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Solution Paper #25
Who’s Dream? All Americans or Just Some?
Who’s Property Rights? Owners or Nonowners?
Whose Welcome: The NFL’s Blacks May Apply
Or Minnesota’s “Black’s Need Not Apply”?
Reggie Fowler is the Accepted Qualified Bidder for the Minnesota Vikings
“Let’s Live the African American Dream”
—Jamie Foxx, 2-27-05
Acceptance speech for Best Actor Oscar
“Fairness and Justice”:
”The American Dream”
Posted 2-28-05, the day after the Oscars
Updated at end with posts of: Update of March 7, 2005 and Update of March 16, 2005
For more, see: Chapter 15 of The Minneapolis Story, Through My Eyes, by Ron Edwards as told to Peter Jessen
Also see columns:
2005/#2: I Told You So. Now Let’s Save the Vikings! and
2005/#4: (2) Black men need not apply for membership in the NFL?
Also see 2005 web log entries:
#17 (2/12/05): Strib & the Bosses Play the Race Card: Put Fowler in his place.
#16 (2-212-05): It looks like the Vikings will remain in Minnesota under Fowler. [2-12-05, 10:30 pm: I may have spoken too soon].
#12 (2-7-05): Reading the Vikings tea leaves as served up by Red, the NFL, and Sid Hartman.
#9 (2-6-05): We can solve the NFL’s lack of depth in their managerial Black bench. Sell to Black Fowler.
At the Super Bowl 2005, Commissioner Paul Tagliabue admitted that the NFL had not done enough in terms of hiring Black executives. He promised to move forward. We know that the NFL wants to do the right thing: not deny a qualified bidder, not deny the property rights of Red McCombs.
The Strib issued a “what Reggie needs to know about the Vikings” piece. So we wish to respond in kind and issue this “What the NFL and the NFL owners need to know about Minnesota.”
We know Reggie Fowler Is qualified to own the Vikings. We also know of the obstacles being tossed into his path by Minnesotans, especially those of the Twin City variety, obstacles due to his color, hiding behind false statements and innuendoes regarding his finances, qualifications, and stadium building abilities.
As discussed below, there is a new elephant in the Minnesota living room: Red McComb’s acceptance of Reggie Fowler’s bid for the Vikings. Minnesota wants to get ride of this new elephant. It prefers its rhinoceros in its Minnesota living room: the rhinoceros of racism. We have dealt with this before on our 2002 web page, Citizens for Fairness and Justice. And we have dealt with it in our book The Minneapolis Story, Through My Eyes. Chapter 15 dealt with the preference of Minnesota to kick the Vikings out of town, a thesis that is also in the book by Strib reporter Jay Weiner, Stadium Games: Fifty Years of Big League Greed and bush League Boondoggles. We have also developed a “roll call” of those trying to get rid of the team or threatening to.
Red and Reggie are on the right track. Numerous owners have stated the deal is good. But Minnesotans are trying to sabotage it. We write in defense of the bid, not because Reggie is Black but because he is qualified, and that despite his being qualified, he is being sabotaged just because he is Black. Certain Minnesotans are trying to discredit his qualifications because they don’t want a Black owner EVEN THOUGH FOR THREE YEARS they have had a chance to make an acceptable bid and have not. Now that a Black has made a bid they are rushing to anoint Glen Taylor instead. This piece, then, is about what the NFL needs to know about Minnesota.
Spring 2002: Red McCombs of San Antonio, Texas, Spring 2002,
put his NFL football team, The Minnesota Vikings, up for sale. For nearly three
years no one was willing to meet his fair
February 2005: Reggie Fowler of Phoenix, Arizona bid the fair market price Red wanted, proved to Red that he and his partners could complete the sale, and had his bid accepted by Red.
Reggie Fowler becomes the first Black owner of an NFL team. And therein lies the rub.
And even though USA Today printed a story declaring that “League owners optimistic Vikings sale will go through, we are seeing evidence that there are those behind the scenes who are hiding behind contrived technicalities to make sure that the NFL and the Vikings ownership remains Whites only: Blacks need not apply. In other words, Glen campaigned against Reggie, with Sid Hartman serving as Glen’s mouthpiece. The major “carrot” held out to the NFL is a bribe: deny Reggie, accept Glen, and Glen will get the league a new stadium. This is a contemptible straw man: the new stadium will be built, but in Minnesota’s time frame. No one but Reggie has declared a willingness to abide by that time frame (NLT 2011) except Reggie IF he is unable to get movement before that (now in order to effect a new stadium opening to dove tail with the St. Cloud corrido: 2008).
Bottom line, with media based evidence listed below and from 40 years of community activist work and experience such that “we have practically seen it all,” it is our contention that Reggie Fowler can make the application because he is qualified to be the Vikings owner, as:
Four sets of “signals” give us pause:
The Glen Signal is first seen in two articles even before the press conference announcing the deal is held, one by Reusse and the other by Weiner, on the 13th, as Glen foretells the future as he sees it: Red will accept Reggie’s bid to put a floor under his price; Reggie will fail; and Glen will pick up the Vikings ball, and, as he is the only one who do so, will can get a stadium out of the legislature (but if they don’t give him a tax subsidized stadium Glen said he would move the team, so the only hope the NFL and the state have to keep the team, according to Glen, is through a deal with the legislature that Glen’s past experience in that body ensures). And in case anyone misses this point, in the Weiner article, Glen made it clear he is has accepted his anointed one to buy the team, or, as would put it, as the Great White Hope saving the locals, saving Red, and saving the NFL from the Black buyer. And how does the “official” sports voice of Minnesota put it, the day after the announcement of Reggie buying the team? He sets the stage for the later resume flap by flat out sayng in his headline that Franchise could be moved, which sets up his later pieces saying that only Glen can be a stadium out of the legislatuare, which is his signal to to the NFL to turn Reggie down so Glen can have the team and get them a stadium. It is also a thinly veiled statement not to believe anything Reggie says.
The Strib signals came before and after the press conference in which Red said he accepted Reggie’s bid. The Strib really piled it on, publishing numerous innuendoes, making the flat out statement before hand that “Clancy didn’t buy the Vikings, and neither will Fowler.”
The Strib has constantly declared in numerous articles that Reggie doesn’t have the money, following Glen’s statement that Reggie didn’t have the money, and says “There isn’t any doubt that the league will do all it can to make sure Taylor owns the team, if there is going to be a change in ownership.” Indeed, Weiner admits, the day after Red announced he accepted Reggie’s bid, that “during a round of media interviews last week,” Glen “aggressively questioned Fowler’s ability to gain approval from the NFL because he wanted to give McCombs time to respond before going public.” In other words, he was trying to sabotage Reggie’s deal and at the same time sabotage Red by trying to force him to take his offer which Red has already told him numerous times that he would not accept. With friends like Glen, you certainly don’t need enemies.
The NFL needs to stand up to that damning statement of the Strib. The Strib is signaling to the NFL that it is “OK” to deny Reggie as Glen will pick up the ball and all will be well. And for those who maybe didn’t get it, they published a condescending editorial called “A few things Fowler needs to know, in which the Strib hides behind the anonymity of being an “editorial,” offering all that it hates about the Vikings going back to 1970. And who are most of the villains of their piece? Black men, singling out a Black player, Brent McClanahan, and a Black Coach, Dennis Green, as if all that is wrong with the team is summed under the color Black. The inference is clear: steer clear of trouble by steering clear of this Black owner. How contemptible. The low regard in which the team is held by the Strib is seen in the Nick Coleman negative piece that manages to attempt to discredit not only Reggie, but the Vikings, Red, and Dennis Green.
