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If you're into language, the Unites States Constitution is a pretty nice read. The elegant flow of Colonial prose is captivating. Thomas Jefferson, for all his faults on the slavery issue, was a dandy wordsmith. Just the opening to the preamble is wonderful in its scope of vision and inclusiveness: "We, the people ... "
How exactly those words and that document pertain to the modern sports world ... well, Bill Clinton said it better than I can. Before the latest Super Bowl, as he was seated next to the original President George Bush, Clinton said something to the effect that "at one time, only white male landowners had rights. Now there's no place we can't go."
And for all of his faults on the adultery issue, Bill Clinton just might be a bona fide mystic. Turns out he's right. We, the people, really can go just about anywhere -- the latest destination being the NFL owners' boardroom.
Thomas Jefferson and crew never actually said that only white men who owned land could have the power. Didn't have to. It was pretty well understood. Beliefs about the inferiority of black folks didn't have to be voiced, or written. It was common knowledge that, aside from impersonating mules, blacks had nothing significant to offer society. A black man wasn't even a whole human back then -- he was merely 3/5 of his white counterpart.
Now, Reggie Fowler, a black man and whole human being, stands to become the first black owner in the history of the NFL, and he's faced with questions about his integrity. Seems not all of his résumé was nonfiction. He admitted recently that he didn't actually play for the Cincinnati Bengals in 1982, as his résumé had stated. He just went to a training camp. He did the same with the Calgary Stampeders in 1983.
The résumé also originally claimed that Fowler graduated with a degree in business from the University of Wyoming -- when the degree, in fact, was in social work.
Fowler maintains that the dishonesty was intended to help him land a job.
"Years ago, when I was looking for companies, I didn't think they wanted to hire a guy in social work," he said. "I thought they wanted to hire a guy with a business degree."
I'm inclined to agree with him. To land a job, he had to look the part and tell the right story. And today, Fowler's story happens to be the right one.
That all of this happened in February, during Black History Month, isn't lost on Yours Truly.
Now, on issues pertaining to Black History Month, I'm not so moved by what things are (such as the fact that there are six black coaches in the NFL and three in college) as I am by what they mean. I'm interested in the impact a black presence among NFL owners has on the landscape.
When it comes to issues of race in environs as exclusive as NFL ownership, most folks trade speech for a poker face. The status quo is maintained by a cool, steely glare -- one that reveals no thought and betrays no feeling. But now that Fowler is poised to enter the once-forbidden city and take a seat at his first owners' meeting, how will the other owners see him? And what does it mean?