Talk to Me, Don’t Text Me

Posted: November 11, 2011 in opinion, Uncategorized

“So you wanna go out?”
“Go outta where?”
“No, silly. LOL, u & me?”
“I know, but what are we goin out of?”
“a date”
“pick one”
“k, tomorrow.”
“ok tomorrow. What’s tomorrow?”
“U jus said, we’ll go on a date tomorrow?”
“What??! I didn’t say that. U didn’t even ask me out!”

This type of conversation is all too familiar in the wonderful world of texting. The age of technology has intruded on the act of getting to know someone. Not only can you find a date without ever leaving your home via the millions of social networking and dating sites (E Harmony, Match.com, Plenty of fish, Myspace, etc), but after you’ve found a date by just sitting at your desk and typing in all the right words, you can have a conversation without ever talking. Sound ridiculous? It is.

Texting has come so far and become so engrained into our daily lives that people no longer use the traditional way of getting to know someone, talking. In a study completed by Rodale.com, they found that 20 percent of people who receive a voicemail message never check it while 91 percent of people who receive a text message check it within the hour. They also found that people are four times more likely to respond to a text than a voicemail.

Texting is for short, immediate responses, not to get to know someone or hold a lengthy conversation. A lot can be said about the tone someone uses or the way they express themselves. An exclamation point does not take the place of genuine excitement or anger in someone’s voice.

If something is misinterpreted in a text, there is no way to properly explain what you really meant, especially with feeling. True expression of feelings is hard to do in 140 characters.

When you text back and forth in one conversation, text messages tend to get lost in Cyperspace, and arrive before another intended text, thus causing you to have to back-track and explain a statement that arrived late. None of this happens in a regular conversation.

Lastly, some of those cute little things that win a person over, like the way someone laughs or the fullness of their sense of humor, can’t be felt through a text message. LOL is simply not a cute way of laughing, neither is LMAO.

Will the real men, the true gladiators, please stand up? If you’re wearing a jersey representing a team from the current NFL, then just remain seated. Pro football, more appropriately known as the NFL, used to be the land of the gritty, the dirty and the grimy. In 2011, with all the adjustments and rule changes the league has made to “protect” its players, its become more of a land for the pretty, the intellectual and the metro-sexual.

This by no means is a shot at the type of players that are presently in the league, this is a look at the current rules that penalize players for simulating those who have paved the way before them. Football players were known to have missing teeth, play with broken fingers and constantly have blood stains on their uniforms. The names that were known to star and stand out in such environments were names like Butkus, Youngblood, Blount, Greenwood, Greer, just to name a few. These names will forever be remembered in football folklore for being the gridiron warriors and gladiators this sport was meant to have.

There are still some players who embody the character and ability to carry out the duties of a gridiron gladiator; names like Lewis, Harrison, Woodson, Revis, Matthews, Ware, Reed and Palomalu, but are hampered by the “new NFL”, which now stands for No Fun League.

It is well understood that today’s athletes are much faster and stronger than the players of the glory years, but they are also much more compensated in salary as well. So it makes sense that the danger in playing professional football higher, theoretically, and the league minimum is also much higher than those past years at $220,000. But is it really more dangerous in 2011 than in 1977?

The gear that is worn is far more advanced than the uniforms worn in the 60s and 70s, as well as all the preventative gear that isn’t even apart of the uniform. But even though you get to wear this new, aerodynamic helmet and maximum protecting pads, it is now illegal to hit a player, “leading with your helmet”. It’s also now illegal to “hit a defenseless player”, like when a receiver is going for a pass. But isn’t a receiver almost always defenseless when he’s going for a pass? So you have to wait until he catches it? You can barely touch the receiver after five yards, so what gives?

The rules that protect the quarterback are even more ridiculous. The quarterback is barely considered a football player anymore, considering what can’t be done to him. I don’t even know why he has to wear a helmet? You’re just as good as suspended if you dare make any contact with it.