What shocks about the Strib that they have allowed their hatred and bigotry to dump all over the Minnesota Vikings fan as if they are dumb and stupid. What a love hate relationship the Strib has, calling the team “an irreplaceable asset to the region” and yet calling it a team that people want to love but really don’t, and then bolster’s Glen’s stadium claim by saying Minnesotans are against public monies for a stadium but constantly providing space for the notion that only Glen Taylor can get a tax payer subsidized stadium out of the legislature. The Strib also provided a gratuitous advice on PR to Fowler that goes beyond advice: it attempts to discredit Fowler. Through all of these it is almost as if is preparing the way for the eventual announcement that Fowler has been denied and they can say I told you so. The Strib even tries to discredit Reggie in their piece that would seem, from the title, to be positive, Fowler proves he can tackle big challenges. When Reggie’s PR firm put out a company bio without checking with him (company bios are different from job hunting bios) the Strib released a hurricane of articles about it using them to “prove” that Reggie is not qualified. They tried to make it a Notre Dame moment, as if this was an “O’Leary Affair.” But it clearly was not. Was it bad PR? Most certainly: when they can’t “get you” on the big issues that count they go after you on the little ones that are irrelevant. Does it discredit Reggie? Most certainly not. But it is used to “justify” questioning everything and tar him with a very broad brush suggesting questions where none really exist. It gives those who want to the excuse to say “This kind of thing casts doubt on everythingb about him and everything he says from now on.” That’s about as broad a brush as you can use. And please note: it kept O’Leary out of Notre Dame, but most assume something else was involved. Note it had absolutely no impact in terms of his joining the staff of the Vikings. Does it teach Reggie a lesson about Minneapolis media? How could it not?
The Randy signal came in the form of the Strib article of 2-17-05
saying he would not trade Randy Moss,
only to be followed up six Strib articles on February 24 by the Vikings announcing a trade of Randy to Oakland (see also here, here, here, and here). This is way too much detailed information in so short a time: they were obviously working on this, meaning that the old “leak machine” from inside Winter Park to the Strib is alive and well. And even though it is Red’s machine, and even if it is acting in “rogue” fashion, it ultimately required his decision, which raises the interesting question in the Collins bylined article, “Who the heck signed off on this?” No one is taking credit. And Fowler remains quiet. In the Scoggins and Zulgad piece the Packers take this as a great gift to them. Surely Viking executives facing a new owner would not go against what they read he wanted. This suggests that a behind the scenes “deal” has been concluded that will enable them to deny Reggie what is now legally and rightfully his.
This episode (actually a continuation of others) also suggests that no matter who the new owner is, they may well have to fire many of the old “veterans.” If the Strib stories are true, Winter Park employees can’t be trusted with company information. They knew Glen kept getting turned down. They knew Reggie was working on a bid that was designed to meet Red’s price, and yet they continued to provide “inside information” to Glenn and his people. As Weiner reported February 11, 2005, “Taylor said that employees of the Vikings who had been working with him in sharing financial information told him they could no longer ‘helps us because they’re working with the other group,’ Taylor said.” The Winter Park crowd obviously got cold feet as they learned Red was going to accept Reggie’s bid. The question now is, who’s side will be they on with the new owner? This all adds up to why we say the finances are easy but the color is hard.
Red has one of the smartest financial men in Gary Woods. Red is shrewd businessman (San Antonio Express-News, August 5, 2002, p. 1A; requires registration and payment to see article, entitled “Is stadium McCombs’ goal?”) who has owned professional teams before. Red and Gary wouldn’t make a deal if they didn’t think it could be done. Reggie is a fellow businessman and millionaire. His millionaire partners would not have joined him if they didn’t think it could be done. Red and Gary and Reggie’s partners are not in the business of making themselves look either stupid or foolish. But there are those who would do so (try to make them look silly and stupid) to block the sale. So “whither goest thou, NFL?” Like everyone else, we’ll stay tuned to see what flag they run up the flagpole: the NFL claims they will display the U.S. flag. Minnesota wants them to display the “Blacks need not apply” flag. What the Minneapolis anti-Reggie group is left with is “the stadium defense” for denying Fowler: only Glen can get the money out of the legislature, which is stuff and nonsense.
Our clear response: Reggie has made the deal. Turn the keys over to him. He meets the financial requirements. “Overcome” and “overcoming” (as in “we shall overcome”) are words that again come into play. Reggie must overcome those trying to block him from owning the team. Red must overcome those who would try to control what he does with his private property. The NFL must overcome “Minnesota ice” and play by the “fairness and justice rules.” As we do with any racist blocks we see thrown at any Black American in Minneapolis, we “pull the covers” off to expose it as we continue our battle against any who would deny qualified others equal access and equal opportunity. Any thing we can do to encourage all involved to do the right thing we will do.
Be very clear: we do not take up this challenge because Reggie is Black but rather because although Reggie is a qualified buyer, the obstacles thrown in his path are because he is Black. We fight red lining (the practice of denying service to any living within a given areas) in all its forms, whether the banking redlining related to denying mortgages to those with their map’s redline circles or blocks, or whether related to viewing those within the color red line of “not the same” or “dumber” and thus deny quality education, jobs, housing, and public safety, or, in the Minnesota case of Reggie, defining a Black person as a walking red line. We see signs that Reggie is being redlined by racist innuendoes and shadow remarks and different rules, just as Blacks were given different rules for qualifying to vote during the jim crow days. This book, column, and web log fight racism and for any who are under siege, White or Black, male or female, rich or poor, as continue to stand up for equal opportunity against any who would deny it, be it the White owners of the NFL or the Black officer of the NAACP.
In other words, as Fowler is qualified, we’ll now find out the true hand of the NFL: will it take this long overdue step of no longer blocking Blacks from being owners or it will it show its own segregationist colors and hide behind the false and and inaccurate racist statement that they have no bench depth in terms of Black executives?
In saying this we recognize that we will be accused of “playing the race card.” Of course. You can’t win a card game without playing all the cards. It is due to an obsession with political correctness that brings the blindness to racism to the table. As we should have no racism and as we are good people we can’t be racist. I pull the covers off this in my book in regards to education, jobs, housing, etc. The contnued bottling up in our inner cities of a population provide poor education, poor jobs (or none), and poor housing, is either out of cruelty or out of a racist belief that they are not of any value above these levels. So let us reword this: we are playing the “observe the racism” card. The Strib itself published a series on racism in 1990 about the rampant racism in the Twin Cities and Minnesota, as did the Mpls.St. Paul Magazine (see my book’s Interludes 2 and 10). In a 2000 cover story on Dennis Green the magazine noted the racism of Minneapolis was still well and very much alive. Indeed, we made he case in our Column 2004/#25, December 2, 2004, discussing the racist skin head company known as Panzerfaust records in S. Paul, the state capital, makes and distributes racist CDs to middle and high school kids, bragging proudly that “we don’t just entertain racist kids. We create them.” So far, in the local White media: mum’s the word, although Panzerfaust was covered by national TV news. Think about that: “we don’t just entertain racist kids. We create them.” And the Twin Cities remain silent. We believe the NFL will not be held to the racist blackmail offered by the so-called “leaders” trying to discredit Reggie Fowler.
End of Blog entry 2005/#21. But the “case” continues…
Will racism be allowed to be disguised as stupidity? Why do these media types think Red McCombs is stupid, or that Reggie and the partners Reggie is brining to the Minneapolis table are? Indeed, one of his partners received $300 million in cash for his sale of his part of the New Jersey nets. These are not poor people. If the NFL turns Reggie down, given the financial strength of Reggie and his group, there can only be one reason for turning him down: his color. For three years Red has been trying to sell his team. And for three years there was no one to meet his price. Until now. And when it comes, Minnesota “leaders” go nuts and rush to sabotage the deal and anoint Glen as “The Great White Hope.”
