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

Jordan Greenway set to become the first African-American to play for Team USA Hockey at Olympic Games

Boston University standout is one of four collegiate players on the team

1:31 PMJordan Greenway, a forward for Boston University and a 2015 second-round draft pick of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, will be the first African-American to represent Team USA in hockey at the Winter Olympics.

Greenway made the cut this week as the U.S. announced its men’s and women’s rosters for next month’s Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The 20-year-old is one of four collegiate players who will represent the country.

Out of 1,690 men’s Division I college hockey players, only 13 have identified themselves as black.

John Kavouris/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“Even starting in 1960 when we had the amateurs playing in the Olympics and we were able to get the gold medal there, and then most recently in 1980, just being able to build on that legacy is an unbelievable feeling for me, and I’m happy I’m able to get this opportunity now,” Greenway told the Sporting News. “I’ve been able to accomplish a lot of good things and just allowing a lot of African-American kids who are younger than me who see kind of what I’m doing, I hope that can be an inspiration for them.

“Go out and do something different against the typical stereotypes that most African-Americans play basketball, or whatever the case is.”

Greenway’s selection was propelled by a stellar performance in the 2017 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship in Canada. Greenway had three goals and five assists in seven games for the gold medal-winning U.S. team. The 6-foot-5, 235-pound junior from Canton, New York, has amassed seven goals and 10 assists in 19 games with Boston University this season.

Years of self-determination led to this moment for Greenway. When he was 12, he went to his mother about going to a hockey prep school and getting out of Canton. She told him to research the top five programs and fill out the applications. As a family they would visit the schools, but Greenway’s mother told him he needed to take the lead on the process.

The deal she struck with Jordan and his brother, James, was that if she paid for prep school, they’d have to earn scholarships for college.

Jordan Greenway was teammates with Auston Matthews, Noah Hanifin, Zach Werenski, Matthew Tkachuk and Clayton Keller on the United States National Development Team Program in Ann Arbor, Michigan, after playing three years at Shattuck St-Mary’s School in Faribault, Minnesota, the top prep hockey program in the country.

Yelena RuskoTASS via Getty Images

James Greenway, who also went to Shattuck St-Mary’s, is a sophomore on the Wisconsin men’s hockey team and a 2016 third-round draft pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“There’s like one Walmart, and that’s where you get your food or whatever the hell you need for your house,” Jordan Greenway said of his hometown, where only 4.7 percent of the population is black. “It’s cold as hell. There’s a lot of farmland, so a lot of people hunt, and everyone plays hockey. That’s how I got into it.”

For the first time in 30 years, the NHL won’t send any of its players to the Olympics, so the U.S. roster is mainly composed of overseas, minor league and retired talent.

Hue Jackson is spared, Jim Caldwell is not, now Jackson needs to win some games

Browns plan to bring back coach after 0-16 mark; Lions fire coach after winning season

9:09 AMOne has to look hard to find anything positive in the winless Cleveland Browns’ season, which mercifully ended Sunday after a 28-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Cleveland joined the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only NFL teams to finish 0-16.

The Browns were a complete mess from start to finish. Former general manager Sashi Brown, who was fired Dec. 7, paid the price for this season’s ineptitude. But front-office makeovers are nothing new for this franchise.

What is surprising, however, is that the Browns don’t plan to make a coaching change. Head coach Hue Jackson, who’s African-American, will return next season, the team says. During two seasons with the Browns, Jackson is 1-31. His only victory came in Week 16 last season against the then-San Diego Chargers.

Compare that to the Detroit Lions, who on Monday fired Jim Caldwell, who is also African-American. Caldwell was let go despite posting a winning record in three of his four seasons with the Lions. Detroit made the playoffs twice under Caldwell, going 0-2, and missed the postseason this year at 9-7.

Considering the dearth of head coaches of color in the league – the number fell to seven with Caldwell’s firing – it’s good that the Browns appear to be giving Jackson every opportunity to prove he’s the right man for the job. And Jackson still has a lot to prove.

Sure, the Browns’ player personnel department has made some colossal errors. Remember: Cleveland passed on star quarterback Carson Wentz. Still, it’s hard to go winless during a 16-game schedule, as evidenced by the fact it has only happened twice.

