What Had Happened Was Trending stories on the intersections of race, sports & culture

Daily Dose: 9/15/16

America’s black history museum is ready for its close-up

2:01 PMIf you’ve ever been in a spelling bee, you know it’s stressful. For whatever reason, I’ve signed up to do another one next week at the National Press Club. Maybe I’ll win this time.

Another day, another black kid gets killed by police in Ohio. This time it was in Columbus, Ohio, where a kid was carrying a BB gun that apparently is a replica of a police weapon. He’s alleged to have been involved in an armed robbery, which means that if you’re black, you deserve to die, apparently. Unsurprisingly, the mayor of the city came out and said we of course need to have “patience.” Funny how in this scenario the authorities never seem to say that we need to find, say, “justice” or “peace.” ABC News reports on Tyree King’s death.

The Emmys are coming up on Sunday. You can prepare yourself for a night full of white people walking on stage to accept their trophies. Oh, wait, what’s that? The voting mechanism was changed up, and there’s now a lot more shows with people of color involved? Yippee. I guess that means we’re really not sure who’s going to win anything. Meanwhile, we’ve got newspapers asking us if “diverse TV” is here to stay. Anyway, FiveThirtyEight’s Walt Hickey breaks down the strongest Emmy categories of all time.

I went to the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Wednesday. The place is incredible. It’s got just about everything you could want and, if we’re being honest, is probably the best pound-for-pound museum that the Smithsonian has. The food was solid, too. It officially opens up next week and I imagined that it’ll basically be jam-packed for the better part of an entire calendar year. Which means, if you want tickets, you better sign up now. ABC News took a look inside of the facility.

My thoughts on Harambe jokes are well-known. They are basically all funny to me. College GameDay is awash in signs commemorating the slain gorilla and the meme has people making up fake stories about Chinese zoos and colleges handing out stuffed animals to remember the former Cincinnati Zoo resident. Harambe is the meme of 2016. So, of course, people want to get jerseys with his name on it. For whatever reason, someone thought this would be a good thing to ban. ESPN reports that said ban has now been reversed.

Free Food

Coffee Break: If you’re wondering why NFL teams spend so much energy showing love to the troops, now we know why. It’s not because of their love of the military, or the flag, or the national anthem. It’s because the Department of Defense paid them. With tax dollars. Think of this the next time you worry about what San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick does.

Snack Time: The family of Sandra Bland has settled for $1.9 million in a wrongful death lawsuit. She died in a Texas jail cell after she was pulled over for failing to use a turn signal. The video of her arrest is heartbreaking.

Dessert: There’s new music from Play Action and Hit Boy. Dope track.

All Day Podcast: 9/13/16

Domonique Foxworth fills in for Justin Tinsley this week

6:11 PMBack by popular demand, senior writer Domonique Foxworth joined the All Day Podcast crew this week, filling in for staff writer Justin Tinsley. We talk San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, what’s in store this fall in black television and the Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony with host Clinton Yates and senior style writer Jill Hudson.

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After deciding to take a stance against the national anthem during the NFL preseason, Kaepernick has carried his silent protests into the regular season — and other players have joined him. Domonique and Clinton discussed this topic on this week’s edition of Locker Room Lawyer, too, but the podcast crew took a deeper dive into the impact Kaepernick is having throughout the league.

It’s TV Week at The Undefeated, and one show that’s part of the blackest fall in television ever is Donald Glover’s new FX series Atlanta, which everyone is talking about, so we did, too. Last but not least, we dedicate the final segment of the show to the 2016 Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which yielded many great speeches — especially the one delivered by Allen “The Answer” Iverson.

Give it a listen, and if you have any feedback or show ideas, feel free to email us at allday@theundefeated.com.

The best and worst of the NFL’s new Color Rush uniforms

See what’s hot and what’s not

6:00 PMThe NFL recently released its latest edition of Color Rush uniforms. When you put them all together, they look like someone at the Skittles factory was trying to invent new flavors on the spot.

https://twitter.com/ChickenNGreens/status/775689240306814976

As with all uniform releases, there are some hot ones and then there are some that we never want to see ever again.