And for those who think racism isn’t that big a deal anymore, we direct your attention to ego trip’s Big Book of Racism! For people of color have put together a large tome that will be enjoyed by people of all races and colors. It is politically incorrect, hilarious, and deadly serious, all at the same time, as it catalogs in serious and humorous ways the distance we ‘ve come, the distance we still have to go, and the pervasiveness of race and racism underlying almost all social interactions. For those who think it is old hat and history, this book will quickly disabuse you of that. and for those who think no progress has been made and that we still live in a pre-1964 world, this book will disabuse you of that as well. It is a healtlhy and humorous reminder of the work we all must do together so that we can work to make racism a thing of the past as everyone, Black or White, keep their eyes on the prize together.
NFL: Whither Goest Thou: Association/Cartel/Monopoly/Good old Boys Club/Congressional Action? The Vikings are owned, lock, stock, and barrel, by Red McCombs. The Vikings are not owned by the NFL. Red wants to sell to Reggie. The notion that a Finance Committee can block a person from selling his property to his choice is skating on the dangerous grounds of monopoly business, of cartelization, of being allowed to run a good ‘ol boys club of segregation and prejudice at tax payer expense under Federal government protection. We in the Black community have had to live with this dodge for hundreds of years. Only the massas can approve sales so that only the “right” people own. The NFL has to decide whether to continue to pretend it is a plantation and have someone challenge it (and they have lost their several law suits) or whether they will lead the way into the 21s century rther than bed dragged into it, kicking and screaming.
Note that the NFL has a clever gauntlet path: first the Finance Committee. Then the owners meet. The finance committe can recommend but the owners meeting as a whole can still turn it down. Why? A club is a man’s private property. Has the NFL gone so socialist that it would continue to operate in a fashion that could kill the capitalist goose that lays its golden eggs? This is not to knock its business model, its wisdom in understanding the real competion is other leagues and other pulls on peoples time and discretionary income, nor is this a knock on the brilliance of parity and a salary cap. The Golden Goose is good. But let’s not kill it or injure it. As Art Model famously quipped, ”We are 32 fat cat Republicans who vote socialist.” Please recall that the NFL has been challenged on these issues in the past it has lost. I talk about my challenges in the Minneapolis Courts in Chapter 3 of my book. I won every time.
There are those who see the legal as their edge. They want lady liberty to set down her scales, keep on her blindfold, and work with her hands behind her back so the scales are not used…We are hoping that the NFL listens to the better angels of the NFL and not to the demons of Minnesota. Indeed, if we may digress for a second, we believe the NFL offers a far more palatable model for renewing our inner cities than anything the political cartels that currently run inner cities as private plantation at the expense of those kept there by poor education, poor or no jobs, and poor housing (see my book, The Minneapolis Story, Through My Eyes, Chapters 7-9).
We believe it would be a boon to the inner city of Minneaopolis in many ways
for the developements of the St. Cloud Corridor and Mall of America II to go
forward. It would create a new golden triangle vision (see
my book, The Minneapolis Story, Through My Eyes, p. 262-263). We would
love to discuss it with both projects. Indeed, football, especially NFL football,
has captured the heart of the nation. Indeed, we believe that the next step
in this love affair will be the establishment of each team of a web
log by owner and coach and perhaps one contributed to by players
(indeed, no “fan plan” should be without one. For more information,
We don’t want to see anything hurt either the sport nor the NFL, neither its
players or coaches or executives. As agree with author Michael MacCambridge
and his 2004 book that the NFO is indeed America’s
Game. Our position is that it is an ALL American game, for Whites
as well as for Blacks, and we believe the league will be strengthened and the
game on the field will be come better once the NFL breaks the color ceiling
and includes Blacks as owners and executives too.
The NFL is not Augusta, nor is it a college fraternity. The NFL is not a private club, although all involved act that way. The NFL is not like a fraternity where it can legally blackball someone (although it can work behind the scenes to make it happen and then pronounce surprise and deniability in arguments that have forced plausibility based on lawyer technicalities than on fact and realty. NFL – Players Association relations and negotiations could well be strained if it denies a qualified candidate, sending a signal that qualified players who are Black need not dream of being hired as executives. When the NFL has been challenged on these issues in the past it has lost. We are hoping that they listen to the better angels of the NFL and not to the demons of Minnesota.
Time for NFL Oz to come out from behind the curtain. The league sometimes tends (or at least appears to) hide behind the skirts of an electronic curtain with an electronically enhanced voice that booms its voice with its oversized image on the big screen with its mysterious levers and dials. And yet, behind the screen is a little group of guys protected by the US congress and a fraternity like agreement of blackballing those they don’t want. Whether true or not, here is what it looks like: the Finance committee is a way for millionaires to keep out millionaires they don’t want to associate with. And in case they make a “mistake” or if the larger group doesn’t like whom the smaller group approved, the owners as a whole have a second chance to blackball who they don’t want. How, in America, can we still have a government protected AND government subsidized group able to interfere with one of the most sacred of American rights: private property?
In reality, the deal is over. A man who owns property has sold it to another. It is the NFL fiction that says the deal’s fat lady can’t’t sing until the finance committee and the committee of owners tells her she can. If Red accepted Reggie’s bid, it is over. Red’s property. Red’s to sell. Reggie’s to buy. Done. Sign the papers. Exchange the money in whatever forms it takes for the deeds and transfer papers.
It is time to end the NFL Plantation System. Should the owners meet and agree how they want to interact with each other? Of course. But in America no one is to tell others who they can sell their private property to. And certainly not when financed in great part by both the tax code and the taxpayers of their cities and states. Teams are private property. But the NFL is federally, state, county, and city subsidized.
Redlining of Black millionaires is a bit much. Banks used to draw red lines on their map around Black neighborhoods. No one inside the line could get a mortgage. Now Minneapolis “leaders” are trying to draw a red line around Reggie. If they do, they do, but let’s not let Oz hide behind his curtain and the skirts of the law in order to draw a red line around a millionaire because of his color.
But before going on, we want to pause as we give our thanks to Reggie
Fowler. I have never met the man nor talked to him. All I know is,
Black or White, he is the only person among the 5 billion on this planet (and
the only one among the dozens of millionaires and billionaires of Minnesota)
who is man enough and bold enough to stand up for Minnesota’s favorite
team: the Vikings. He has shown this by giving Minnesotans two Valentines that
none of the White folks in or outside the state were willing to bestow on us
Vikings fans, and which none of our local rich folks were willing to bestow.
On Valentine’s Day, Reggie Fowler gave us these two big Valentines:
(1) First, he’ll buy the team from Red at Red’s price as he is the only one recognizes the team’s value and fair market price. (when no one else would do so for the nearly three years the team has been for sale, regardless of color or where they were from). Remember, before Reggie, no local millionaire(s) or billionaire(s) would step up. That no locals stepped up affirms in our mind that they wanted the Vikings out of town. It is hard to tell what has changed their minds, whether it is setting up Glen Taylor to buy to keep a Black man away or whether it is because the folks pushing the St. Cloud corridor need the stadium as an anchor for their development dream and now see that they need the Vikings after all, or maybe both. Regardless, if this deal is killed over some manufactured issue over Glen Taylor knowing legislative check writers and Reggie none, we’ll know Anoka too wants the team but not with a man of color at the helm in their midst.
(2) Secondly, Reggie promises to keep the Vikings in Minnesota and not move them, with no threats like the previous two owners and with no threats like Glen Taylor made: Glen says he’ll get the team because Fowler will fail but then if taxpayers don’t give him a new, taxpayer subsidized stadium, Glen says he’ll move the team anyway. How come, if he is so confident he can get the legislature to pony up he makes this “or else” statement? See the roll call of threats at the end of Column 2005/#2. To these we need to add those recently made by Taylor.