On the average, pro football players are more compensated than boxers and MMA fighters, but are far more protected, but the sport is still looked at as the “man’s sport”. Fans cheer for a great tackle, a punishing sack or exciting hit, but if one actually happens, there will undoubtedly be a penalty for it. It would not be surprising if in 20 years, the league has gone to being a professional flag football league. At least that way, they can take out all that gladiator aggression on pulling the flags as hard as they can and throwing them on the ground and stomping on them, but then again, they’d be penalized for excessive flag grabbing and taunting. After they game, they’d be fined $5, 000, the cost of an NFL player’s flag.

The reality television world has bombarded society in such a fashion that if you choose not to watch television, you would have no need to buy cable TV. The Basketball Wives series has provided us with a new meaning of the term “gold-digger”. They have also shown women a new way to become relevant, when they are absolutely irrelevant: form some sort of relationship with a current or former NBA basketball player.

Cast of the original Basketball Wives.

The series, created and executively produced by Shaunie O’Neal (ex-wife of Shaquille O’Neal) has grown to such popularity that women are lined up trying to land a spot on the show. It has gotten so bad that, although most of the cast were never actually married to a basketball player yet they star on a show whose surname is Wives, there are women now applying to be on the show who’s claim to fame is sleeping with, being the mistress of, home wrecking, being the “other women”, and post-game relief to many past and present NBA players. This seems to be total social-irony when these women were known to do all they could to stay in the shadows, not be known by the public for fear of having a scarlet A painted on their blouse and not being the object of revenge by some current wife.

The Basketball Wives series that was based in Miami showed how these women mixed an ounce of class and new found fame (or self proclaimed fame) with a stuck-up behavior that often accompanies people who suddenly come into money. This combustion paved the way for a lot of petty cat-fights that grew into fist fights, often in classy restaurants and clubs. So much for that ounce of class. But just when one would think that these women, who are associated in some way with NBA players (many share children with the players but don’t mention them on the show) could go no lower, the show takes a nose dive underground and gives birth to a new edition: Basketball Wives LA.

The cast of Basketball Wives LA

This new cast, comprised mostly of women who have centered their lives on controversy or drama, makes the Miami edition of the show actually seem pretty good. Usually, a typical season of a reality television show has drama or conflict that builds. We as viewers get to know the cast members in 2-3 shows, then someone in the group has a problem with another cast member, the drama builds, then around show 4, 5 or 6, there is a fight (either physical or verbal, depending on the producers and station the show airs) of some kind. After watching the first installment of Basketball Wives LA, it was clear that the producers looked at the usual model and said, “To hell with that, why wait?” We were introduced to the cast members in about 45 minutes, then boom! Ghetto heaven erupted like no other and it was the Pacers versus the Pistons brawl all over again. Fitting that one of the members is Ron Artest’s wife.

Ron Artest's wife looks to follow her husband's lead.

Introducing the cast members one by one is as irrelevant as they actually are. All you need to know is one of the members is a cast-off from the Miami show and is a fiancé of an NBA player; two of the women are ex-fiances of current NBA players and the mothers of their children (one of those ex-fiances is the sister of the Miami cast-off, which shows that gold-digging runs in the family); as usual there are only two women who are actually married to current NBA players and one woman who is married to a retired player and is known to be as controlling and overbearing as Bobby Knight. Oh yeah, remember those women who are known as the mistresses, home-wreckers, other women and post-game relief? Well, one of them made it to the show as well. Needless to say, this show is as meaningless as going to the movies to watch two hours worth of previews. Actually, even the previews have real actors and show potential for substance. I think I’d rather go to the theater and watch Jersey Shore: The Musical. All I can honestly say about Basketball Wives LA is… “you can take the person out of the ghetto, but…”, well, you know the rest.

In 1848, people from nations around the world flocked to California for what is called the Gold Rush. These people were called “Forty-Niners”, in reference to 1849, the year the rushers really started to pour into California. In 1990, the rap group EPMD made a song about women who go after men strictly for their money. The song, and these women, were called “Gold Diggers.” Kanye West also made a song in 2005 featuring Jamie Fox with the same title and detailing the same type of females.

