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The ‘Slave Side’ of NFL Sundays

Posted on Mar 9, 2006
James Prior

In his new book, “The Slave Side of Sunday,” former NFL player Anthony Prior writes about the legacy of racism in professional sports.

By James Harris

(Page 3)

So in that respect it’s not the “40 acres” argument, it’s kind of a black community introspective, it’s saying, hey, this is what we need to change and this is why we need to change it.  Kids are affected, athletes are affected, and ultimately the black community is affected by this lack of action in the NFL.

Absolutely.  Gene Upshaw cannot make no changes. The person that can make the chance is the assembly of black players. Individually people can shout, and have rhetoric and talk all day long. But when you assemble, you come together as a group, that’s powerful. 

I’m talking to a gentleman by the name of Robert Morris who is the founder and CEO of a group called Center for Diversity. He says—and I think you guys agree on this—he says that black people need a shift in mind-set. His quote is that blacks collectively need to understand that the NFL is about profit and not about humanitarian efforts. 

So I think Morris is saying that it is about capitalism, it is about money, and so these people put money in the hands and control of teams in the hands of people they’re close to and people that they grew up with.  I think that the problems you mention with regard to the lack of diversity and the lack of true commitment to getting black people in there is problematic, just like affirmative action has become problematic in that people are trying to fill quotas. 


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People are trying to respond to things like the Rooney rule—.

Yeah. (laughs)

That’s where affirmative action goes wrong, that’s where diversity programs go wrong. How could the NFL solve that political issue, how could they move past just saying “hey we’re gonna interview a black guy” into an area where they’d actually consider a black guy?

We’ve got to take some of the control out of their hands and into the hands of players, to have a little more of a balance when it comes to hiring coaches, when it comes to hiring a leader to try to take team into the Superbowl and win a championship. 

If I’m a player, man! I wanna have some say-so of what coach and what philosophy he’s bringing in. You know, when the head coach and the team is about to sign a free agent, a high-profile player, there’s dialogue between the coach and players: “We’re gonna bring him, what do you guys think about it?” 

It’s the same thing with Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens they were talkin’ at the Super Bowl. Dovovan was puttin’ in word to the coaches and the coaches were talking with teammates—“we’re gonna bring in Terrell Owens”—and everybody agreed!

So we need to have that same opportunity when a coach comes in, we gotta have a better relationship with the president and the general manager. He needs to come down and say we’re gonna hire a few coaches, we got five on our list, and then the president and the general manager can address the team, with the coach’s qualifications, his philosophy, and see if he’s the best man for the job—based on his qualifications, not on his skin color.

Why don’t more players say “I want 10 million dollars, plus 6 million dollars of equity in this team?” Why don’t more players actually have written into their contract—I want team equity—so then it becomes a shared ownership, then they start to care about some of the decisions that are made?

They’re involved in the managerial process, they’re involved in the capitalist process, and it’s not just a social argument, it’s not just “do this for me because I get help or I need help or I was discriminated in the past,” it’s because I have equity in this team and I care about this team and I value this team. It surprises me that more players haven’t done that. What do you think about that?

Too many players have that impoverished mind, you know? They feel they’re money’s gonna run out, so they gotta get all they can while they can, while they’re able to perform. They don’t have that type of mind-set. That is something that can be educated to the young, the teenagers coming up. 

The players that are presently in the NFL today—you’ve got a few warriors here and there, you got a few that have a consciousness to speak out, a consciousness for better compensation, but they feel that they are gonna be blackballed. 

That’s why you gotta have a voice, you gotta have something separate from the NFL players association. You gotta have a black voice, you gotta have a black players association so issues like that policies can be written in bylaws, that can be effective. 

Until you have a bylaw, you have a policy, ideas are just great [gravy].

Can a group of black NFL professionals really come together and really make a change?

Absolutely. I think it would be great to get some ex-players, that have contributed very well to the NFL, establish that outside voice, be able to have policies to where some of the profits these NFL owners have—they could go into where they recruit their players, some of these ghettos in America where they’re getting their prize-winning machines, you know start developing some of these communities, you know, policies like that.

That way everybody benefits. Because right now we got great individual achievement in our communities and our cities, but collectively, black people, we’re not—we have some, that collectively have a strong voice collectively gettin’ things done, but we need to see it more on a bigger scale.

And perhaps the book, “Slave Side of Sunday,” will be a start to that coming together.

Just last night I was hosting and I gave a presentation at the Fontana NAACP viewing party of the NAACP Image Awards last night, and there was over 200 people there, really first class. I got a chance to really let loose and let ‘em know what’s coming and I had over 50 people pre-order the book, so they wanna put a book show on for me, so, you know—

It starts with the community first, and if the community doesn’t back you, you’re not gonna be heard. So right now the campaign has started, and thanks for you giving me this radio interview. It all just gets the ball rolling. 

The “Slave Side of Sunday,” Stone Hold Books, tell us a little bit about who publishes that book. 

Stone Hold Books, that’s my publishing company. I started it in 2003, because when I first wrote a proposal, I sent my proposal out to major publishers, and a few got back to me, but they said they wanted to turn my story into a fiction story and change the title.

They said it’s gonna take about a year, year and a half to get the book out. 