So thank you, Reggie. Not because you are Black. But because you stepped up. USA Today reports that the owners believe the deal will go through. This is why the locals are working so hard to stop it. My impression is that we are back to “Blacks need not apply, Whites only” (see the second half of my column, 2005/#4. How ironically coincidental, then, that this is being done during Black History Month. Reggie stood up for the fans when Red and Glen were and are ready to abandon them. Once finalized Reggie says he’ll move here to live (Red often jetted to town the mornings of the games and jetted home right afterwards). We assume Reggie will snow bird part of the winter in Arizona. He’ll then truly have blended in with the other rich Minnesotans. We applaud, as we’d like to snow bird also.
This bears repeating: I trust no one misses the irony that it is the Black man
who has come to White fans’ rescue while all of the rich Whites have stood
mute on the side holding the exit door for the Vikings to pass through to leave
So if Minnesota is successful in getting the NFL to block Reggie, we will still have had our opportunity to savor this moment. And if they deny Reggie when he qualified in everything but color, they will be committing organizational suicide. If they don’t want government interference they must play by the rules. If the NFL closes the door on the future in the minds of their Black players who want to earn, qualify for and apply for post-playing days executive jobs, they will face a real crisis in their next negotiating round.
The NFL has already offended many, including their Black employees. But their
Commissioner, presumably speaking for all of them, raised the heat under their
own kettle putting themselves in hot water by saying, at the Super Bowl in Jacksonville,
that because there is no depth on the bench of Black Executives, front offices
not only don’t have to hire Blacks they don’t have to interview
them. This is a 21st century version of the 20th century book, “The Invisible
Man.” Black executives and Blacks capable of being executives, but the
NFL doesn’t see them. Does being color blind to the NFL mean only seeing
White. The saving grace is that the Commissioner said they would do better.
They can signal that by fairly and justly approving the deal already agreed
to by Red and Reggie. Their people, the nation, and he world are watching.
By the definitions used by Minnesota “leaders” as reported in the Strib articles, if they were applied to current owners many would be denied their teams as most had NO experience in the NFL nor as players or coaches or NFL executives prior to buying their teams.
The question has been raised as to whether or not the Jacksonville statement was set up in advance to establish why the NFL can turn Reggie down. We don’t know. The NFL will soon let us know. The “no bench” statement in itself is racist, prejudiced, and segregationist all rolled into one. Amazing. Most Head coaches were former players. Yet with over 70% Black players only 1% of Head Coaches are Black (and that is after a recent increase). This can only mean one of two things. (1) On average, the best Head Coach and coordinator slots are not being filled with the beset because the majority of candidates come from a tiny percentage of the qualified candidate pool. (2) The NFL either doesn’t want Blacks in these positions or, like the days when Blacks were denied being quarterbacks for being too dumb, they are now denied executive jobs, including that of Head Coach and owner, because they are thought too dumb. Either way the NFL loses. The NFL players’ association ought to be taking on the NFL as a protection for its players when it comes time for those who later qualify to transition to executive positions.
Staying with the same theme and applying it to the Vikings when Reggie (or any other new owner) takes over the team, to hire the very best coaches means, in all probability, statistically speaking, hiring Black coaches. Otherwise, the new owner, White or Black, would not be drawing from among the best of a very large best pool, having settled for selections from a tiny pool.
In his book “The Red Zone: Cars, Cows, and Coaches,” Red McCombs, who has owned other professional sports franchises, said he was warned about the then Black head coach, Dennis Green. As McCombs wrote in his book (p. 192), “I recognized his [Dennis Green’s] organizational skills. I was impressed that the Vikings had a number of players, about half the team, who were not big names when they came to the Vikings, who had developed into great players under Dennis and his staff.” And here is Red’s key statement: “I bought a much better football operation than I had ever dreamed would be there. On the other hand, the business side, which I expected to be better, was…disappointing.” Red was also impressed by Green, calling it “a strong endorsement,” that in his nine years, “six or seven guys had left Green’s staff to become a head coach or coordinator.” One only has to compare Red’s two Vikings coaches to grasp the full understanding of what I am saying here.
Indeed, one commentator, obviously not with the Strib, wrote that “The Vikings spent most of the ‘90s as Minnesota’s premier sports outfit,” but now, ever since Green left, the result has been that the team has become a “shameful…second-class organization.”
We are not writing this to condemn the NFL but to encourage it to stand
up like a man and face the 21st century. We applaud the NFL for tipping
its toe in the water in considering Reggie. But we don’t give points for
toes. We want the full man. Make no mistake: it remains unconscionable that
it has taken the NFL this long just to put its toe in. It is now time for the
We are also not unmindful that it took a Southern Texan, LBJ, to step up to the plate with the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. And we are not unmindful that it is another Southern Texan, Red McCombs, more than any other NFL owner, to step up to take this historic step.
But it will take more than a toe. Only full body action will do. Red has taken the plunge. Now the NFL must also. We are concerned because we can see the NFL shivering, pulling back, withdrawing its withered toe, and listening to the nonsense of Minnesota.
And again, to repeat, we write this not because Reggie is Black but because he is qualified. We write this as we fear the NFL will attempt to do the wrong thing and cater to Minnesota “leaders” when it is the fans they should be listening to. If Reggie were not qualified we would not be writing this. The NFL can only save itself if it jumps in and stops fighting and instead become part of the huge, historic, tectonic plate moving earthquake trembling Tsunami that will crash over the last great White-only seawall barrier anyway. This Tsunami will wash away the “Blacks need not apply” signs. Why not be part of this solution rather be part of the doomed effort fighting it that remains part of the problem?
We are at a significant and historic teachable moment in America as
a whole in general and for the youth of our inner cities in particular. So
I, for one, as a long time advocate of civil rights for minorities, rich or
poor, and as a life long Vikings fan, will hold good thoughts for the NFL to
do the right thing. As I said, over five billion people in this world, and only
Reggie Fowler was man enough to step forth with a vision to extend the tradition
of the Vikings here, and not threaten to move them nor beg for tax payer dollars.
Only Red McCombs has been man enough to accept an offer from a Black man. We
now expect the organization of the most manly of men’s group, the NFL,
will be man enough to not allow reactionaries to give them weak knees. We expect
to see men acting as men and standing up for the principle of private property
rights for Red and the universal right of our Declaration of inalienable rights
Fowler is very clear about the stadium and approaches it better than Red did, better than Glen is doing, and certainly better than all the roll call of naysayers who said no stadium, no team.
We are reminded of the Lincoln–Douglas debate of July 1858. Most know what Lincoln stood for. But do we know just how stark the Douglas position was? Here is a sample that sounds like what the Minnesota “leaders” are working so desperately to establish White team ownership. Judge Douglas said: “this government of ours is founded on the white basis. It was made by the white man, for the benefit of the white man, to be administered by white men, in such manner as they should determine.”
This is why, in my book The Minneapolis Story, Through My Eyes, I refer to Minneapolis as “the last outpost, a city that has mastered the harmful political and economic machinery for keeping minorities “in their place” in terms of education, housing, jobs, and the war on young Black men.” We can now add to the list: ownership of an NFL team.
One would think that we could get beyond the race card. But we all know that black” IS the key color, not green, as we know that the NFL helped Red by loaning him $100 million so he could outbid our local guy Hedrick (for those not on line, see San Antonio Express-News, August 8, 2002, p. 1A: requires registration and payment to see article, entitled “Is stadium McCombs’ goal?”). $100 million isn’t bad. and to an out of towner to boot. So why not for Reggie?
