I bring up this present day programming to illustrate the racist and hypocritical coverage that ESPN creates. It was a short three years ago that the network did the same thing to Terrell Owens that it has now done to Brett Favre. Thanks in part to ESPN's coverage, TO became public enemy #1 for contract demands he was making towards the Philadelphia Eagles. As is par with the course, meaningless events became overblown news stories, such as TO's agent holding a press conference or a fight in preseason training camp. Furthermore, virtually every talking head on ESPN went well out of their way to convict Owens in the court of public opinion before the entire story even played itself out. So thanks to ESPN's willingness to create controversy in Owens' contract dispute and their incredible pull they have in shaping public opinion on such issues thanks to the sports coverage monopoly they have, Terrell Owens career was forever changed. Nevermind the fact that Owens obviously loves the spotlight, the true crime in this entire saga from three years ago was in that TO is now commonly portrayed as a greedy thug who cares more about himself than any team he has ever been on. This depiction has become so engrained in public thinking that all of TO's ensuing accomplishments have taken a backseat to his perceived nature. Forget that Owens has scored double-digit touchdowns since joining Dallas, or that he has never had an issue with the law, or even that he has been a model teammate for his new team, the bottom line is that he will always be better known for the description that ESPN created for him three years ago.
Now fast forward to the present day. Its painfully obvious that ESPN is desperate for another publicity horse to ride during the slow days of summer. You'd think that they'd jump at a chance for any mention of a story involving Terrell Owens, considering how obsessed they have been to crucify the man during any of their television shows or game coverage, especially if the story possibly involved one of their own writers. Therefore, it brought a smile to my face to read the following account from ESPN writer Sam Alipour, and then the overwhelming lack of mention of the event in the following days from the network.
"Terrell Owens was standing over me. I'm told he was the first do-gooder on the scene of the accident. That he helped me to my feet and off the street to safe ground. That he didn't leave my side. It seems the mercurial Dallas Cowboys receiver is my hero. But my hero looks scared, and this scares me."Wow, you all right, man?" Owens kept asking me, but in a manner that would suggest there is no possible way that I, in fact, could be all right. "Don't move. Just sit there. Breathe. Don't move."It's now that I noticed the car's jacked windshield, which sports a hole the size of, well, my upper torso.[...]"That was crazy. Crazy," Owens confirmed. "You all right, man?"
So wait. The same TO that has been portrayed as a menace to society actually helped someone? And furthermore, the same man who had been drawn through the mud more than anyone else in the history of the network actually made sure an employee of that network was OK after suffering a severe car crash? Wow, that sure makes TO sound like a normal human to me, not the fire-breathing monster that hates his teammates as much as he loves money, which is after all what ESPN led us to believe. This whole revelation was way too much for ESPN to report, after all their little lab creation had turned human right before their eyes. So ESPN decided to make no mention of the accident and TO's response anywhere on their site or on their network, even though the event involved one of their own employees. The only show that even paid lip-service to the event was "ESPN First Take" on which Skip Bayless opined that TO didn't help the man out of the car out of goodness of heart, but instead implied that his actions were staged so that he'd become more of a good guy in the eyes of public perception. Basically it came down to ESPN having a chance to apologize to a man they did their best to destroy, but instead they came off as too prideful to acknowledge even one good thing that Terrell Owens did in his life.
I'll complete this commentary by comparing the Terrell Owens coverage to that of which ESPN has given to Brett Favre. For two athletes that are much more similar than you would think, ESPN has clearly taken sides based untrue racial beliefs and our society's hidden fear to accept black people the same way we accept whites. Lets take a look and see how similar Owens and Favre really are. Both won Super Bowl titles early in their career and have failed to since. Owens has come closest recently, putting in a legendary performance on a broken foot against the Patriots, while Favre interceptions have led to the two most recent Packer losses in NFC Championship games. Both men have achieved NFL records during their career. Favre has virtually every passing record in the league, and Owens may very well have a chance at wide reciever career records if he maintains his current pace. Both men are fearsome competitors willing to play through pain in order to win. On the opposite end of things, both men also have enormous ego's that have led to similar events in their careers, although the media has treated them very differently. Whereas Owens' confrontations with quarterbacks Jeff Garcia and Donovan McNabb have turned him into a egotistical manaic, Favre's confrontations with star receiver Javon Walker and understudy Aaron Rodgers have been blown over time after time. And while Owens' desire to play for a different team made him selfish, Favre's obvious intention to play for the Minnesota Vikings is fine and dandy in the eyes of the media. In fact, if you look at the play of both men in recent years, it can be argued that it is Owens who deserves the benefit of the doubt more than Favre. While Owens is still a top-5 receiver in the NFL, Favre's play has been falling off greatly in recent years. (And for those buffoons who think Favre had a great year last year, the reason he was better was because defenses had to focus on the Packers running game which allowed Favre more time to find his two excellent recievers on the outside against single coverage). It was Favre who threw the interception in overtime against the Giants, yet he is still glorified and exempted from any sort of blame.
So after looking at every angle in this comparison, its easy to see that the difference between Brett Favre and Terrell Owens comes down to one constrast that is as easy to see as black and white. Favre for almost 20 years has been the white hero of America, the kind of guy that we can look up to and admire. Substance abuse, illegitimate children, greed, selfishness, and bad play have all been ignored while ESPN and the rest of the media focus more on the fact that Favre "has fun" when he plays, "seems like a nice guy to be around", and "only cares about winning". On the other hand, Owens has become the black boogeyman for our society, a figure who becomes the straw man for white Americans to implicity state the racist beliefs they still have towards blacks. He is the greedy black thug who cares about money more than his teammates. He is a publicity whore who is destroying our country's moral fabric. He is the player who parents refuse to allow their son's to pretend to be in backyard football games. He may even be gay. Nevermind the fact that he is one of the best wide receivers in NFL history who has played injured in the biggest games and still produced, who has become an excellent teammate since joining the Dallas Cowboys, and even helps out people involved in car crashes, that side of TO doesn't help further ESPN's racial agenda, which is all about glorifying white men while crucifying similar black men and forcing its viewers to agree with this perception.