Hot: Pittsburgh Steelers

This prime color scheme is going to look so fresh in the nighttime. You can hate on the Steelers all you want, but these are 🔥.

Hot: Any team in black.

  • Detroit Lions, Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles

All of the black Color Rush uniforms came out so fresh, so clean. Even though the Eagles kind of already have these anyway. These are going to look so freakin’ cool in the nighttime.

The Lions jerseys are so sleek, smooth and cool. However, according to the team’s website, they will not be wearing them this year.

Hot: New York Giants.

These are among the cleanest jerseys that were released. The crisp color scheme and the fact that this uniform isn’t doing the most on the eyeballs is pretty good to see. They also look like the Buffalo Bills’ regular jerseys, but that’s none of my business.

Also hot: Seattle Seahawks

Don’t @ me. These are 🔥🔥.

Get those jokes off, though.

https://twitter.com/TheseGuysSP/status/775723967545942016

Not hot: Washington Redskins

These Color Rush jerseys are the worst in the NFC East. I feel like wide receiver DeSean Jackson would cause a blur for quarterback Kirk Cousins just by running a go-route.

Not hot: Jacksonville Jaguars

No.

No.

No.

These are terrible. You can’t tell me otherwise.

Also not hot: Cleveland Browns

The Browns have a bad color scheme, and this is the best they could do, honestly. But at least it’s not all orange.

 

You can judge for yourself and view all of the Color Rush reveals on theNFL’s Twitter account.

New Tupac biopic trailer is haunting

The Benny Boom-directed movie is set for a November release

5:45 PMThe day that Tupac Shakur died, the rap world was forever changed, obviously. But the moment itself happened in a different way. It was 20 years ago, at a time when 24-hour news was still in what we’ll call its teenage phase of its now fully formed adult life span. If you weren’t sitting by a radio or a television, you likely didn’t find out about the murder until you ran into someone who was a hip-hop fan.

There was something instantly spooky about the whole deal. It was Friday the 13th. Early evening on the East Coast, mid-afternoon on the West Coast. Even though he had a song titled To Live and Die in L.A., Tupac’s demise came in Las Vegas. It was a situation that instantly led to rampant speculation that decades later still hasn’t ended. The notion of Tupac not really being dead was something that some respectable people took sort of seriously for longer than you think.

All that said, imagine being at an actual rap show when you found out that the genre’s biggest star had died. This video is of Ed Lover, who was then at the height of his power as the host of both Yo! MTV Raps and HOT 97’s morning show on New York radio. For him to jump on stage and stop a show, a Nas concert at that, is a sight to behold.

There’s so much going on in this video. We’re not going to take any time talking about Nas’ red leather overalls — it was prime Esco season — but his pacing around the stage is telling. Who knows what could be going on in his head in such a moment. Ed gets right to it in an informative and direct manner.

“At 7:03 p.m. New York time and 4:03 p.m. Las Vegas time, Tupac Shakur passed away, y’all,” he says. “Give me a moment of silence.” The rest involves him explaining his love for hip-hop, his respect for ‘Pac and general desire for humanity. But in retrospect, this is borderline amazing. People sort of scream in horror, but mostly are stunned. Then they take a moment of silence. This could have gone much more poorly. Never mind a potential crowd panic, but Ed and ‘Pac were legit tight. Imagine having to tell a crowd full of people that your friend had just passed. Haunting.

Which brings us to the latest trailer for the 2016 Tupac biopic All Eyez On Me. The first trailer, released back in June, was more of an initial window into just how well Demetrius Shipp Jr. is going to be able to play this iconic role. The second trailer provides a way more in-depth look at just what this movie is going to be about.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZlXHAbX3TY

It starts with a line about police brutality that is still pertinent today. Then, a stunner of a line. “Like all black leaders, you have a bull’s-eye on your back,” Danai Gurira says as Tupac’s mother, Afeni Shakur. “I ain’t no black leader,” he replies. The trailer goes on to unfurl some pretty violent scenes, but it’s clear this movie is not going to shy away from certain grim realities.

