"I never want to get comfortable. I never want to even think if I've proved myself to people. I'm not playing this game for that. I'm playing it to have success; I'm playing it to win Super Bowls; I'm playing it because I love it; I'm playing it because God has given me all this ability and 1 want to use it to the best of my ability. As bad as I want for people to really respond to me in a positive way, that's really not the reason I'm playing this game. When you win, that's when you win over people." -Quincy Carter
I wrote Randy Galloway the year we won the State Championship and asked him for a ‘shout-out” on his popular “Sports @ Six” radio show. After all, our school was in Grand Prairie, Texas and Randy hails from that peculiarly-named suburb just west of Dallas. Galloway never responded so I stopped listening to him. After all, how many teams from Grand Prairie have won a championship in any sport? I felt slighted. Maybe I should’ve bought him a miniature of Jose Cuervo Gold—but, who was really into bribing journalists back in 1998.
Randy returns to my good graces-- from now through eternity-- because he bailed Quincy Carter out of an Irving jail (yes, former Dallas Cowboy quarterback Quincy Carter.) “Q-Car" got arrested on marijuana related charges—but, my inquiring mind wants to know this: Where where were his ‘road dogs?’ (In Georgia, or St. Louis perhaps?) Is it possible that the former starting quarterback of America’s team had no one to call to get him out of jail? I can understand not having money…he’s a black man in the United States. Every brother I know has been broke at various points in life. But…I can’t get my arms around not having anyone to call. (Why didn’t the girl who called the Cops post bail?) This is a guy who was a second round draft pick, led the Cowboys to a 10-6 record (including the playoffs), started sixteen games, and was the erstwhile successor to Troy Aikman. I’d be willing to bet that “Q” is the only person who has ever started at quarterback in Texas Stadium who could find themselves in jail (less than nine minutes from the Stadium) with nary a soul to call. There is at least one person who Gary Hogeboom or even Steve Pelleur could call to get out of an Irving jail. But no, not our Quincy. This is tragic.
The question, dear readers, is ‘why?’ Maybe “Q” is addicted to marijuana. Hell, everyone who played in the NFL is addicted to something—from painkillers to fame to the hardbody groupies, every former NFL guy is carrying a mutant monkey on his back. While you’re a pro athlete, there is someone to satiate every possible need and want. When it’s over, I guess you’ve got to get help for the addiction by yourself. Even Secretariat got better treatment than Quincy (OK, Secretariat did win the Derby!)
How pervasive and temporal is the cult of celebrity in our world –and, how tragic the breackneck slide into oblivion and rejection!
But let’s be straight, black Quarterbacks have a long history of mistreatment and abandonment from front offices and fans alike. I am old enough to remember when Joe “Jefferson Street” Gilliam took over the Steelers from Terry Bradshaw and led them to a 4-1-1 record. And, what could NAIA All-American Marlin Briscoe have done as a NFL quarterback had he received the same opportunities as Bob Griese. Doug Williams almost single-handedly led a Tampa Bay Bucs team to two NFC championship game—he was rewarded with death threats when he held out because he was the 43rd highest paid quarterback in the league. He should have ‘held-out’ for the entire season. That would’ve been my advice. (Do you think Babe Ruth would have stood for being the 43rd highest paid right fielder? The Yankee fans would have marched in streets for George Herman "Babe" Ruth)
Many black quarterbacks suffered shattered, ignoble endings—and others were systematically denied opportunity for significant chunks of their careers. I know that Vick, Leftwich, Culpepper and McNabb have made a true impact on the league— I just hope they understand and embrace history by studying what James “Shack” Harris, Gilliam, Williams and even Warren Moon endured. Black quarterbacks were assaulted with labels like, “He can’t grasp our complicated system,” or “…they just can’t lead.” What vicious irony that many of these distinguished black quarterbacks demonstrated excellence leadership skills in college while throwing for thousands of yards and winning game after game. (“Oh, but that was at those historically black colleges…there football is different there!)
Have any sports psychologists studied the aggregate impact of these oft-repeated put-downs to the psyche of black quarterbacs? And what is truly remarkable is that such recriminations belch forth from an entity where the percentage of black players is tagged at 65% of the total population. It is no wonder black quarterbacks face such crushing pressure. (No one expects you to succeed—if you do, it’s a fluke, if you don’t…well, “…you should have converted to ‘Cornerback’ when we gave you the chance…we’re placing you on waivers anyway.”)
I wish Quincy a lot of luck and a ticket to a rehab center (in fact, I think Terrell Owens should offer to pay.) I don’t know if Quincy has had time to read my post, but he is one reason that I actually watched the Cowboys (I am straight ‘Silver and Black’) I thought it cool (maybe even progressive) that a black Quarterback with a suspect arm was given an opportunity in Dallas, Texas. The DFW area never accepted him— and, Parcells (who did give him a second chance) ultimately cast him aside amidst the ‘NFL substance abuse policy’ rules. Though he was picked up by the Jets, he never made it in New York. So, he falters and ends back up in Irving—in jail—with no one to call.
I was at an Italian restaurant in Long Beach (South Shore, Long Island, not California) when I was shocked by an article in Newsday about Nate Archibald working as a janitor at a YMCA. I hurled the paper to the floor; Nate Archibald…that wasn’t possible…the guy averaged 34 points and 11 assists a game one year and was a five-time all NBA selection. He was the spiritual descendant of Bob Cousy and the precursor of Magic Johnson. How could this be the only job he could find once out of the league?
His story—and Quincy’s-- is like the Sci-Fi channel version of “Beyond the Glory.”
To all black professional athletes (and, especially, the Quarterbacks), here is my five-point plan:
1.Spend frugally ($1.2 M doesn’t go as far as it used to)
2.Buy real estate for which you (and you alone) hold the title in a safe deposit box.
3.Find a “Dad” or “Dad-surrogate” that will be in your corner and speak truth to you. (Dads will tell you that the fans don't owe you respect, nor must you seek validation from them. Fan is not synonymous with friend.)
4.Remember that the same people who were saying “Hosanna” to Jesus on Saturday were screaming ‘Crucify Him” the following Wednesday.
5.Never get high (especially after you’ve gotten cut, waived or traded…or, in the company of any female not eligible for Medicare Part D.)
Not only is earthly fame fleeting, it is fundamentally irrelevant. If you can name five people-- with whom you aren’t related to by blood or bloodshed-- who genuinely care whether you live or die, count yourself exceedingly blessed. Memorize their names and mobile telephone numbers. And, concurrently, stay out of Irving, Texas unless one of these numbers belongs to a wealthy journalist. Quincy’s fate could be your own.