So I said to myself no way, can’t nobody tell my story better than me. I’m not gonna put my dream, my vision on hold for nobody.

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By Livia, January 1, 2007 at 1:24 am Link to this comment
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Boo hoo. They should sit in a cubicle 9 hours a day, for a tiny fraction of what they are paid, for just one week in uncomfortable shoes, see how the rest of us live, then see if slavery describes their situation any more accurately than what the rest of us experience in the workplace every day. I don’t make the rules either. I work for a corporation that holds my life in its hands too. I am nothing but part of a labor force, but unlike pro football players, I don’t have a contract. Maybe pro football players’ bosses just want them to do what they are hired to do. Maybe it isn’t about black manhood. Oh, the part about football players wanting to be more than a beast on the field was funny at least.

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By larry armstrong, December 29, 2006 at 1:46 am Link to this comment
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for 400 years, whites has been controlling our ideas and thoughts, For a change let this mans observation be valid.  After all he has seen the system from the inside.  For too long in America the dominate race has enjoyed the power to be right at all cost.  Let this be the message for the Black race to capitalize the wealth that they produce.  How would you feel if all the smrtest white take their talents to historical Black schools.  The day will nerver come when Hampton University will be the national champs.  I as a Black will nerver in my lifetime have a feeling of “we are the best”.  Power concedes nothing>  But you all know that.  he white mans ice is always colder.  55y.o Viet Nam vet and still a Black Panther

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By Stephen Yorke, November 30, 2006 at 11:30 am Link to this comment
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Anthony Prior is full of shit. He has the nerve to try and represent blackness and speak out on the slave mentality of the NFL. How many times has he returned to Rubidoux, where he got his start, and contributed his time, resources, or lent his name to ANYTHING? He wasn’t speaking out against these things while Whitey was signing those checks! Now since the well from the football spring has run dry he wants to have a platform to speak out against the same system he allowed to pimp him. I am not saying people cannot change or develop as the years go by, but it just seems real hypocritical that an individual such as Mr. Prior is writing a book like this. For all those who are thinking of endorsing or buying this book, do your homework and check this dudes paperwork in black community that help to make him.

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By Cale Collins, October 22, 2006 at 6:42 pm Link to this comment
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black this black that, whity no good etc.
who if the same text were rewritten and said I’m Mr Super XYZ in the engineering field and all these blacks that I see-20% of the engineering workforce are all inferior andare only here b/c of afirmative action…what would I be?  RACIST!

and he wants to be able to determine the coach, heh buddy since you have never held a REAL job, let me tell ya you don’t get to decide that kinda thing ANYWHERE!!!  The will (as in my case) transfer ya to a new sales territory where things are not going well… didi they ask me???? NO, they said get ready to roll and find out where the customers are and start selling we don’t care how well you knew the customers and how much you brought in to the company in the old territory…take it or leave it…and my manager is black, with an MBA and he is a great man did I ever think the reason I got the dump was racisim???? no I came from the top HQ…just roll with it baby and try to do the job feed the family and take care of business…and as many have already stated if you can ever get me a slot and pay me a measly million I’ll quit my job and all the benefits and seniority I have built up and take it no matter where and for whom you want me warm the freaking bench for count me in…

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By Jon, September 12, 2006 at 5:22 am Link to this comment
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“In the NFL, 65% of the player force—as you know and well document in the text—are black. Six percent of the general managers are black”

If 6 percent of the black general managers are too little, then 65% of the black players are too much.

I say lets racially integrated the players and reduce the 65% to low teens.

As a 170 lbs non-athletic built male, I demand the quota of being a bench warmer with $5 million annual salary. You can call it a quota but I call it integration.

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By Dominic Maionchi, September 8, 2006 at 8:52 am Link to this comment
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If it makes the author feel any better most white people are also slaves to the ruling class that includes the owners of all the major sports teams, most members of Congress, corporate executives, and the President.  I hope that makes young black men and women feel better.  We are all sitting on the back of the bus together now while these elites fly around in private jets. 

Lets get their names together.  They are the problem and its not because they are white.  In the meantime sign me up for some of that Sunday slavery.  I could use a few million.

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By David Simpson, September 7, 2006 at 9:16 pm Link to this comment
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Thank you James for doing this interview. The comments from the readership are also enlightening, though sometimes saddening. The important point is NOT whether Prior really believes that black atheletes are slaves, metaphorically or literally. The most important point he makes is that an awful lot of poor kids (many of whom are black) are virtually abandoned in an often violent sea of consumerism - and are informed that sports is their ticket out. Sports can teach great lessons, but it’s a heartless and shameful lie to convey to kids that there’s a ticket to happiness through professional sports. We - you, me, Prior and James - need to spend time with real kids, providing real help and real compassion. No amount of “bullshiting” - public or private - will take the place of hard work and long term commitment. (As for working to have Black people own part of the system as it currently stand (e.g. become an owner) = that would be priority number 8 billion for me. I don’t care what color the person is that profits from this corrupt system. Bush, Powell, Rice, Rumsfeld - they all lie. What difference does it make that two have (slightly)darker skin than the other two?

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By Roger, September 7, 2006 at 3:26 pm Link to this comment
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I found the discussion on this issue to be thought-provoking and interesting.