Who knows how this movie will be received. At this juncture, we’re so far away from his death and his mother’s recent passing that it makes this project feel like arguably one of the most important movies about hip-hop ever made. Meanwhile, artists such as Lil Yachty are openly bragging about how they know none of his work. Fair enough, if you were born after he died, that’s marginally understandable.

Because of where we are in hip-hop’s lifetime, these biopics of artists from a certain era are all over the place. The media field has grown, there’s more to draw from and it feels like every six months we get a new flick about someone who was huge back in the day. Tupac is a different beast, though. If nothing else, this second trailer indicates that director Benny Boom’s third feature film will capture viewers well outside of the rap world, just like Tupac did in life.

Locker Room Lawyer

Locker Room Lawyer, Episode 7: National anthem protests

Which is the better protest: kneeling or raising a fist?

1:24 PMIn this week’s edition of Locker Room Lawyer, Clinton Yates and Domonique Foxworth take the case of national anthem protests by players across the NFL to The Undefeated courtroom.

During Week 1 of the NFL regular season, 18 players followed the lead of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick by protesting the national anthem before games due to injustices black people face in this country. Some, like Kaepernick, knelt while The Star-Spangled Banner was played. Others raised a fist in the air and bowed their heads, a nod to the “Black Power salute” popularized by sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.

But which one is the better protest?

Domonique, the Locker Room Lawyer, takes the side of the players who rose their fists. Clinton sides with the players who knelt.

Check out the video, and if you have any professional athlete in mind (past or present) who needs the Locker Room Lawyer’s representation, feel free to email us at allday@theundefeated.com with episode ideas. Also, check out our weekly All Day Podcast.

Daily Dose: 9/13/16

Edward Snowden is going big with the requests

1:00 PMWe’ve got another Locker Room Lawyer for you this week, talking about the protests of the national anthem we’ve seen around the NFL and elsewhere, lately. Check it out.

Edward Snowden is having a big week. There’s a movie coming out about his life in which Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays him, and now he’s getting chesty and saying that he deserves a pardon from President Barack Obama. Mind you, the question of whether Snowden is nothing more than a hacker with an ego or an actual American patriot is still up for debate in most polite circles. Running to Russia didn’t help his cause from a sympathy standpoint, either. ABC News reports on the former National Security Agency contractor’s request.

North Carolina keeps taking L’s. Because of House Bill 2, more colloquially known as the “bathroom bill,” more companies have been pulling their business out of the state. The NBA pulled the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte and now the NCAA is doing the same. Two rounds of the men’s basketball tournament will be relocated, among other sports, too. Needless to say, Republicans in the state aren’t happy about it. Their clapback was rather epic, even if many saw it as misguided. ESPN’s Andy Katz reports.

College is a very different world from what it was 20 years ago. What used to be considered a relatively spartan experience in terms of living has now turned into something more along the lines of luxury, for those who can afford to live in on-campus facilities. Heck, half of those places are nicer than most of the apartments I’ve lived in. But that’s not the reason why the cost of education is skyrocketing. FiveThirtyEight’s Doug Webber explains what is causing tuition prices to be so high.

Things got real on Dancing With the Stars on Monday night. Noted liar and suspended swimmer Ryan Lochte, a contestant on the show, was rushed by two men during a live airing of the show. Two dudes are still unhappy that he’s on the program at all, considering the stunt he pulled during the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro that embarrassed everyone involved. Bum-rushing someone on a TV set is a bold move, though. The dudes even had anti-Lochte T-shirts on, which is next-level wild. ESPN’s Michael Rothstein reports.

Free Food

Coffee Break: Playing sports with one’s eyes open is hard enough, for most people. Just like standing upright and trying to run and throw things are difficult, too. Now, imagine trying to do all that with a blindfold on. That’s exactly what goalball is and they’re playing it at the Paralympic Games in Rio right now. This sport is awesome.

Snack Time: Don’t run onto the field if professional athletes are playing. Just don’t do it. You will get wrecked and you will get arrested. But if you’re watching, it can be hilarious. Luckily, the world has Kevin Harlan in it.

Dessert: Watch this. Trust me.

