-room, $85 million JW Marriott hotel in downtown Dallas. A $2 million Ocean Spray distribution hub south down on I-20.
*Gone from DFW: Café Express. Luby’s. Fuddruckers. Now let’s all pretend how fish squares and the “LuAnn Platter” were just soooo delicious.
*From the Dept. of We Are Creatures Of Habit: After sinking a par putt in Thursday’s first round of the Colonial, Phil Mickelson tipped his cap to … absolutely no one.
*No Spurs No! With LaMarcus Aldridge not returning for the season’s final eight games, the San Antonio Spurs’ unfathomable run of playoff appearances is in jeopardy. San Antonio has been in the postseason 29 of the last 30 years, the only absence coming in 1997 when they tanked the season in order to get the No. 1 pick in the draft a select a dude named Tim Duncan. The Spurs will arrive in Orlando trailing the 8-place Grizzlies by four games with eight games remaining.
*When’s the last time you “went” to a movie by doing anything more than surfing Netlfix? Cinemark theaters around DFW reopen June 19. But, seriously, going to a movie – the prices, the people talking, the sticky floors, the wearing of something other than pajama pants – is one of the things COVID-19 taught me I could live “happily ever after” without.
*My version of white privilege: I’ve been arrested twice (both for trespassing) and pulled over for traffic violations too many times to count. The times I was disrespected, mistreated, asked to get out of the car, physically manhandled, fearful of my life and/or shot: 0. Absolutely zero.
*With its sweat and scrums, rugby seems the least rational sport under COVID-19 guidelines. Good thing Dallas has until 2021 to get it right. Next year the Jackals will join Major League Rugby. The franchise, owned by a group that include Mavs’ general manager Donnie Nelson and Rangers’ co-owner Neil Leibman, will play in the baseball team’s old stomping grounds, Globe Life Park.
*During research and reporting for my Dallas Observer cover story on salon owner Shelley Luther, I reached out to her and her boyfriend, Tim Georgeff, with multiple interview requests. All denied. They didn’t, for whatever reason, choose to tell their side of the story on the glaring inconsistencies of championing “feeding my kids” with having multiple existing streams of revenue and a $500,000 ranch accented with exotic animals.
But now? Now Georgeff wants to talk.
His Facebook message to me: “You’re a terrible person that thinks it’s okay to try and make good people look bad. Even if I didn’t talk to you, that doesn’t mean that what you wrote is true.”
What I wrote is true, because it’s the truth.
*This Weekend? Friday: Golf. Saturday: Tennis. Sunday: Pool. Even after a three-month detour, I can remember this routine. As always, don’t be a stranger.