tom jones' two cents
It's a word so offensive and controversial that most of us don't even say it or write it in full.
Instead, we call it the "n-word.''
In recent weeks, use of that word has again made its way into sports news.
Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito, who is white, referred to teammate Jonathan Martin as a "half" n-word. NBA player Matt Barnes (above), who is black, used the word on Twitter. Redskins offensive tackle Trent Williams, who is black, has denied accusations he directed the n-word at an official during a game.
Now the Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation, a group that promotes diversity and job equality in the NFL, is asking players to stop using the word in all circumstances. The alliance is run by Harry Carson and John Wooten, two former players who are black. The group says use of the n-word is too common around the NFL.
TNT broadcaster and former NBA star Charles Barkley, who is black, said he uses the n-word and will continue to do so.
"White America doesn't get to dictate how me and Shaq (O'Neal) talk to each other,'' Barkley said. "And they've been trying to infiltrate themselves (by) saying 'Well, you guys use it, it's in rap music' — no, no, no, that's not the same."
I will not say Barkley is wrong. I don't believe I can. As a middle-aged white male, far be it for me to tell others, particularly black people, the rules for using the n-word.
I've always been taught that it is a word born from hatred and bigotry, and for that reason, I personally don't use it. Frankly, because I am not black, I'm not sure I can even fully fathom the impact of that word.
HBO's Real Sports host, Bryant Gumbel, who is black, closed the most recent episode of the show with this commentary:
"Truth No. 1: No matter what color you are, no one can give you a pass to say the word. Not once, not ever. Passes don't exist, and you shouldn't even want one.
"Truth No. 2: Be smart! Using the n-word says a lot about you, and none of it is good. It just advertises your ignorance.
"Truth No. 3: Pronouncing it with an 'a' after the double 'g' in the word because you're with your boys makes you no more 'with it' than the clown who pronounces it with the '-er.'
"Truth No. 4: Being young is not an excuse. The word's use as a weapon to define, demean and destroy millions of people should never be forgotten. If you need help remembering, check out the new film 12 Years a Slave, and you will never view the n-word the same way again.
"Lastly, stop believing in fairy tales. That old kids line 'Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you?' Not true."
Words can hurt? That's probably the only thing we can agree upon.
Calling it right
You know how fans are always complaining about how announcers hate their favorite team? (Trust me, it happens all the time.)
Well, here's an interesting concept. This season's NCAA men's basketball Final Four semifinal games will air on three networks: TNT, TBS and TruTv. TBS will have the No. 1 broadcasting team, Jim Nantz, Steve Kerr and Greg Anthony. The other two networks will carry the games with announcing teams that slant toward one team or the other.
Example: Let's say Duke plays Kentucky in a semifinal game. TBS would have the national broadcasters. TNT would have announcers with Duke ties calling the game from a Duke perspective, and TruTV would have a team with a Kentucky perspective.
Turner Sports won't decide the "home team'' broadcasters until it knows which teams are playing.
The national championship game will air on CBS only, with Nantz, Kerr and Anthony calling the action.
Saying so long
CBS NFL analyst Dan Dierdorf is retiring after the season.
Bet you didn't know he is the longest-tenured NFL broadcaster at the moment, with 30 years behind the microphone. His list of partners includes Ray Scott, Lindsey Nelson, Jack Buck, Dick Stockton, Al Michaels, Frank Gifford, Verne Lundquist, Dick Enberg and, currently, Greg Gumbel.
Dierdorf spent 13 seasons as one of the NFL's top offensive linemen for the St. Louis Cardinals and is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a player and a broadcaster.
He was at his peak when he worked on Monday Night Football from 1987-98, but he still is among the best in the business today. He's only 64, so why is he leaving? Mostly because of the travel.
Dierdorf has two artificial hips and two artificial knees, and needs a cane to walk. Dierdorf said that has made it too difficult to get around when he is required to fly every week.
Dierdorf still lives in St. Louis and hasn't ruled out doing some broadcasting if he can stay near home.
• No surprise here: NBC has named Bob Costas (above) to serve as prime-time and late-night host of the network's 2014 Olympics coverage in February. Costas has done every Olympics NBC has carried since 1992.
• Play-by-play announcer Thom Brennaman and analyst Brian Billick are scheduled to call today's Bucs-Lions game on Fox.
• This morning's Outside the Lines (8 on ESPN2 and 9 on ESPNews) looks back on the life of Hector "Macho" Camacho, one year after the boxer was shot to death in his native Puerto Rico.
Three things that popped into my head
1. Peyton Manning's Broncos take on Tom Brady's Patriots today, and it brings up the topic of which QB is better. Until Manning wins at least one more Super Bowl, this isn't even a debate, is it?
2. The much-too-long schedule zaps interest from NASCAR, but it really is incredible what Jimmie Johnson has done, winning six championships in 12 years. Hmm, athlete of the year?
3. Question for Alex Rodriguez (below): What will it take exactly for you to just go away?