Adam Jones supports NFL protests

Orioles outfielder calls baseball ‘a white man’s sport’

4:39 PMAdam Jones stays woke.

The 31-year-old Baltimore Orioles outfielder spoke up about why we haven’t seen any black baseball players sit in protest of the national anthem, and he didn’t mince his words one bit. “Baseball is a white man’s sport,” he toldUSA TODAY. On its surface, this is not news. Major League Baseball has publicly acknowledged its diversity problem, going so far as to form a task force back in 2013 to combat the issue.

But Jones’ larger point sheds light on how difficult protesting can be for certain athletes. Even with guaranteed contracts and the league’s history in integration, players don’t feel empowered enough to speak out. More importantly, it highlights how actively non-progressive MLB has been when it comes to social commentary, recently. Remember this is the same league that played a game with no one in the stands for fear of what might occur after police killed Freddie Gray and the streets reacted.

Meanwhile, with Week 1 of the NFL bringing a fresh round of demonstrations, America’s pastime feels woefully behind. There are only a few managers of color in the game and the ranks aren’t much better when it comes to executives in front offices. Jones is a perfect player to reinforce that message, for those of you who seem to believe that only people of a certain caliber are worthy of doing so. Let’s not forget that someone actually threw a banana at him during a game once in San Francisco.

“The First Amendment says we have freedom of expression,” Jones said. “We’re supposed to be so free, so free. But anytime anybody of color speaks up in the United States, for some odd reason, they always get the raw end of the deal. It sucks.”

Jones stands during the anthem, but perhaps, like San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, his basic acknowledgment of the issue at hand may inspire others to do so, as well. The Orioles are currently in wild-card position in the American League, which means if they make a decent playoff run, Jones will have a much bigger platform to speak from. Baseball needs it.

Daily Dose: 9/12/16

Hillary Clinton’s health becomes an issue on the campaign trail

12:00 PMHappy Monday, folks. Hope you all got your NFL fix.

The presidential race took an odd turn Sunday. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, at a 9/11 commemoration event, was forced to leave after a medical episode. It’s particularly awkward because Republican nominee Donald Trump had been crassly referring to her health situation as a matter of course, then something actually happened. Perhaps even more strangely, Trump was actually rather gracious about the situation when making a television appearance on FOX News afterward. He also indicated that he’ll be releasing his own medical records, too. ABC News reports.

Every couple years, people decide that they want to make a new place the it city. Scores of young people get out of college, move to a place and suddenly breweries, vinyl shops and Uber start showing up. That, or a place where people had been minding their business for years is suddenly overrun with vultures trying to make a buck. Portland, Oregon, and Nashville, Tennessee, come to mind on this list. Apparently, the latest place for growth is St. Louis, which is a bit of a shocker. FiveThirtyEight’s Ben Casselman explains.

Erin Henderson is not a household name. He’s a linebacker for the New York Jets who wasn’t exactly a big-time college player. You might remember his older brother, E.J., from his days at the University of Maryland. Anyway, Erin’s been struggling with substance abuse for some time. It’s affected his NFL career quite a bit, and nearly gotten him blackballed from the league. But, he’s back now, his life is more stable and he’s got a new contract to show for it. VICE‘s Dom Cosentino explains why he’s the best comeback story in the league.

In case you were too busy with football, don’t forget, there’s still a baseball season going on. And it happens to be David Ortiz’s last in the big leagues. He’s not just making a retirement tour, either. The Red Sox are leading the AL East and Big Papi is mashing. He kept up his hot streak Sunday in Toronto, where he mashed a serious bomb to put his team up late in the game. If you didn’t see it, click here. On a larger level, though, what he’s doing is amazing. If there was any doubt about him being a first ballot Hall of Famer, that’s gone.

Free Food

Coffee Break: The sports media world is so crowded these days, that if you make something up and sound semi-believable, people might run with it as if it’s real. Such was the case for the website Coral, which typically tweets about gambling. The website made a sarcastic joke about soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, and I haven’t stopped laughing yet.