And the NFL is providing the $500 million financing (or funding, its not clear which, although we suspect financing, not funding; heard this on ESPN radio in May 2004) necessary to build L.A. a new stadium (a gift to whatever new owner goes there). $500 million isn’t bad either. So it isn’t green that counts, its Black. If Reggie was White, and if Reggie was the only guy to come forth to meet Red’s price, don’t you think the NFL would come rushing to his aid as it did Red’s? The NFL can make happen what it wants to make happen. With Reggie having the money we know it isn’t green that counts. It is Black. Those Blacks who are part of the new “charter generation” of success are as blind as Whites in dismissing the significance and importance of color in terms of those still pushed into the Plantation of the inner city.
We read with interest the “no taxes” leaders “organized” campaign gainst a tax subsidized stadium, paving the way to make the state tax increase as the only solution to keep the team in state. But that is another sleight of hand behind the curtain Oz stuff, for this group shows its true colors on its no anoka stadium tax web site: they reveal what they really oppose: not just taxes for a stadium but a stadium all together, and not just a stadium but any development. In other words, this is a NIMBY crowd, a “not in my back yard” crowd, masquerading as progressives they are really reactionaries, marching against economic growth, marching against jobs creation, reacting against development that would bring jobs and fight poverty.
In a word, they opposed the St. Cloud development project and are using their anti-stadium stance as a smoke screen to cover they are opposed to all of it, believing if they can block the stadium they can block much of the development. They have their sand box. They got theirs there. Let others go elsewhere to get theirs. Just as they like keeping Blacks sequestered in the inner city, they want new Whites to stay out of their area also. Had the generations before them had this attitude there would be no room for them. But now that they have theirs, they are wiling to deny others, Black or White. These are not communitarians. They are anti-communitarians. They are not progressives. They are reactionaries. They are not concerned about tax dollars as they don’t mind taxes for their projects. They fear the Feb 24, 2005, Strib report that the Minnesota House vote puts steam into building Northstar line, which is the North side’s answer to the South side’s $1 billion Mall of America Part II project. So they want to hold back the North side, while the vision and boldness on the south continues to bring good things to the residents on that side of town as the Mall of America. We see these as two points of a new, narrow, development golden triangle (again, see pp. 262-263 of my book for two others), with the three points being the Mall of America/Bloomington/airport, the Northside of downtown Minneapolis, and Blaine/Anoka County. For fun, one could add a fourth development golden triangle: Mall of America, Winter Park, new stadium in Anoka County.
The Mall will get the needed investment dollars seeded by the state with focussed taxes. What Anoka County is proposing is investment in the North side as well. Why should the south get it all? And just as the South side is willing to invest in itself for infrastructure, why is this small band of Anoka Luddites opposing an investment that would bring so much to their neighbors and to the whole North side?
But the fear remains regarding Reggie’s background. What surprises us here is that his newly acquired PR firm acted as a loose canon, hiding behind “just getting started.” Do they act on their own with every client or is Reggie the only “lucky” one? This is not PR, this is DR, disastrous relations. This is a billion dollar project being left in the hands of strangers who are turning what should be a sure thing into an outside bet. With friends like this Reggie doesn’t need enemies. Note how the Twin Cities media piled on, from the Strib to the Pi Press, from stories to Souhan’s jokes column to the radio and TV stations, all making far more about his Reggie’s resume than is warranted. Literally dozens of stories between the print and broadcast stories in the space of just a few days, a P nightmare. Reggie became the butt of jokes from coast to coast, from New York City to Portland, Oregon. The great “liberal” papers had a field day ridiculing this field hand who had obviously lost his way and needed to be shown the gate back to his place on the Plantation.
It is difficult to understand this situation got out of hand unless it was one of those “we all just “know” the “right” kind of “PR” to use to talking about this own of town Black guy. His PR firm should be demonstrating the strength Reggie is bringing to the table, not only in terms of his strengths in putting together big deals but also the strengths of his partners (Alan, Zyggi, David), and his key executives (John and Kevin). Not talking about his partners and key executives remains a mystery (this online article is from the St. Paul Pioneer Press, February 15, 2005, p. A1, “Fowler knows how to put a deal together.”).
Note: similar “piling on” stories have appeared in the St. Paul Pioneer Press; as we are expert in Minneapolis, and as listing theirs would be redundant, we leave it to the reader to look up their stories). Even though Reggie is new at this there is still no excuse for this when so much is on the line. Why no responses to these stories that portray Reggie as “less than”? The insignificant errors have been addressed. Allowing them to be the story has not been addressed. We are glad he has been setting the record straight. The key, however, is to get the team, assemble a great staff and field a winning team.
Reggie Fowler is not replaying the Denver Nuggets fiasco of a decade or so ago. In the NBA’s attempt to land a Black owner in Denver, they picked a Black man who fell on his face. He was overextended. The NBA was under pressure to have a Black owner. They got one. He moved to town, got a big condo, couldn’t meet payroll, and within a year was out, broke, a huge embarrassment. The NBA had to scramble. This is how the Wal-Mart heir got the team and why it took a decade before they went with their first Black majority owner, Bob Johnson, in Memphis (Johnson was the founder of the BET network). Fowler is also the real deal. As the articles point out, he has begun businesses in packaging, aviation, construction, broadcasting, banking, real estate and a Disney theme park.
All of this stumbling has just piled on the pre-announcement play by the “powers” of the race card, in a story entitled “Taylor hopes to hook Vikes” We posted our response to this in our February 12, 2005 Blog entry 2005/#17: Strib & the Bosses Play the Race Card: Put Fowler in his place.
The Strib has wanted Taylor from the get go. Knowing the Reggie announcement was about to be made, the Strib struck first with its story: While Fowler moves into position, Taylor maneuvers from sidelines, a story filled with innuendo, positioning Taylor coming to the rescue. Rescue from what? Rescue from the outsider who is a Black man. But we already know being an outsider doesn’t matter, as Red was sold the team over the local Roger Headrick. So what is the difference? Color. Being Black.
The positioning of stories and timing of releases seems a carefully calculated PR campaign geared to cast enough doubt by the NFL Finance Committee to discredit Reggie so he is denied. But that committee only looks at numbers. Reggie has the numbers. Our fear is that the committee will think all of these stories is Minnesota talking when it is only a narrow band of self-appointed “leaders” who, claiming to be liberals are really reactionary when it comes to race, as my book details. Note also: not a word of protest when Glen talks about moving the team if he doesn’t get a taxpayers subsidized stadium.
If all the legislature needs is Taylor as owner, then we know the legislature is ready to create a tax. And if they are ready, it doesn’t matter who owns the team. And Taylor’s statement “he thought his stadium-linked offer might be better received by the NFL than a straight cash deal from Fowler” is more sabotage to open the door open to leave town. In the same story, Glen presents the Wizard of Oz all powerful NFL myth again, as says about Red: “”If the goal is just to get the maximum for the franchise, then I would continue to negotiate with Fowler. But I’m not sure that’s necessarily the goal of the league. It would be in the league and other owners’ interest to get a stadium built.” “ Earlier he said the key was having a high franchise price. Nothing he talks about is about the good of the team or the fan.
My fear is that they are now working the “ace” in the hole in the Strib/Taylor/”powers” thinking, as expressed in the above referenced USA Today piece: “The NFL does have a policy, a spokesman said, that “excessively leveraged” acquisitions of clubs will not be recommended by the Finance Committee. When Red had to get $100 million to make the deal to beat our locals, it is obvious that the term “overleveraged” is elastic, meaning that it will mean whatever they decide it to mean. Sort of like the queen in Alice in Wonderland.
Finally, a word of thanks again to Reggie for bringing a spirit of grace to the proceedings. Despite the banging in the press, Reggie continues with grace and civility. In a word: a gentleman. He rides the white horse and wears the white hat while the opposition ride the black horse and wear the black hat (unless you want be like the dressed in black knight clothing, like Paladin in the “Have Gun Will Travel” western, or like the Black Knight of the movie with the same name.
