View Full Version : Michael Irvin back in controversy

11-28-2006, 08:21 AM
This should definitely help the prices of Michael Irvin jerseys:

Irvin latest analyst to enter hot water
Posted 11/26/2006 11:04 PM

ESPN football analyst Michael Irvin says he's sorry for his comments on Dan Patrick's national radio show a week ago that Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo's athletic ability must be due to African-American heritage.

"It's clear I was joking around. But I understand my comments were inappropriate. I apologize for those comments," Irvin said in a phone interview Sunday, after appearing on ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown.
ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys said Irvin will appear on The Dan Patrick Show on Monday, while continuing his TV gigs.

"Generalizations about heritage are inappropriate even in jest, and what Michael said was wrong. We have spoken to Michael about it," Soltys said.
Irvin's comments mark the latest talent flare-up. This year ESPN fired columnist Jason Whitlock for trashing colleagues Mike Lupica and Scoop Jackson in an interview. The network also fired baseball analyst Harold Reynolds. Fox Sports booted baseball analyst Steve Lyons for on-air comments about Lou Piniella's Hispanic background.

Irvin said he tries to bring fans inside the world of the locker room. But he admitted he "crossed the line" when he joked some slave "brother" must have had relations with one of Romo's maternal ancestors. "Certainly, in this case I crossed the line," he said. "I need to learn how to better draw the line between bringing people into the locker room and the boundaries I should not go past as a broadcaster."

David Whitley of the Orlando Sentinel pointed to a possible double-standard in his column. White sportscaster Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder was canned by CBS in 1988 for making similar comments.
But the stylized, Kabuki-style reaction to these media-driven controversies suggests there's hypocrisy to go around. Some critics screaming for Irvin's head are driven more by jealousy or animosity for a TV personality they don't like. It's also frighteningly easy to screw up on live TV/radio.

What Irvin needed was for an ESPN colleague such as Tom Jackson— who was not on The Dan Patrick Show with Irvin — to stop him from firmly planting his foot in his mouth.

Of course, when Jackson asked Irvin, "Are you retarded?" as he did on-air this year, he was criticized.

11-28-2006, 08:37 AM
Here is the the full quote by Mr. Irvin:

Not outraged by Irvin's racist remarks? You should be
http://images.sportsline.com/images/author/10231.jpgNov. 22, 2006
By Mike Freeman (http://www.sportsline.com/columns/writers/freeman)
CBS SportsLine.com National Columnist
Tell Mike your opinion! (http://www.sportsline.com/columns/writers/freeman)
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You may have missed when noted sociologist and anthropological expert Michael Irvin stated that Tony Romo must have African lineage in his genome, which explains why the Dallas Cowboys quarterback is such a good athlete.
Said Irvin on a national radio show this week: "He doesn't look like he's that type of an athlete. But he is. He is, man. I don't know ... some brother down in that line somewhere ... I don't know who saw what or where, his great-great-great-great-grandma ran over in the 'hood or something went down."

http://images.sportsline.com/u/photos/football/nfl/img9822802.jpg Evidently, Michael Irvin is to race relations what Jimmy 'The Greek' Snyder was to ... well, race relations. (US PRESSWIRE) Oh, boy.
Romo in the 'hood.
Where do I begin with this one?
This is Irvin's logic. I enjoy making Italian food. I'm actually pretty good at it. Therefore, my distant relatives must be Italian.
That's pretty dumb, right?
Asinine, huh?
Just stupid.
But he said it and I do not believe Irvin was kidding. The host of the show apparently did not think Irvin was joking, either. He responded to Irvin, "Oh, that's the only way he can be a great athlete?"
"That's not the only way, but it's certainly one way," Irvin replied. "If great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandma pulled one of them studs up out of the barn (and said), 'Come on in here for a second,' you know, and they go out and work in the yard. You know, back in the day."

This comment barely registered a blip on the moral outrage meter. That needle should have been bouncing around like it was the great San Francisco earthquake.

As someone who has written about the thorny issue of race, blasting white offenders for perpetrating racial stereotypes and ugliness, I cannot be a hypocrite.

Irvin's words were without question racist. They were racist as hell. There is no other way to say it.
I don't call for firings much. Not my style. But if racial bomb throwers like Rush Limbaugh are penalized for their insensitive remarks, shouldn't Irvin be?
When you state that, for the most part, the lone way a white athlete can be a good athlete is to be part black, well, that is racist. Horribly racist and reinforces stereotypes that blacks are inherently big-thighed, bulging-biceped drones, incapable of being much else.
There is no difference between Irvin's words and those of Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder, who got canned. Not so different from the ignorance displayed by Limbaugh, who resigned.

Why aren't more blacks outraged? What Irvin said was just as offensive.
What's good for the goose should be good for The Playmaker.
In October of last year, Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry blamed a blowout loss to Texas Christian University on the fact that TCU had more black players than his team did.

"It's very obvious to me the other day that the other team had a lot more Afro-American players than we did," DeBerry said, "and they ran a lot faster than we did. It just seems to be that way that Afro-American kids can run very, very well."

DeBerry was blasted for what he said and apologized. Irvin has left the room unscathed.

If blacks are to fight the plague that is racial ugliness -- and racism remains one of the great threats to the Republic, no question about it, just ask that Seinfeld loser or Mel Gibson -- then we have to be honest with ourselves. We cannot blast whites for committing acts of racial stereotyping then remain silent when one of us does the exact same thing.

Saying blacks have the copyright on athleticism is unbelievably dangerous. If you believe one stereotype, then you must believe them all. All Asians are studious. All whites are exploitive. All Latinos are landscapers. All blacks can dance. The stereotypes do not leave much room for blacks becoming astronauts or Latinos becoming president.

This is an old, tired argument, so I will make it brief. I have been around too many great, white athletes to know better, to know that no race has the corner on being athletic. Books and studies have been written to the contrary, and they are all hogwash. They are done to reinforce stereotypes or old-school beliefs.

There is no difference between what Irvin stated and saying that the only way a black person can be smart is if he has white lineage. Think about it. No difference at all.

Remember the old days? In the 1950s, it was thought that blacks were not tough enough to play football. Now, according to some people, that is all we can do.

There was a time when we were too stupid to play quarterback. Now, we're too dumb to be anything but one.
Linebacker? Cool. Pilot? Nope.

Any time a person in position of authority or commanding air time says blacks have a genetic advantage in athletics, they are aiding and abetting the retardation of race relations. They are keeping us stuck in the past with old school notions and beliefs.

Just like Snyder and DeBerry. And now Irvin.

Until now, Irvin never bothered me as much as he apparently does some others. He is a rare breed for an athlete-analyst. He has strong opinions. You may hate them, but at least he has them.

Yet on the Uncle Tomfoolery Scale, with one being Amos 'n' Andy and 10 being The Birth of a Nation, Irvin, with his popsicle-colored suits circa 1980 and sketchy grammar, is perilously close to setting tomfoolery records the way he did football ones. There is a fine line between flavor and Uncle Tomfoolery.

Whenever athletes, commentators, coaches, and others comment on race, they often do not realize that such discussions require a scalpel, not a blow torch. You don't just run your yap about race the way you do about the cover-two defense.

Racial discussions require an educated sensibility, not diatribe. Such talks also require frankness.

What Irvin said was wrong. It was also racist.
And where is the outrage?

Mike Freeman is a CBS SportsLine.com National Columnist