I would also like to take this opportunity to ask David Wilson if he would mind contacting me by e-mail to discuss his professional tennis-playing career.  I am a university history professor and I have been doing some serious research on the history of African American tennis players for the last several years, gathering information about their lives and playing experiences.  If Mr. Wilson re-visits this web-site, I would appreciate it if he would contact me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address); thanks!

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By Sports guy, August 30, 2006 at 8:30 pm Link to this comment
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The plantation is back and the slaves are working it?  COUNT ME IN!!!  If making obscene amounts of money and getting to spend it in whichever way I please makes me a slave, count me in.  Sure beats sports writing!!

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By caliban59, August 29, 2006 at 1:00 pm Link to this comment
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To Ann:

Mighty bit of assumptions you make there…

Just for the record and to disabuse you of your assumptions: I was born poor in Jersey City, NJ; got to college on a scholarship I earned; worked my way through college (I got $100 from my parents and they never visited me at college although I was the first one in either my mother’s or father’s side of the family to go to college). Graduated and became a teacher in inner city Jersey City and had primarily black students; later became a lawyer and worked as a special ed advocate for special needs children in Massachusetts- mainly black and hispanic; worked in Juvenile Court with again, mainly black and hispanic children.

I saw first hand the over-emphasis on sports as a way out for minorities. I advocated and struggled to convince kids that an education was far more valuable than sports. Tried to giive them a positive role model. I have never ‘idolized’ athletes; I saw how bone-headed most of the athletes I knew in HS and college were; mainly from being treated as ‘special.’

But I also have coached kids in baseball, soccer, and ice hockey for the last 20 years trying to teach them that sports are a tool- not an end- to hopefully, becoming a better person. The lessons of sports can teach the lessons of life; without glorifying the athlete.

The mere fact that this guy gets a forum to air his odd views shows how far off base America is regarding education and sports. And I will say it again:

until the vast majority of blacks push education and not sports; they will never advance in our society. Only 1 in 13,000 kids ever gets paid to play sports. But a college education is your own best gift to your self.

I know I have and will continue to fight this battle: education over sports. And I will call out racists comments as I see them.

And when I was interviewed by my local TV station in Massachusetts about the issue of race in the higher incidence of minorities arrested and involved in court; I pointed out that the crucial thing tying all my clients together was not race; rather it was economics. 99% of the people I dealt with in court were poor; be they black or white or brown. To understand why, perhaps you should read “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn.

By the by,  I do think you mis-read my post.

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By Truth, August 29, 2006 at 9:20 am Link to this comment
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What a load of crap!!!  Professional athletes in the early years have a helluva lot more to gripe about than these spoiled millionaires who play a game for a living.  Slaves?  How dare you compare yourselves to slaves?  I know you got by school because you were an athlete, but even a retard could tell the difference between a slave and the trauma of being a professional athlete.  I have no idea why a supposed “progressive” organization like truthdig would waste space for the whinings of spoiled athletes who lacked the education to invest wisely and lacked the common sense to save their money.  Life is a B*tch, and I am happy that Professional athletes after years of being spoiled for their athletic prowness are not realizing the importance of knowledge.  The most pathetic charge is the hackneyed charge of racism.  I am just bewildered.  Why not invest back into the innercity, and why not become a role model.  No you don’t want to be a role model for the thousands of fatherless kids out there.  You have too much time practicing your endzone dance.  Bullsh*t.  And now you claim that you are “slave” making a wage millions would only hope of making.  Pathetic is too kind of term to describe the modern day Professional athletes.  Enough.

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By mill, August 23, 2006 at 8:33 pm Link to this comment
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the Minnesota Vikings were sold recently .. I didn’t hear the previous owner turn down any offers from Black ownership groups .... they did sell a small-market franchise for some 600 million tho to some guy out of NY

plantation capitalism?  there are more important injustices being perpetrated than what the NFL is about ... 

like the same few US troops being forced to do tour after tour after tour in Iraq ... while the rich have the President push to have their tax bills reduced .... and leave their sons and daughters draft-free

... what was the color of that NFL player who was killed during his active duty in Afghanistan?
thank g-d at least his friendly fire death wasn’t attributed to racism against NFL players serving in the military .....  how many are there ... ?

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By givemeabreak, August 23, 2006 at 2:37 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

sound like slaves to you???

Atwater and the other players sued the NFL and the players’ union on June 23 for recommending unfit financial advisers.

The players want to be reimbursed for their $20 million in losses and to see the union improve its screening of fund managers.