It’s fair to say that Jackson needs to show a whole lot next season. He has to win some games.

Gettleman hiring keeps diversity numbers for NFL general managers the same

Give the Giants credit for interviewing two black candidates

8:07 AMOn Thursday, the New York Giants announced the hiring of Dave Gettleman as the team’s new general manager.

Gettleman, who was fired from the same position with the Carolina Panthers in July, replaces Jerry Reese, who was relieved of his duties along with Giants head coach Ben McAdoo on Dec. 4.

The hiring keeps the number of black general managers in the 32-team league at four — Rick Smith (Houston Texans), Ozzie Newsome (Baltimore Ravens), Reggie McKenzie (Oakland Raiders) and Chris Grier (Miami Dolphins) — after the Cleveland Browns fired Sashi Brown on Dec. 7.

Although the Giants didn’t end up replacing Reese, who is African-American, with another black GM, they did take the league’s diversity hiring initiative, the Rooney Rule, more seriously than most other front offices have. The rule requires teams to interview at least one candidate of color for every head-coaching or senior football operations position, although some teams hold what are essentially “token” interviews with black or brown candidates to check off a box.

The Giants, on the other hand, interviewed two black men for the position: Marc Ross, the team’s current vice president of player evaluation, and Louis Riddick, an ESPN analyst and former player, pro scout and director of pro personnel.

Kevin Abrams, the Giants’ interim general manager, also interviewed. Gettleman returns to the Giants after having spent 15 seasons with the team, mostly as director of pro personnel. In Gettleman’s four-year tenure with the Panthers, the team made the playoffs three seasons in a row from 2013-15, including a 15-1 record and Super Bowl appearance in 2015. He was not a favorite of some of the franchise’s best players.

Wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., running back DeAngelo Williams and cornerback Josh Norman sent parting shots at Gettleman when the Panthers announced his firing.

Recy Taylor, subject of new documentary about the rape of black women during Jim Crow, has died

97-year-old was at a nursing home in the same Alabama town where she had been attacked

2:10 PMRecy Taylor, the subject of the new documentary The Rape of Recy Taylor, died Thursday morning at a nursing home in Abbeville, Alabama. She was 97.

Her brother Robert Lee Corbitt, 81, confirmed her death.

‘The Rape of Recy Taylor’ explores the little-known terror campaign against black women

Taylor was one of countless black women who were raped by white men during Jim Crow. In 1944, when she was walking home from church one evening, she was kidnapped, blindfolded and assaulted by six white men. Rosa Parks, working as a local NAACP official, came to Abbeville to agitate for the prosecution of Taylor’s attackers. None of them was ever indicted.

In addition to being the subject of the Nancy Buirski documentary, which debuted this year at the New York Film Festival, Taylor was a central figure in a book by historian Danielle McGuire, At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance — A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power. McGuire’s book traces how anti-rape activism in the South helped fuel the civil rights movement.

After the attack, Taylor spent most of her adult years in Winter Haven, Florida. Her family moved her back to Abbeville when she was 93 because she began to suffer from dementia.

“She was a Christian all of her life,” Corbitt said by phone Thursday afternoon. “She kept us in church all that time. I live about 500 feet from the church where she was going that night, and I’m also a deacon of that church.”

The church, which in 1944 was called Abbeville Holiness Church, is now called Abbeville Memorial Church of God in Christ.

Taylor raised Corbitt and five other brothers and sisters after their mother died when Corbitt was an infant. She is survived by Corbitt and her two remaining sisters, Mary Murry, 90, and Lillie Kinsey, 94, one granddaughter and several great-grandchildren. Her only daughter, Joyce Lee Taylor, died in a car crash in 1967.

Taylor, Corbitt said, “had a very good life,” but she never recovered emotionally from the attack that took place when she was just 24 years old.

After he retired from working as a building maintenance official in New York, Corbitt said he moved back to Alabama to research what happened to his sister and attempt to obtain some measure of justice for her. Corbitt is one of the primary sources for Buirski’s film. Though she was alive during its filming, Taylor only appears near the end, when Corbitt, whom she called “Baby,” went to visit her in her nursing home.

“She would only talk to me,” Corbitt said. “That’s why I dug at it so hard. After I retired, I devoted myself to getting something done about it. We did get an apology from the state of Alabama.”