Snack Time: In case you were wondering, yes, it’s real that many people presume that black people don’t feel as much physical pain as other people. So, it should be no surprise that such a phenomenon also extends to hospitals.

Dessert: Hip-hop and wrestling are a great combo. And when Smoke DZA makes tapes about the two, it’s even better.

LeBron James’ empire grows in the TV world

He’s got another show on deck

5:15 PMIf you haven’t been paying attention, LeBron James has been building a lovely little TV portfolio. In August, his reality program Cleveland Hustles debuted on CNBC, a reality program that followed the travails of small-business owners in the 216. Not only was it a good look for the Cleveland Cavaliers star and NBA world champion to bestow upon his city, people were so into the idea that there were public screenings held for the program.

Now, he’s back at it again, this time with a scripted drama about the world of sports medicine. With all of the ridiculous shows surrounding both the sports world and the constant stream of medical dramas we’re fed on television, it’s a wonder it took so long to get to this point. Leave it to James to change the game.

His company SpringHill Entertainment sold it to NBC, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Dr. James Andrews is an executive producer, which basically means that this is going to be a quasi-fictionalized version of his life, because he’s the only person in the sports medicine world who’s an actual household name. The show doesn’t have a name yet, so let’s offer up some ideas, shall we?

Tommy John — Cursed with the name of the most famous surgery in baseball history, a young man grows up looking to become a welder, only to discover through a chance meeting with an old high school flame that medicine is his true calling.

Nuts & Bolts — During the day, he’s the country’s most famous sports medicine expert. At night, he takes care of his old crabby father, whose outdated views on the world he tries to temper, alongside the old man’s endless use of car mechanic analogies for both his son’s profession and the real world.

Step Into My Office — Mary Uku is West Africa’s most prominent orthopedic surgeon who’s been practicing in England for 10 years. When she moves to the U.S. to specialize in operating on soccer players, the fact that she’s a woman is just as much of a problem as her Nigerian heritage when it comes to dealing with American athletes.

Feel free to send all royalty checks to clinton.yates@espn.com.

Daily Dose: 9/9/16

Brandon Marshall in support of Colin Kaepernick

12:34 PMCousin Aaron went to see Kanye West on Thursday night and hasn’t stop talking about it since. Legit “life-changing” were his words. Check out his report on the show.

Brandon Marshall took a page out of Colin Kaepernick’s book Thursday night. The Denver Broncos linebacker chose to kneel during the national anthem Thursday night in Denver. Yet, because everyone on Twitter is an idiot, people began trolling New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall about the whole matter, even though, coincidentally, he also commented on the matter earlier in the week. Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see how this goes come Sunday across the league, particularly because it’ll be the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. ESPN’s Jeff Legwold reports.

If you haven’t been paying attention, North Korea is out here dropping bombs. Not like Funkmaster Flex, like actual nuclear tests, which is a serious problem. It’s the fifth time the country has done so and President Barack Obama is not happy about the matter. Mind you, this is the same nation in which North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has tried to ban sarcasm because he’s not here for those games. ABC News reports on exactly what all the worldwide implications are for such a reckless act, as the South Korean president called it.

When you find money on the floor, what do you do? There are a couple of schools of thought on this. One is, if you see who dropped it, obviously, you alert the person of the drop and what he or she does after that is on that person. If you didn’t see who dropped it, different matter. Also, if it’s anything $20 bill or under, it’s fair game. But let’s just say you’re in the office and you see a $100 on the floor. What do you do? FiveThirtyEight’s Oliver Roeder has a new edition of The Riddler that asks exactly that.

It’s Serena Day over here at The Undefeated. We’ve all changed our profile bios to pictures of the tennis great, and we’ll have stories about her across the site for the duration. Of course, on Thursday night, her U.S. Open run came to a close after she lost to Karolina Pliskova in the semifinals. She talked about how much pain her knee was in, but also noted that it wasn’t really an excuse. It should be noted that Pliskova also beat Venus Williams in this tournament. Anyway, I wrote something about Serena, my favorite athlete of all time.