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By George, August 23, 2006 at 2:21 pm Link to this comment
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People seem to have very short memories. At one time, Jews dominated basketball (I am talking near the turn-of-the-century). The mainstream public decried the situation and rationalized it by saying jews were unfairly physically superior (sound familiar?). Flash forward to today. We have a similar situation with American Blacks. What many blacks do lack in comparison to those early jewish players is: a) A strong and united nuclear family with a present father in the home, and b) and ethic that values scholastic and intellectual achievement.
Ok, sit down. Let me explain.
Male Blacks, have few role models when raised in a matriarchal family. Because of this lack, they tend to emmulate the “coolest” guys they know. Their values are geared toward “bling” “hos” and “rollin’ on dubs”. In other words, materialism. The assertation that whites are physically inferior is laughable. The truth is that many blacks use sports as a male-bonding experience at an early age. Of course they will be more capable, they have been doing it since an early age. If you really want to look at how little race plays a part in sports, look no further than boxing. All six heavyweight titles are held by east european whites. Does this make whites superior? Of course not, one need only to think of Ali or Robinson. At one time, boxing pundits lamented the lack of white boxers and said boxing was in danger of becoming extinct in the U.S. What has been killing boxing is not race but greed in the name of “pay-per-view”
If American Blacks thought more of themselves than trained objects, and considered their intellectual abilities, there would be more black managers, coaches, etc. But we all know how “uncool” it is to be good in math, or literature, or to have great grades, right?
Stop whining and break open a book instead of hitting the blacktop, then talk about racism.

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By Ann, August 22, 2006 at 6:15 am Link to this comment
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caliban59 you are the worst kind of bigot—jealous.

you are probably a white liberal, the biggest danger to any person black who ends up under your direction.

When I was a child, I told my teacher that I wanted to be a lawyer. I was told by my teacher that I was special so I should learn how to type. One day she could see me working as a typist in a “big” company. My parents agreed with this teacher, because she was nice and knew what she was talking about and would not lead us astray.

We had a number of “nice” white teachers who directed us to do support work for companies.

We did not sit around blaming others for our condition. We did take advice from seemingly “nice” white folk with our best interests at heart, who would direct us on the right paths in life based on ability and desire.

Blacks, at the bottom, today are caught in an endless loop of missed opportunities, because they are being parented by people who do not know how to parent for success, but for survival.

Hard working parents who have not one thin penny to place their children in programs that require payment. Programs that were once free, but have now been sacrificed in an effort to save money and use it elsewhere within the failing educational system that is America.

No money for children’s afterschool programs that are free for people who have no extra money or disposable income.

It is easy to sit from where you do and see people as being useless and self-destructive when you had access to programs that engaged you, protected you, and taught you beyond what school provided.

These people do not give you a thought or blame you for anything, but they would love to have what you have, but don’t know how to go about the right way of getting it, because they were never shown how.

You are worried about a few rich blacks and show contempt to the million more who would kill for the opportunity to learn what it takes to have what you have. They are not jealous of you as a white man, because they know that black people have it too. They are not jealous of what you have, but of how and what do they need to do to get what you have. They short circuit the process by “stealing” because they have no leaders in their schools or neighborhoods they can mimic from, when their parents are at work all day and their are no free afterschool programs to attend because of a lack of funding. The people in their neighborhoods are hard working, but poor and therefore don’t have the answers for them.

Folks like you sit where you sit and judge without contributing.

Behavior is changeable, but not from your where you sit.

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By Ann, August 22, 2006 at 5:51 am Link to this comment
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I am often surprised by people who speak to a condition they do not represent. People who are advocating for or against a condition they do not live.

People who have the “outward appearance of blackness” but who have the mentality of their true race.

Bryant Gumbel
Tiger Woods
Bill Cosby
James Harris

There are plenty of others who have not lived the black experience, but are rabidly bigotted against their own kind.

You guys are the worst part of Martin’s dream.

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By Malcolm Steinberg, August 18, 2006 at 5:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks for a nice provocative interview…and that is provocative alright.

Race is a minor issue compared to what I hear you saying…that is someone(the owner) of a company(the athletic team) must become an ESOP(employee stock ownership plan) and run the company according to ‘democratic’ principles.

Hello? What is more revolutionary? What I think has nothing to do with it.

Best of luck with your ambitions, Mr Pryor, but ownership whether African, Asian, White Black or Green aint gonna volunteer for that idea or action. But dreams are good, I guess.

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By David Wilson, August 17, 2006 at 3:01 pm Link to this comment
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Until the issue of racism is confronted in the U.S., nothing will ever change. That white people, some of whom commented here, attempt to use the word racism when talking about a black man shows the comfort level power white people possess with their ignorance.

Power is implicit in the act of racism. If one hasn’t power over another - perceived or not - they cannot be racist. Prejudiced, yes, racist, no.

Now, if you don’t believe the NFL (and all of sports, for that matter) is racist in nature, please explain how Peyton Manning can sit with Jack Nicklaus and have a discussion on national television (CBS) about winning? How can Manning, a perennial loser, be the face of the NFL?

Remember, Manning has won No big game in his entire football career. At Tennessee he left a loser. The following season black quarterback Tee Martin, with essentially the same team, led Tennessee to the national championship. And yet Manning is celebrated as a hero in Knoxville! We all know Manning’s inability to win a meaningful game in the NFL, yet he is THE face of the league.

Look at the treatment of Terrell Owens by the media and, like the sheep you are, the remainder of the country. It has only been mentioned twice that Owens was promised “to be taken care of” by the Jeffery Lurie and Andy Reid: once in an article in the Philadelphia Daily News about 1 1/2 years ago and once early this week by ESPN cast member Woody Paige.

Why is the FACT that Owens was begged by Eagles management to play in the Super Bowl and promised riches the following season if he did not THE story surrounding the Eagles?