The unasked question: if the NFL will finance the new stadium for L.A., why won’t it do so for Minnesota? And Jay Weiner’s recent 3 stadium solution echoes the same solution we recommended in our 2002 book and is the same as my publisher’s on his web site in 2000.
The big elephant in Minnesota’s living room: Reggie Fowler’s bid for the Vikings. Clearly Reggie is being given the run around in the local media, as seen in Sid Hartman’s columns (Sid speaks for the establishment), who has designated Glenn Taylor as the “Great White Hope.” See Sid’s columns here , here, and here.
The big rhinoceros in the NFL living room is race and the NFL admitted at this year’s Super Bowl that they are not proud of their past record and are working to get out from under the eight ball and to get ahead of the curve. Our easy recommendation: don’t let Minnesota block this legitimate deal.
To blame colleges and universities for the lack of NFL Black front office executives
is an affront to all Blacks in the game that the NFL needs to address, especially
to those who have gone on to get legal degrees (as Commissioner Tagliabue has)
and business and other graduate degrees in, only to be told there is “no
bench”. The NFL has a program for bringing in Black coaches to training
camps to help build a bench. Why not a program for management trainees, especially
players who have ended their careers and have gotten advanced training/degrees
or excellent OJT? The real reason is racism. How do White executives take Black
executives to their White country clubs? The Augusta syndrome is prevalent widely
in the NFL, creating a stranglehold by White males on the best positions. Just
as the Supreme Court learned a great deal from Thurgood Marshall and again now
from Clarence Thomas, so too will the Senate learn from Barak Obama. And now
the NLF has a chance to learn from Reggie Fowler, who will teach graciously
and diplomatically. He will also prove to be a great asset to the league its
its future negotiations with players.
The NFL runs the risk of waking up the sleeping giant of players as they could come to hold out for a career path that wouldn’t guarantee jobs but which would guarantee equal access and equal opportunity. That is all they asked on the field and it is all they ask for the executive and ownership suites. There is a color ceiling. With nearly 100% of coaches being former players, and with 70-80% Black players, something is amiss when only 1% of Head Coaches are Black and it stated that there is virtually zero percent Blacks on the executive bench, not to mention zero percent Black ownership. Clearly, the NFL is a house divided. As Lincoln so eloquently pointed out, a house divided cannot stand. It leads to civil war. The irony is that the NFL cuts itself off from some of the best talent and, as a result, cuts themselves off from creative folks who could help them make even more money than they do now. Segregation is not a happy atmosphere and doesn’t get the best out of people while at the same time, statisticall, excluding some of the best people. Those whofeel superior don’t have a sense of urgency and those who resent the condescension and know that their best won’t be acceptable outside a narrow “band width” of areas does have a sense of urgency. The 21st century has arrived. All need to be on board the 21st century train together.
UPDATE MARCH 7, 2005
See new Blog entries:
3/7/05/#25: ”Ask and ye shall find.” We asked yesterday, “show us the money.” The Pioneer Press answered today. They ran a story reporting that Fowler can show us the money.
3/6/05/#24: The necessary scrutiny given to Reggie makes it look like his lack of green is trumping his surplus of Black.
3/5/05/#23: Fowler’s Vikings future: “Much Ado About Nothing?” Is there a there there? Update re Strib stories of thurs, 3-3-05 and Sunday, 3-6-05, from Thursday’s hysteria to Sunday’s calm as if it’s all over: that Fowler won’t get it.
3/5/05/#23: Fowler’s Vikings future: “Much Ado About Nothing?” Is there a there there?
Tag team of Start Tribune and Pioneer Press try to body slam Reggie
Star Tribune on Thursday’s tag: 3-3-05
• With Vikings deal in works, old acquaintances team up
• Reggie Fowler: Silent partners, deep pockets
• Patrick Reusse: McCombs is a blight on the Minnesota sports scene
• Culpepper denies wanting Moss out
• McCombs said he considered firing Tice to keep Moss
Strib stays in the ring on Sunday, 3-6-05, delivering the punch list to meet for anyone wanting to buy an NFL team and then writing even more e about what the NFL wants is in the piece regarding putting Reggie under more scrutiny, with the implication (not direct statement) that Reggie can’t meet his share. The story provides “hearsay” (wishful thinking) that the NFL is trying “to get out of the Fowler process.”
PiPress tags and gets in the ring on Monday, 3-7-05, providing hearsay about bad things, and unwittingly proof about good things and actually demonstrating that Reggie has the money. See Blog entry #25.
Visionaries are needed, whether homegrown or from out of town:
• Minnesota used to have visionaries: seee my book, “The Minneapolis Story,” pp. 262-263
• Now we have a shortage (see Jay Weiner’s book on the bush league boondoggles of the teams and stadium efforts in “Stadium Games”).
• Mall of America: out of town visionaries, $1 billion expansion for Mall of America Part II
• Anoka County: new breed of home grown visionaries want new Vikings stadium, as part of the Minneapolis/Blaine/St. Cloud Corridor
• Reggie Fowler: out of town visionary with business in state already
UPDATE MARCH 16, 2005
thing is not just about money. We’re selecting a partner, and that’s
a very important decision for an owner.”
Roger, Goodell, NFL Chief Operating Officer, Star Tribune, 3-11-05
See new Blog entries:
3/15/05/#29: “Guess Who’s Coming to [the NFL] Dinner?” Is the NFL changing the rules of the game after it begins? Its gone from “no money no buy” to “its not about money” but “acceptance” in a club. Does this mean the NFL is trying to hang on as a White only Plantation of owners with their teams of Black workers in the field?
3/15/05/#28: Double standard revealed by local press for the White coach and the Black prospective owner.
”Guess Who’s Coming to [the NFL] Dinner?”
Is the NFL changing the rules of the game after it begins? Its gone from “no money no buy” to “its not about money” but “acceptance” in a club. Is this like the Sidney Pottier/Katherine Hepburn/Spencer Tracy movie, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? If the money is thre, why is the dinner invitation offered to Reggie Fowler by Red McCombs now being questioned by the NFL on other grounds? Does this mean the NFL is trying to hang on as a White only Plantation of owners with their teams of Black workers in the field? If so the NFL needs to study why they are resisting who is coming to dinner.
This makes us wonder if there is a Groucho Marx moment going on here. Groucho famously said, “Any club that would have me for a member I wouldn’t join.” We are intriqued by the question applied in reverse to the NFL: what is wrong with the NFL that so many who are qualified to buy a team (the March 28 Forbes lists 341 American billionaires (not to mention another 350 billionaires in outside the U.S.) And that doesn’t count the thousands of “mere” multi-millionaires. We suspect that the NFL has let folks know they don’t want them. That they will render the invitation. Than no one need apply. How else do you explain no bidders for nearly three years? Either the NFL turned away inquiries or hadn’t make up its mind yet because of L.A. and wanted to wait, holding Red out to swing in the breeze (as they controlled him, given they had loaned him $100 million to buy the Vikings). We sense that same denial is now going on with Reggie because he is not “White like us.” If this is so in the NFL it must end now. In the first part of this Solution Paper #25, we listed 4 signal sets that had us concerned. Now we see three more.
