Jack Johnson can very well appear to be the model for African American male athletes behaving badly. Tall, Dark, Strong, Johnson beat White men to the punch as the first Black heavyweight champion of the world. He flaunted his status; used his money to buy expensive cars and wearing a high-end wardrobe. During a time where many Black men were lynched for as much as breathing around White women, Johnson flaunted them on his arm as if he were exempt. This attitude seemed established an unwritten rule setting the model as to how to “control” the professional Black Male athlete – a Black tax of sorts: Joe Louis paid heavily; Jesse Owens learned quickly; Jackie Robinson took blows; and Muhammad Ali took a stand, and lost millions for his beliefs. Careers on the line in the 60’s, Black Athletes joined Ali in solidarity for a press conference disputing the actions taken again him in revoking his boxing license.
Enter Chad Johnson…..REALLY?! Dude, you just go married! You’re at the end of your career; in fact, as great an athlete as you are, some teams (though reluctantly) decided to take a chance on you one more time…and you blew it! For what?! Simple. Somewhere along the way our younger Black Male professional athletes lack the knowledge and history of their forefathers. “I have a contract and endorsements” have become a mantra more important than plain ole common sense. Granted, Jack Johnson may consider his antics par for the course, and would possibly embrace him with a chuckle; but for the others who dealt with a more crushing racist blow, he’d get a proper slap upside the head. For Black Male professional athletes who are on the majority responsible men, fathers, and husbands have another hurdle to clear to further prove themselves as something other than a dumb, hyper-sexed, money hungry jocks.
…by the way Chad…was it worth it?