If you fast-forward to the present, why is the fact that Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers sat out exactly as many practices as Owens has recently, WITH THE SAME INJURY, not mentioned by the press??? Why? Because Owens is perceived as an uppity nigger, that’s why.

ANY black player with the temerity to speak out against the team that OWNS him will get summarily pimp-slapped by the team and the lackey press that sucks the ass of management in order to get what they perceive as a scoop at some point in time.

How do I know?

I played professional tennis, albeit mostly on the Challenger circuit (and we all know the racism in tennis - or maybe you don’t… FACT. Not one black tennis player has EVER been provided money from the United States Tennis Association - EVER!!!! Meanwhile guys like Michael Chang, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi received money as junior players AND received $50K a year from the USTA as pros - until they were outed… did any of you know that at one time there were three black male junior tennis players ranked in the top-15 in the U.S. at the same time, nos. 1, 7, and 12 and NONE received ANY help from the USTA!). I also was a sports journalist, covering everything from high school baseball to professional football.

AND, I’m black.

Finally, did any of you know that black men have a better chance of becoming a pro athlete than we do a sports writer for a major daily newspaper (based on 300 daily newspapers across the U.S.)?

Now THAT’S progress.

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By Michiel A., August 15, 2006 at 9:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re: Patrick-Living, #13619:
I’m not even going to comment on the rest, but as to why Larry Johnson left the NBA?

“On October 10, 2001 Johnson announced his early retirement from basketball due to chronic back problems that had plagued him for several years, after his point production decreased for five straight years.”

That’s from the source you yourself provided. Production going down for years and an ending rich maximum contract. Who knows, maybe he wanted a contract similar to what he had and nobody was willing to give that to a loves-to-get-physical 32 year old forward with a bad back whose numbers were heading south for years.
But maybe I’m missing a conspiracy theory here…

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By Todd, August 15, 2006 at 5:41 am Link to this comment
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First, I’ve known NFL players, both black and white.  It is a meat market, and a business, and management don’t really care if you are black or white.  When your usefulness is done, you’re out, plain and simple.  Every argument that Prior makes is either not based in fact or just simple whining.  Here are the simple facts.

Why are there no guaranteed contracts in football?  Because the player’s union gave in on that for other big money concessions.

Why are team owners all white?  Unlike most sports, the NFL does not allow corporate ownership and, in fact, many teams are still owned by the families that started them.  Very few NFL teams even come up for sale.  And those that have, in many cases, are only their second owners.  The Raiders, Steelers, Bears, Giants, Jets, Dolphins, Redskins, Cowboys, Rams, Bills, Chiefs, etc., etc., are either on their original owners, second owners, and / or have not been up for sale in many many years.  Yes, there are more, but I didn’t want to take the time to list them all.

Why are college athletics a minor league system?  Because the athletes allow it.  Football actually has the best record of keeping kids in school.  Very, very few NBA players went through 4 years of school, many stars leaving after a year at most.  And that it would have been worse until the NBA banned drafting of high schoolers.  Many baseball players never even go to college.  These kids, wether you want to believe it or not, are getting a FREE college education at some of the finest schools in the country.  Isn’t the lack of educational opportunity for blacks a rallying cry?  If so, then why do these same people literally throw away that opportunity when it presents itself.  The lure of greed is as pervasive among blacks as it is among any other race.

Finally, if Prior thought the system he played in was racist and “slavery”, he didn’t have to stay there.

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By Patrick-Living in Thailand, July 12, 2006 at 6:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Okay…it’s about time at least one Black athlete stood up to say something about this issue. Remember when Larry “Gran ma-ma” Johnson referred to the Knicks as a “band of rebellious slaves”…wait, read it for yourself… Whatever happened to ‘ole Grandma-ma?’ He disappeared-quickly. Why is it “racism” when Blacks attempt to control their own destiny? Why are people afraid when the Black male takes on the ‘Shah-nana’ role with the hands on their hips and head bobbing, “Uh uhn, gurl, not today!” It’s so humorous when Black women do it, and less “threatening” -they are very serious, you know?
Black men can’t be serious. When you are 7’4” tall and weigh over 300lbs., you have to break-dance under the basketball hoop, instead of speaking about a serious topic-Discrimination. You don’t want to frighten them! So, Black athletes tend to take their aggression and anger out on each other, at the Club. No worries if you kill another Black person and you a star linebacker, ‘Massah will bail you out’, and he need you to continue to turn a profit. Besides, now he really has you by the jock strap.
Most comments made in this section are right on! Nelson Mandela said in his 1994 Inaugural Address: “Your playing small does not serve the World.” Name another race of people who were breed to be large, other than the Black slave. Slaves were bred by owners to be strong, healthy, big, etc., now people are afraid. Oh, oh, now I see…they were bred to be physically strong but mentally weak. And, if you have the mentality to say what is on your mind as Anthony Prior does in his book, then you are certainly frightening.
Personally, I see the Truthdig and Anthony Prior combination as the Tommie Smith and John Carlos of sports activism in the 21st century. Keep your fist raised high!