The first four were:
(1) The Glen Taylor campaign signals
(2) The Star Tribune discredit campaign signals
(3) The Randy trade signals
(4) The Winter Park leak signals
One of the reasons we are so questioning of the NFL’s motives is because of a column by Larry Fitzgerald on March 3rd, Trading Randy Moss Makes No Sense. Larry is one of the most insightful and accurate sports reporters in the Twin Cities. His conclusion is that the trade “almost guarantees that Reggie Fowler will not become the team’s new owner.” Larry makes the case that this boneheaded move, leaving Reggie out of the loop, is worse than any made by Mike Lynn and Bud Grant, as Brzezsinski joins them in being forever associated as the down side of three of the greatest names in Vikings football, Fran Tarkenton, Alan Page, and Randy Moss, and one who was not, Herschel Walker. Larry outlines what could be the play: get rid of Randy and his contract in order to lower the price for Glen Taylor. Larry thinks Reggie may have been set up as a “patsy.” True enough. Except one thing. Reggie Fowler is no run of the mill entrepreneur. As we wrote in the first section, He is an experienced businessman who knows how to put a deal together, having begun businesses in packaging, aviation, construction, broadcasting, banking, real estate and a Disney theme park, and his Spiral, Inc. is ranked 11th among the top 100 black businesses specializing in industrial/services in 2004, according to Black Enterprise magazine, and as also reported in USA Today If anyone can break the NFL hesitation, it is Reggie Fowler.
New sets of signals:
(5) The double standard for the White Coach and the Black applicant
(6) The process slows, with the headline signaling “Houston, we have a problem” (with the owners being “Houston”)
(7) The “not White like us” signal in changing the game from the objective fact of money to the subjective Sally Fields reversal: “we don’t like you, we really don’t like you,” which is suggested by the comment of NFL Chief Operating Officer, Roger Goodell: “This thing is not just about money. We’re selecting a partner, and that’s a very important decision for an owner.”
Thing? THING? Is that like a wachamacallit? A thingamabob? Or is this the thing than dare not speak its name: “black men need not apply?” See our 2005 Blog entry #21 (2-28-05), and 2005 Column #4 of 2-24-05
Let’s review what the tag team is up to.
We identified a “tag team” of the Strib and PiPress in our March 7 update. It would appear that there are now three members on the tag team opposing Reggie: (1) the Strib (and the locals that feed it), (2) the PiPress (following the Strib’s lead), and (3) the NFL. Let’s repeat that key statement by NFL Chief Operating Officer Roger Goodell: “This is not just about money. We’re selecting a partner, and that’s a very important decision for an owner.” This is so grotesque that we will be repeating it often as a reminder.
Can you believe it? How many times have we Blacks heard that from the Country Club set? Even Howard Dean only sees us as janitors, maids, voters every two years, or yassa boss organizations like the NAACP and, sadly, seemingly more and more, the Congressional Black Caucus (See 2005 Blog entries #27 and #31).
Here are the new Strib pieces to review:
Signal #5: The double standard for the White Coach and the Black new owner signal
• 3-9-05: Tice denies scalping Super Bowl tickets
• 3-10-05: Tice is confident he’ll be cleared
• 3-11-05: Tice says he scalped ‘05 tickets
Signal #6: The “Houston, we have a problem” with the process signal
Signal #7: The “not White like us” signal
• 3-9-05: Vikings sale approval not likely this month
• 3-10-05: Fowler bid discussed, but action not taken
• 3-11-05: Fowler’s bid for Vikings moves slowly toward approval
Signal #5: The double standard for the White Coach and the Black new owner signal
As noted in Blog entry 3/15/05/#28: Double standard revealed by local press for the White coach and the Black prospective owner, the Strib signaled its Black – White distinctions. We detailed the White press’ hysterics about a resume the local PR firm put out without checking with Reggie Fowler in the first part of this Solution Paper #25, on 2-28-05. The PR firm has since apologized, and the questions clarified and answered (although the “damage” had already been attempted). The Strib has lots of double standards. For instance, the Strib has never really condemned Panzerfaust Records when it was up and running in St. Paul, a company that distributed hate filled CDs to middle and high school students. On their web site they boasted that “We don’t just entertain racist kids…we create them.” Once we called them on it (See 12-2-04 Column #25), the Strib finally ran a couple of stories, but the group was shutting down and getting out of town after being busted for drugs.
But no amount of negative publicity was too much when it came to Reggie’s resume. And yet when Vikings Coach Mike Tice tells a baldfaced lie that he didn’t scalp Super Bowl tickets, gets caught, and has to fess up, we read nothing. The Strib chooses to believe a White guy when he lies and cover up for him when he is found to be lying, but won’t accept the word of Black man, even after clarifications have been completed. First the Strib accepted Tice’s denial that he scalped Super Bowl tickets, then printed the next day their faith in Tice’s faith that he is confident he’ll be cleared, and then left it to the Pioneer Press to print the truth the next day, ”Tice says he scalped ‘05 tickets.” Hey Strib, why no outcry? For us this is routine to question the Strib’s integrity and journalism, as they keep providing more evidence of it. When we bring out Vol II of The Minneapolis Story next month, we will index all of our exposures of the Strib and its reporting.
Signal #6: The “Houston, we have a problem” with the process
Signal #7: The “not White like us” signal
Let’s repeat again our 3/15/05 Blog entry #29 question, “Guess Who’s Coming to [the NFL] Dinner?” And let’s repeat what the NFL’s Chief Operating Officer, Roger Goodell said, ”This thing is not just about money. We’re selecting a partner, and that’s a very important decision for an owner,” We are sure the reader can see why this reminds us of the Sidney Pottier/Katherine Hepburn/Spencer Tracy movie, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?”, when the daughter informs her liberal parents that her fiancée, who is coming over dinner that night, is Black. Though liberal in speech they had a hard time accepting their own words of integration and acceptance when they had to practice them.
So we ask, Why is the dinner invitation offered to Reggie Fowler by Red McCombs being questioned by the NFL? Does this mean the NFL is trying to hang on as a White only Plantation of owners with their teams of Black workers in the field as long as possible? From our perspective it looks like the NFL is getting cold feet and is changing the rules of the game after the game began. Its gone from “no money no buy” to “its not about money” but about “acceptance” in a club of “partners”. All of a sudden its not a business but a “family”?
The NFL has now changed the focus from money to the personal. But the courts in recent years have made it abundantly clear that the NFL is a not a closed club, that the owners own their property, and the NFL cannot command them as if the NFL owns all the teams. We raised this issue in or February 28, 20005 section of this Solutions Paper #25. We stated then and we state again: “Reggie Fowler is a qualified bidder for the Vikings.” End of story. The sale should be proforma.
The Vikings are Red McCombs private property. Reggie made a fair market bid. Red accepted it. All the NFL has to do is verify financial capability. Fair enough. Anything else is a smokescreen, as if rich grown men can’t get along with another rich grown man. Commissioner Tagliabue needs to clarify Goodell’s statement, especially in light of his own “no bench” comments at the Super Bowl (see 2005 Blog entry #9).
To make sure they can get away with this, the NFL makes all bidders sign an agreement that they won’t speak about it or sue the NFL if they don’t get their bid. That is like legalizing blackballing, legalizing discrimination, legalizing prejudice. We really question that this document has any real legal standing.
As the 3-9-05 article notes, Reggie and his partners held preliminary discussions with league officials before the agreement. So all was on the table. Nothing is new. And in hopes of getting Reggie to withdraw so they don’t have to be caught in their Augusta Country Club exclusivity discrimination posture, are they, as the articles seem to suggest, attempting to sow dissention between Reggie and his partners hoping their partnership will fall apart. What about that, NFL? What’s up with that?
And how serious is the NFL when we read in the 3-10-05 article that on the first day of meeting, the finance committee only met for 45 minutes. Worse, two of its members didn’t show up. This has all the signs of a process that is being drawn out so the NFL can have time to figure out how to get out of approving Reggie, time to “find something.” To set up the killer blow the next day, Goodell says in the 3-10-05 article, when asked about Reggie’s finances, “That’s the process we’re going through.” Then in the 3-11-05 piece he lets the cat out of the bag, exposing the horseshoe that seems to be in the NFL glove: (and there has been nothing but silence since): “This thing is not just about money. We’re selecting a partner, and that’s a very important decision for an owner.”