In 2010, VH1 created a new term and reality show that describes a woman who goes after a man for his monetary possessions. In fact, this new age version of a Gold digger doesn’t just go after the man for his possessions, but she desires and plans how to use his fame and public persona, to enhance her own. These women and the show are called Basketball Wives.

Traditionally, a gold digger would have to marry a man who was a celebrity or sports star. In this new millennium, you don’t have to be married to him, you just need to have dated him or in the case of one of the cast members, be associated with the team. Maybe that’s considered being married to the team, therefore technically making her (Royce Reed, former dancer of the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat, mother of Orlando Magic star Dwight Howard’s son Braylen) an official “basketball wife”.

Royce Reed with she and Dwight Howard's son Braylen

In fact, in the season that has just finalized (season 2), only two of the cast members were actually currently married to an NBA player and one of those is in the process of getting a divorce, which was one of the plot themes of this season. So why are these “basketball wives” relevant and what are they (and the show) doing for pro basketball?

First and foremost, the reality show that survives to run a second season and third season does so for one reason: the show is filled with mindless drama. These women, like most cast members of reality shows, have no ambition or theme to the show besides, “look at me, I used to be involved with a star, now I have is money.” But of course all is not reality.

Many of the women are not in the upper financial bracket as one would think, having been married (supposedly) to an NBA star. Tammi Roman, who is known as being aggressive and the one to “not take any crap”, is the ex-wife of ex-NBA star Kenny Anderson. Anderson was a playground legend in New York before going on to Georgia Tech, then on to play for the New Jersey Nets where he had a multimillion dollar contract. Roman let it be known on season 1 of the show that Anderson left her with no money and she survived the tough years after her marriage living off of welfare. Roman was also a cast member of MTV’s The Real World: LA, where she was best known for having an abortion on TV and having a cast member thrown off the show for attempted rape.

Tammi Roman, ex-wife of ex-NBA Star Kenny Anderson.

Many NBA players are trying to get their ex’s to not appear on the show by taking them to court before they can sign a deal. Gilbert Arenas, another member of the Orlando Magic, recently lost a court junction to stop his former fiance from appearing on the new upcoming season of the show and mentioning his name. With his thousands of Twitter followers, the judge ruled Arenas tweets about various mundane occurrences in his life and his attempt to get his former fiance, Laura Govan, whom he has four children with, was not valid.

Gilbert Arenas pictured here with ex-fiance Laura Govan. Arenas unsuccessfully sued Govan and tried to block her from appearing on season 3 of Basketball Wives.

Is this the new gold-digger? You don’t have to actually marry an NBA player, you just have to have had a public relationship with him. Now you can be on your way to your own riches and not have to have his child and collect child support, although most do. Evelyn Lozado and Suzie Ketchum are also cast members of the original show and neither were married to NBA players. Lozado was engaged to former star Antoine Walker and is now engaged to current New England Patriot receiver Chad Ochocinco. Ketchum is the ex-girlfriend of former NBA player Michael Olowakani and has two children with him.

The new installment of the show, Basketball Wives LA, premieres in August and features two current wives of basketball players, an ex-wife, two ex fiances and a model / actress who is the former girlfriend of Chris Brown but has been linked to several NBA players. HuH? Now you just have to be linked to someone?

I give this advice to NBA players when you meet someone from now on. Not only should you get a prenuptial agreement before you get married, but you should have your lawyer draw up and “pre-mentioning” and “pre-capitalizaion” document before you go on a first date. That way, before she breaks up or leaves you, you don’t have to be in court fighting for someone to bad mouth you and try to destroy your name, just because your relationship, or lack thereof, didn’t work out. When you get a whiff of someone who seems to have an ear to the floor listening out for the next installment of Basketball Wives or some related show, do what your coach yells at you to do when the other team gets a rebound: RUN!

The Michael Vick Experiment Continues.