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By Patrick-Living in Thailand, July 12, 2006 at 6:25 am Link to this comment
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Okay…it’s about time at least one Black athlete stood up to say something about this issue. Remember when Larry “Gran ma-ma” Johnson referred to the Knicks as a “band of rebellious slaves”…wait, read it for yourself… Whatever happened to ‘ole Grandma-ma?’ He disappeared-quickly. Why is it “racism” when Blacks attempt to control their own destiny? Why are people afraid when the Black male takes on the ‘Shah-nana’ role with the hands on their hips and head bobbing, “Uh un gurl, not today!” It’s so humorous when Black women do it, and less “threatening” -they are very serious, you know?

Black men can’t be serious. When you are 7’4” tall and weigh over 300lbs., you have to break-dance under the basketball hoop, instead of speaking about a serious topic-Discrimination. You don’t want to frighten them! So, Black athletes tend to take their aggression and anger out on each other, at the Club. No worries if you kill another Black person and you a star linebacker, ‘Massah will bail you out’, and he need you to continue to turn a profit. Besides, now he really has you by the jock strap.

Most comments made in this section are right on! Nelson Mandela said in his 1994 Inaugural Address: “Your playing small does not serve the World.” Name another race of people who were breed to be large, other than the Black slave. Slaves were breed by owners to be strong, healthy, big, etc., now people are afraid. Oh, oh, now I see…they were breed to be physically strong but mentally weak. And, if you have the mentality to say what is on your mind as Anthony Prior does in his book, then you are certainly frightening.

Personally, I see the Truthdig and Anthony Prior combination as the Tommie Smith and John Carlos of sports activism in the 21st century. Keep your fist raised high!

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By Ms. R. Savedra Varela, June 2, 2006 at 3:31 pm Link to this comment
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Okay I was not gonna comment but I have to after reading the others.  I had the opportunity in my life to personally meet and know the author.  He is not a racist, if you all knew his family-you would know this as a fact.  His writing or the point he has tried to stress has been simply misinterpreted.  He is not whining that he had played in the NFL and CFL but to the contrary knows he has been blessed with the opportunity to do so but in the midst of it all experienced much racism and inferior treatment as was in the days of slavery.  He doesn’t say he is a slave as back in the days but stresses the similarity and how it still exists today.  He is simply sharing his experience and exposing what goes on within such organizations.  Although he continues to experience much critism for his writings, you must give him props for speaking the Truth.  God loves the Truth-for He is Truth.
Much Luv AP! Peace

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By Joe Konn, March 17, 2006 at 3:04 pm Link to this comment
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Geoffery Spear has spoken truly.  Anyone in this society who can work for ‘the man’ for 5 or 10 years then spend the rest of his life doing just what he pleases has little to complain about. 

I have worked hard all of my life, working with kids to teach something about freedom, never made much, less than $100k in my best year.  I am retired and have to worry about health insurance, the bills and inflation.  Class is the issue in America, certainly race is associated with class affiliation, but a rich Black man, while not truly wealthy, is one hell of a lot better off than 95% of white, Asian and Hispanic and etc. Americans.  And please don’t mention that while Mr. Prior was being taken advantage of all those years, decent people, children, were dying all over the world.  Death, that is oppression.  Slavery as a concept can be tossed around easily by people with great advantage, but $1 a day for children making rugs or his Nike cleats, that is slavery.

Anthony Prior, shame on you, quit whimpering, stop writing this baloney.  If you want to actually do something, consider the oppression which allows a wealthy few to crush billions of simple decent folks of every race all over the world.

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By Rob, March 16, 2006 at 7:46 pm Link to this comment
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White privilege, and specifically white male privilege, is a real hard shot of reality for some. And for far too many US males it is simply an incomprehensible concept.

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By Dave Macaray, March 15, 2006 at 10:39 am Link to this comment
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By using the term “slavery,” Prior not only insulted, degraded and trivialized the historical exploitation of black Americans, he revealed himself to be a clown. 

Did he have something significant to say?  Probably.  Should we pay attention to him? Probably not.

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By Geoffrey Spear, March 15, 2006 at 10:27 am Link to this comment
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Oh please. 

There is a race gap between owners and players.  That’s obvious.  It’s even plausible that racism is directly responsible for this gap.

But to equate black multi-millionaires with slaves is absolutely ridiculous. And to suggest that only black players are being exploited by the NFL is just as ridiculous.  White players are part of the same economic system where the owners make huge profits and pay the players huge salaries that are a fraction of the money they generate.

But guess what, poor oppressed former football player… every single person in our society who works at all is being “oppressed” a lot worse than you and your overpaid buddies.  Capitalism works that way.  All of us white workers are producing excess value for our employers, too, and we’re paid a lot less than you.  If you’re a slave, the white CEO at some Fortune 500 company who’s making millions of dollars but not being given every penny the corporation earns is a slave, too.  And so are the rest of us, but we don’t get to be rich slaves.

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By Mike Germain, March 15, 2006 at 8:51 am Link to this comment
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Give me a break!  How much money did Mr. Prior make?  Probably quite a bit more than say, a white secretary, or a black waitress.  Is corporate management racist?  No kidding!  It is also elitist, classist, and protectionist.  Protecting itself.  Prior’s bogus premise completely misses the point that it is kids of all ethnic backgrounds being snowjobbed into believing that pro sports is their ticket out of the real world.  Perhaps if we lived in a society with real opportunity racists like Anthony Prior would not get to make money on a book, after making more money than any middle class person I know will make in their lifetime.

