Thursday, November 30, 2006

"Sound and fury, signifying nothing"

I've realized now that the Michael Irvin's comments story is not a story in and of itself. It is a story-driven story.

Why do I say this?

Because it's about offensive comments that in truth offended nobody.

I want you to look sincerely into your mind and ask two questions:

1. Were you personally offended or insulted by Irvin's comments?
2. To what extent was your self-esteem damaged by Irvin's comments?

If you answered "yes" to the first question and anything significant to the second question, get ready to be offended again: you're an idiot. Seriously, I don't think a single person listening to Irvin's comments on Dan Patrick's show was personally offended or had his/her self-esteem damaged in any way. It's only a story to the extent that anybody is making it a story.

When Rush Limbaugh suggested that Donovan McNabb was overrated because he was black, he actually did offend people. He suggested a black player wasn't good enough on his own merit, and that the media was propping him up as better than he was because he was black. It is reasonable to be offended by such a statement. What he said could have hurt the self-esteem of aspiring black quarterbacks. Now, I'm a firm advocate of free speech--Limbaugh has every right to make those comments (though he doesn't have a "right" to make them on any particular network). But his comments did actually, sincerely, and personally offend people.

Irvin's did not. If you were personally offended by Irvin's comments, I don't know what to say to you. It probably means you are frequently offended for all sorts of meaningless things and you are a very unhappy person. What he said was not offensive enough to deserve outrage from anybody. He made a (bad) joke that used (widely held) stereotypes about athleticism and race. That's it.

Make no mistake about it--I think Irvin is a lousy commentator. But any outrage over his comments on race, athleticism, and Tony Romo is severely misplaced.


  1. PV, just admit you have a man crush Michael Irvin. You're obsessed. At least, MI is interesting. Even if for all the wrong reasons, I respect him as an analyst.

    Rush Limbaugh was technically right about McNabb, especially in hindsight. At the time, there weren't that many Black QBs, analysts were noticing that and they were eager to slurp him because he was having some success. And now, there is a reasonable basis to believe that McNabb will never be as great as he was held out to be early on.

    However, the messenger matters. I was never interested in defending Rush Limbaugh because I'm inclined to believe he is just being incendiary rather than stating a genuine, informed opinion, much less making a joke or just innoncently stating something out of ignorance. Say, a White guy like Robert De Niro said the exact same statement. I would never assume he was saying it to be an asshole. He has 3 Black kids. He's entrenched. That same statement would just launch a discussion on the merits of McNabb as a great QB.

    But Limbaugh is a jerk. He hasn't earned the benefit of the doubt. But, technically, I think he was right.

  2. Anonymous7:22 PM

    Let me preface this question with a disclaimer that I find highly irritating to have to right: I have nothing against blacks, their history, talent, brainpower, personality, or anything else. As a matter of fact, I love T-Jack as our QB and I think he has a bright future in the NFL.

    What if Rush Limbaugh was employed by ESPN today and had said something like "Tony Romo is not a good QB, and the media is propping him up because he's a Cowboys QB." Where's the outrage now? Yeah, you'll get a few disgruntled fans, but for the most part people will just take it as a personal opinion.

    The way you say it, "A black player was not good enough on his own rights", implies that all black players are HoF caliber and immune from any kind of dispute.

    Rush Limbaugh was talking from a viewpoint of pure stats and common sense; McNabb really didn't have a truly Pro Bowl season (or a season with a QB rating over 86.0) until his infamous 2004 season.

    Here's a question and I'll close: If race is not supposed to be such a big issue, then why does the media bring it up all the time? When the NFL N ran their Black QB Tribute and they talked about Vince Young, they went at his supposed Wonderlic score of 6 as "how dare you suggest that a black QB had a low score in the wonderlic". They even said that "because of [the questions]", it caused Young to fall all the way to number 3, neglecting to mention that Houston had re-signed David Carr to a big contract and the Saints had picked up Drew Brees, a proven Pro Bowl QB.

    Food for thought.