How should those of us who have been waging the battle for equal access and equal opportunity for over 40 years (not to mention an unbroken line of such battling for 400 years) interpret this in any other way? Was this stated with a wink, to let the White owners feel OK, that the Goodell statement raised the bar to a kind of Augusta Country Club “blackball” process, and thus, “not to worry,” the Black guy won’t be let in, so that all will remain White like us? Tell us it aint so, Paul. Tell us it ain’t so.
The NFL has special privileges granted by Congress. But discrimination on the basis of color is not one of them. The NFL makes its money on tax payers, either through taxes, tax subsidiized stadiums, games ordered on TV, or buying tickets for the game at the stadium (not to mention apparel and a host of other memorabilia). The NFL is not an OPEC cartel. Each owner’s team is his private property. The NFL is not a partnership. Financial ability to buy a team is one requirement that, although questionable (borrowers are not welcome), the NFL crosses the line if it thinks it can deny Red the right to sell his property when selling it to Reggie is OK with him and Reggie has the money. If the NFL does that it will find out that the nation will then realize that “the emperor wears no clothes.” “Not just about the money” changes the rules and is clearly reads like the discrimination of a private country club. We are hoping the NFL will prove us wrong, that Red’s deal is about money and money only, as it should be.
Right now it looks as if the NFL is trying to see if can close the door on Reggie without anyone noticing. Is the NFL signaling to its owners that it will be OK to say no even though Reggie has the money? Tell us it ain’t so, Paul. We are here to state, uncategorically, that it is not all right. If Reggie doesn’t have the money, that is a different story. But everything we read in the papers so far says he does. Therefore, approving the sale should merely be proforma.
Let’s re-look at the stark truth: for nearly 3 years, no one has offered Red his fair market value. No one from the Forbes 400 richest list. None of the worlds’s 691 billionaires nor our nation’s 341 billionaires made an offer. Nor did any of America’s richest, whether billionaires or millionaires on the Forbes richest 400 list. Nor did any of the Minnesotans listed on the Forbes richest 400 list, people like Dwight Opperman, Richard Schulze, Glen Taylor, Carl Pohlad, James R. Cargill, Barbara Carlson Gage and family, Marilyn Carlson Nelson and family, Whitney MacMillan, Stanley Stub Hubbard, Cargill MacMillan, Jr., W. Duncan MacMillan, John Hugh MacMillan III (living in Florida). Nor did any of the lesser wealthy (but wealthy enough to form a Minnesota buying group) step up, such as Harvey McKay, John Cowles, Jr., or old Vikings hands like Jaye Dyer, Skip Maas, Jim Junt, James Binger, or Elizabeth MacMillan, who said they wanted to be partners in ownership with Red but then Red changed his mind and froze them out (p. 190 of his book, The Red Zone: Cars, Cows, and Coaches). When he put the team up for sale why didn’t they step up during the past three years? None of these has come forward. This is why we maintained for a long time that until recently that the plan was for the Vikings leave Minnesota (See our Solutions Paper #24).
Not one of them came forward to offer Red a fair market value (athough Glen
Taylor has always had an insulting bargain basement price on the table). Then
a Black man comes forth and the game is changed. All of a sudden its not about
money. Its about a club of white rich boys that want to keep it that way.
We are here to announce that in a world where the breeze of freedom is blowing around the world and the chains of the oppressed are being broken in places not dreamed of by many but always hoped for by us, the NFL is on the wrong side of history if it takes the “Augusta country club subjective discrimination prejudice” route. Augusta is a private club.
The NFL, no matter how much it wants us to believe that it is a single, strutting peacock with 32 feathers, has to understand that we all understand the peacock is all for show, that it is really, legally, institutionally, 32 separate peacocks competing for one Super Bowl feather. Recent court decisions have so decreed. It is 32 owners of individual private property who get together to agree how to schedule games, what rules to follow, how to divide the shared pies, etc. The NFL is not about a king with 32 Lords of their castle. It is about a business where the medium of exchange is money, whether for tickets, pay for view, TV packages, or purchasing a team, and the 32 teams are sovereign entities of private property that can be sold at their discretion to anyone who qualifies financially. Period.
If the owners turn down a Black man who has the money, we will all see the NFL for what it is, an overt, in your face, country club racism fostering discrimination. And by “we” I mean fans, players, tax payers, and legislators. We are all watching. Let us know you are playing by your own rules, NFL, take away our doubt. Tell us, show us, that you are not saying that the super rich in your club can tell the lesser rich what they can and cannot own and that they, especially if they are Black, must learn to stay in their place, outside the country club (unless, of course, they are janitors, maids or waiters). Pollster John Zogby reports that 46% of this country identify themselves as owners of some kind of investment. That is a lot of people who believe in some form of property rights. This rapidly-growing category, Zogby writes, “is a far greater determinant of how they will vote and how they see their world than income, religion, race, marital status, or size of individual portfolio.” When a “tectonic shift” to 46% of those polled considering themselves part o the investor class, somethng significant is happening. Whatever it is, the NFL ignores this at its peril.
We have sounded a bit negative. We don’t mean to. We mean to be assess as realistically as possible. It has always been our aim to enable people with extreme views to to find the common ground where all can work together. To not write what we have written above would mean we would have to have no doubts. Our 40 year history in this effort has taught us that until breakthroughs occur we dare not take our eye off the prize and we dare not relax until the prize is won. We believe we are at a crucial historic moment. We believe the NFL is capable of making an historic breakthrough. We are here to encourage them to do so. We are here to hold the NFL up to its own high standards. We are here to encourage the NFL to listen to its better angels, to do the right thing, and that if Reggie has the money, not step inbetween Red’s private property rights to sell and Reggie’s to buy. Anything else would not be American. We believe in the entrepreneurial American way. It creates jobs, enables wealth creation. We believe in it for everyone, not just White folks. Reggie Fowler has achieved greatly. If he has the money, he has earned his place at the NFL table. We wait to be able to congratulate the NFL for, in the end, doing the right thing: standing aside as one one owner sells his team to someone who has bid and can pay. We perfectly understand the need of Reggie to first proove he can pay. He can. The deal must now be consummated, sooner than later, so that the new owner has time to gear up to be competitive.
Thus, we repeat our bottom line:
Based on the media evidence discussed in this Solutions Paper #25, and on 40 years of community activist work and experience interacting with the mahstus and wannabe mahstus, we have seen all the “put them in their place” tactics this country can throw at a worthy Brother. You don’t have to meet Reggie Fowler (and I have not) to know that, given his record, he is a positive force who will work well with Minnesotans and infuse a sense of vision that is so needed (that I talk about in my book, pp. 262-263) . We have our cautious eye on the NFL and will continue to fight for what is right. But in terms of Reggie Fowler, unless something happens not now envisioned, Reggie Fowler can make the application because he is qualified to be the Vikings owner, as:
(1) he meets the financial strength required by the NFL.
(2) one of his partners has professional (NBA) team ownership experience and all have plenty of money.
(3) two of his closest aides, Kevin Warren and John Misler, are old NFL hands as former players or executives in the NFL.
(4). He is an experienced businessman who knows how to put a deal together, having begun businesses in packaging, aviation, construction, broadcasting, banking, real estate and a Disney theme park, and his Spiral, Inc. is ranked 11th among the top 100 black businesses specializing in industrial/services in 2004, according to Black Enterprise magazine, and as also reported in USA Today Thus he’ll be able to put this one together.
(5) he has a process for solving the stadium question.
I rest my case.
The NFL has come to the same conclusion.
The question now is whether or not they will do what is best for the team and the league, and not get in the way of Red selling the Vikings to Reggie Fowler.
Posted 3-16-05, 6:42 a.m.
Ron hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his “watchdog” role for Minneapolis. Order his book, hear his voice, read his solution papers, and read his between columns “web log” at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.
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