Our society is owned in whole by an aggressive elite that likes to turn segments of society against itself.  Mr. Prior obviously doesn’t care about reality.

It is truly astonishing when an African-American makes such xenephobic and racist comments it is ok, but anyone else gets shishkabobbed.

I would prefer to see more black coaches in pro sports.  But when you get right down to it, pro sports is a world I cannot relate to anyway.  All pro athletes make more money than any of us real people, regardless of race, will ever see.

The real indictment ought to be the greedy nature of the wealthy scum who seem to think that ALL of us, regardless of race, are just human fodder to serve their selfish ends.

When people like Anthony Prior, who have profitted handsomely from the system, start pathetic finger pointing like this, it only serves the purpose of the totalitarian owners of this country.  Perhaps he missed history class when he was skating through college on his football scholarship.  I attended all of my classes because me an my family had to pay.

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By antwaun bolden, March 14, 2006 at 8:08 pm Link to this comment
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First i woiuld like to say that you arent eevn print this. You call yourself truthdig, but you will be hiding the truth. I know this Anthony Prior personally and what he has to say contradictics his whole up bringing. In highschool he wasn’t a blackman! Yes his skin was black, but his mentallity wasn’t. There were many people on his team who should been in the NFL, was heavily more talented then he, who would love to had played in this game. All the beliefs hate stated in the book are other people’s ideas; Charles Barkely, Harry Edwards, Terrell Owens, etc. My argument is i’m tired of the wrong person trying to tell a true story, when they arent true to themselves.

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By Dave, March 14, 2006 at 3:53 pm Link to this comment
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First off thanks to truthdig for giving exposure to a self published author and allowing him to add this important point of view to the general debate about the state of professional sports. I can see how this article can seem racist to some whites. Many of us live a lifestyle in which we don’t have to ever think about race because absolutely everyone we associate with is white. These whites are the first to whine when someone brings up the subject mostly because it makes them uncomfortable. In a sense they are right. An article with this degree of racial content would seem to racist. . . to them. I get that.

I saw the interview as far from racist. In fact. Mr Prior recognises that power concedes nothing without a struggle; and the more organised the struggle the more effective it can be. His conclusion that the current power dynamic in pro sports is analogous to a plantation is actually understated. Most plantations had a far higher ratio of black house slaves to black field slaves or black house slaves to white owners than the ratios of black players to black management or black management to white management and/or owners found in professional sports organizations.

  I listened to the entire audio interview. His ideas about first creating a black players union and then, through that organised power block, lobbying for more control over key processes such as player/coach selection are a step in the right direction indeed. Leaders would emerge from such a union. Those leaders could in turn work within the system, long after their career on the field has concluded, to find/groom/mentor qualified black staff;  evangelise rich blacks as to the benefits of team ownership; or even negotiate player contracts that include team equity just like most other publicly traded corporations in need of highly trained specialists would do for an employee.

Once you have blacks better represented throughout the entire hierarchy from ownership ( there are currently NO black owners . . . HUH?? ) down to waterboy; things will have to change. To his credit, the author sees this as the goal.

The point is not lost on him that there is no reason why an organised body of black players cannot use their majority status, money, and key position within the system to make the requisite changes. I mean if an impoverished and much hated black majority south african populace can end apartheid, and a systematically disenfranchised, much hated group of black slave descendants can bootstrap a civil rights movement in the jim crow south, then there is no reason why a bunch of relatively wealthy black players beloved by sports fans world-wide can’t begin to intelligently throw their weight around in the pro sports establishment to get what they want. You can bet your last dime that the system will react violently and lots of dirty tricks will be unleashed on the black players and the black players union in order to get them to settle for far less or disband completely. Yet at the end of the day a black players union would hold many, if not all, the cards and their demands would not be ignored or denied. Money is the achilles heal of power. The black players generate most of the money. As long as they remain out for self nothing will change. I got the impression that Mr. Prior clearly understands this dynamic.

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By rashock, March 14, 2006 at 6:51 am Link to this comment
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It is nice to know that once 100% black representation has been achieved in the NFL, the athletically inferior white folks can still play arena football.  Where does that leave us Asians?  Oh yeah, we have an even further condensed ping-pong table to demonstrate our athletic inferiority.  It’s all making sense now. 

I agree with Andrew Lighthall.  This is insulting and makes me wonder what truth dig has to offer.  Hopefully, something more enlightened than Mr. Prior’s opinion.

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By Blazing Writer, March 12, 2006 at 4:16 pm Link to this comment
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Andrew Lighthall? Are you serious?  What is so racist about Prior’s argument?  I find these comments useful only when people validate their remarks with factual support.  Perhaps he said something you don’t want to hear, does that make him racist. 

Fyi: to be a racist, you must have an intrinsic effect on a large group of people—sometimes they call this group a minority. 

Prior is saying Blacks are being used by a system because they approach it blindly and sometimes ignorantly.  That sounds like a charge at the Black race collectively more so than a charge at white people.  Did he say “the man” drives me like a slavemaster and I am helpless? Or did he say Blacks have the power to be empowered and they need to work harder to educate youth and active players?