Free Food

Coffee Break: Cable cars as a concept are absolutely terrifying, probably because I watched too many action movies as a kid in which someone met an awful demise due to malfunction or attack. But in France, they’re a part of life in the Alps. So, when I read “passengers stranded overnight in cable cars,” I almost passed out.

Snack Time: Here’s a question for you. Never mind if aliens are real or not, let’s ponder a different question: If they were to make contact with us, who exactly should we be sending to talk/communicate with them? I have no idea.

Dessert: Rest in peace, Prince Buster. We’ll play a few of your tunes this weekend in remembrance.

An ode to Serena Williams

My favorite athlete of all time

12:15 PMSerena Williams is my favorite athlete of all time. It took me a good decade to come to say this out loud. Not because I had a problem with admitting that, when it came to watching sports, my machismo wouldn’t let me say I preferred to watch a woman, but because for so long Williams has been appreciated by men, particularly black men for nearly everything except for one: her tennis game.

When she first emerged on the scene, all the narratives were wrapped up in her being Venus Williams’ little sister. They were doing it for the culture, and everyone appreciated it. She was part of this “Black Girl Magic” duo that seemingly could not be accepted or understood in the tennis world and that sense of rebellion was a major draw for many black people who still viewed tennis as something for retired people to do in country clubs. But don’t forget, almost immediately, she took those braids to the top.

In the 1999 U.S. Open, she beat four players who’d won Grand Slam tournaments before, knocking off No. 1-ranked Martina Hingis to win the title. Hingis wasn’t ready. (Sidebar: Serena and Venus won doubles at Flushing Meadow that year, too.) As far as tennis is concerned, she never looked back. It took her less than five years to complete what’s now known as the “Serena Slam,” holding all four Grand Slam titles at once, even if not winning them all in the same calendar year.

But when we think about comparisons to the great athletes of our generation, perhaps because she’s black, perhaps because she’s a woman, or perhaps because so many men are blinded by her style, her body or her dance moves, we fail to recognize her on-court ability. We still don’t appreciate Serena Williams the athlete enough.

In a strange way, losing in the last two U.S. Open semifinals has helped us recognize what we had. The fact is that her personality itself might have “Made Tennis Great Again,” but more importantly, her skills made tennis great again. It took a long time for broadcasters and analysts to describe her approach as anything other than power and intimidation because that’s the instant thing they saw when a strong black woman entered the arena. She single-handedly created and destroyed the career of Maria Sharapova because we as a culture are so obsessed with Great White Hopes once black people start dominating sports, never mind the so-called “ideals” of beauty discussion.

Again, the tennis was forgotten. If you’re counting, she’s more dominant that Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan, combined.

“There have been examples in other sports of spectators being aware that they were watching a one-of-a-kind talent and ought to cherish the opportunity,” Tom Victor wrote for Joe.co.uk. “Usain Bolt is one such example, as is Michael Phelps where the aura and legend bubble to the top before others catch up with the talent, to the point that they are spoken of in the past and present tenses simultaneously. You have to force yourself to enjoy and appreciate something in the knowledge that there will undoubtedly come a time in which you’ll get to tell your children and grandchildren ‘I was there.’ ”

But as far as the proverbial barbershop convo goes, Williams’ name isn’t coming up much. Maybe her position as a feminist icon scares dudes away from having a real discussion about her court control and mental prowess. Yet, seeing Williams now, even the casual fans notice they’ve witnessed something great for longer than they probably wanted to realize.

“My mind was just a little bit everywhere, but it was what it was. Yeah, serious left knee problems. But fatigue had nothing to do with it. If I was tired, I need to find a new career,” Williams said after her U.S. Open loss to Karolina Pliskova on Thursday, who’d beaten Venus earlier in the same tournament.

She hasn’t hung up her racket yet and is still the No. 2 player in the world. Nobody wants to put an early end to her illustrious run, and she likely still has a couple Grand Slam wins left in her. But now that she seems, well, mortal, your mind does begin to wander off the court.

We’ll be watching Williams do quite a few things for a long time coming, as she is a woman who is successful at everything she does. Fashion, entertainment, philanthropy, literature, politics, who knows. But I, for one, will miss watching her play tennis, the most.