So stop these ridiculous charges of racism and recognize that he [Prior] is inviting everyone to join the fight in empowering a community.

A blazin’ writer…

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By Andrew Lighthall, March 12, 2006 at 2:09 am Link to this comment
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This man is a racist.  Period.  And having his interview on truthdig is insulting to those of us who visit this site.  Just another minority putting more effort into blaming “whitey” than actually doing something for his “people”.

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By GuitarsandMore, March 12, 2006 at 12:55 am Link to this comment
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First, as a general rule black men are athletically superior to white men.  The black man has a longer reach and they are generally taller, larger, and faster.  It’s just a fact that’s all. Having said that consider this:
The reason that Football players, Baseball Players, and Basketball players are paid the very good salaries they are paid today is because they stuck together in the same union and demanded more money.  To have a separate union for black players and white players is going down the road of divide and conquer and is sure to lose ground for all of the players both black and white.  You have to organize strikes together, not separately.  Stay together.
As far as the complaints about the way players are treated, well, welcome to corporate America my friend.  Do you think the rest of us don’t go to work and suffer the same abuses and humiliations you have described in your interview and more?  Geeze louize. Most of us don’t get paid all that much money either.
Second, there are also standout white players and you know it.  That’s a lame argument.   
Remember also, Football is just a game.  You are an entertainer in the entertainment business.  Your viewers are both black and white and the teams should look like that too otherwise you risk losing your audience and the add money dries up.  There have been very few TV shows that are all black and very successful.  Stay mixed and stay successful.
I don’t know of anybody who wants to get rid of all black players and I don’t believe it.

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By John Howard, March 11, 2006 at 10:04 am Link to this comment
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I actually found the interview very interesting and informative so I will leave that alone in my response. I think the first comment reveals the insecurity of many whites.  I am a white male, but am not at all threatened by an interview where a guy is saying Blacks place too much value on sports and that Blacks need to shift their focus and become more academic about life.  How is that racist?  As a white person, the toughest thing for me to learn is that I won’t and don’t understand all problems racial, but I can at least let down my defenses and hear them without any anger in my heart.

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By caliban59, March 10, 2006 at 7:31 am Link to this comment
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I would absolutely agree with his argument about blacks and their treatment in the NFL and NBA- but isn’t a bit of their problem self-inflicted? That is, since the players are not really ‘college graduates’ but ex-minor league players (NCAA football is purely the NFL’s minor league, and it is free for the NFL; what a deal) who do not not, as a rule, have much education; they fail to grasp, BY THEIR OWN CHOOSING NOT TO LEARN, the problems he discusses.

It is easy to blame others but until the athletic community values education, they will not learn.

But does he really believe that the white athleter is inferior? What a racist statement.

I used to follow the NBA religiously; I listened to the Knicks and Willis Reed beat the Lakers on the radio on the stoops of my house; my favorite player was Earl ‘The Pearl’ Monroe. I played it everyday.

Then they changed the rules.

Travelling became 4 steps or more; carrying the ball (dribbling while having your hand under the ball) became allowed; dunking became the main way of scoring; palming (dribbling the ball over shoulder height) was allowed; the art of the backdoor pass, the bounce pass, the pick and roll, and other plays….poof…. going, going, gone…

I grew tired..

Then the game became purely a game of height: only tall people apply. Now, being tall is not an athletic quality. It requires no dexterity, coordination, or other skill: it is a condition of nature to be so tall. Most of my smaller friends, myself included, when I grew up in Jersey could do everything you see the pros do- excxept be tall. To this day at over 40 years of age, I can do all the moves… but I am not 6’10’‘.

If you don’t believe that height has much to do with it; play ball with a smaller person and have the basket onl;y 3- 31/2 feet above your head: with practice you will dunk easily and make simple, acrobatic moves.

Sorry, but basketball now is not a game but, rather, it is an exhibition of genetic exceptions. I have lost interest in it totally.

The smaller athlete, yes, usually white, is not wanted. Not because of skill- but because of height. I am not going to pay to see a game thst relies mainly on a random genetic accident such as one’s height.

A league limited to players under 6 feet tall and a basket that is below 8 feet would have just as much athletic showmanship and flair as the NBA. I saw it on the plagrounds where I played; I speak from experience.

Furthermore, as to the ‘inferiority’ of the white athlete,  I could name a hundred sports where blacks are out-shined by whites as a rule(hockey/curling/tennis/golf/horse racing/car racing/chess/skiing/ etc….). Does that make whites better athletes, overall,  than blacks?


Each person must be judged on his/her athletic ability. One’s race is just not part of it.

I would be called a nazi racist if I pointed out that blacks score much less on Iq tests as compared to say asians and/or whites, or that they are poorer, or that Africa is by far the poorest continent in the world, or that per capita in the US they commit more crime than other races, that their drop-out rates are higher than other races…. 

And people would be right if I used those acts to protray all blacks in the same light; but I don’t and won’t. The focus should be on the individual not the pattern of a particular race.

It just blows mny mind that he can make such a racist comment and it is okay because he is black.

No, it is not.

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