The comeback of the decade has yet to take another hit. The ongoing, “Michael Vick Project-Experiment” has hit a snag in the midst of its meteoric climb. It is now well known that Michael Vick spent 18 months, or 544 days, a number that Vick spits out off the top of his head, in prison for running a dog-fighting business and killing dogs that were no longer in good fighting condition.

After serving his sentence, he was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles as their third string quarterback behind aging all-pro quarterback Donovan McNabb and projected future starter Kevin Kolb. McNabb was soon traded to the Redskins, and Kolb suffered an injury that allowed the path for the experiment to come to fruition. It did last year with great success, culminating with the Eagles winning the division and sending them to the playoffs. The season was highlighted by a furious comeback game against the Giants on Monday Night Football.

Vick has had a team of PR professionals that have paved the way for his social rehabilitation and financial return to glory. He has since gained endorsements, the biggest coming from Nike, who never actually lost contact with him even while in prison. He has worked furiously with the Humane Society, PETA and even appeared on Capitol Hill in support of a dog-fighting bill.

But now, the swagger of what was Michael Vick before the imprisonment seems to be back. He has learned to use more of his talents now that he is in a system that exploits all of them. His latest hit comes from an interview with GQ magazine about his current status in the league, his comeback as a whole and how Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, played a role in his coming to the Eagles.

In his interview, Vick comments on dogfighting and its role in impoverished urban areas, “Yeah, you got the family dog and the white picket fence, and you just think that’s all there is. Some of us had to grow up in poverty-stricken urban neighborhoods, and we just had to adapt to our environment. I know that it’s wrong. But people act like it’s some crazy thing they never heard of. They don’t know.”


He was also asked if white people just don’t understand some aspects of the black community and said “I’d say that’s accurate.”

As you can imagine, the media and dog lovers (or Vick haters) have come out in droves and spoken against his comments saying they are insensitive and they show that he has not truly rehabilitated. But is that true or is he misunderstood? In fact, isn’t it true that dog fighting, just like drive-by shootings, are a part of these neighborhoods? They aren’t the part of the community that people like to highlight, but it is prevalent.

There are many successful African Americans who have been raised in the same type of communities and never done things as heinous as Vick did. This too is very true. The hope is that everyone who is first educated by the norms of the community, whether it be drug dealing, gang fighting, pimping women, car-jacking or dog fighting, learn that these are negative aspects of the community and are not to be glorified. The reality is many of them are never taught that, and by the time they are adults, it is ingrained in their brain as simply a way of life.
Vick had the unique experience of getting out of the neighborhood by going to college and learning about other ways of life and new norms of wrong and right. He is one of the few that get that opportunity but chose to not actually leave that setting, but bring that home culture with him. So he actually never learned the difference. He simply found a way to maximize that way of life.

This fact by no means excuses him for his actions. It just seems that people who have learned the difference between which norms of society are good or bad at an early age and learned to live by them have a hard time seeing the world from the Vick experiment’s point of view. The part of his answer that also bothers people is where he called his dogs his companions. Again, this is a misunderstood point. I equate it to the value system of a pimp or gang leader. The women the pimp puts on the street are objects of earning money. The women in his life, like his mother or daughter, are people he cherishes. Therefore, he is unlearned in treating all women like he does his mother or daughter.

The same goes for a gang leader. His fellow gang members, or street soldiers, are merely workers or tools of survival. His own son or father are people he cherishes, and again, he is unlearned in being able to differentiate. Vick had the same outlook on dogs. He had his house dogs who his family loved and he wouldn’t harm in any way. Then there were the pit-bulls that were trained soldiers, a means to an end.

This fact by no means validates his actions, but hopefully sheds some light on how he may view things. I equate Vick’s learning process to a young teenager. He is just now beginning to realize the damage it caused. My advice is that if all those PR people want to really help Vick, stop him from commenting on this subject for now and educate him more in the value system of people outside of the poverty stricken urban areas. Then maybe he can begin to look at the world from someone else’s eyes.


First the lockout threatened to come. Then it came and has taken the football world by storm. But alas, the storm has all but passed and the 2011-12 season is fast approaching with many, including NFL players and owners alike, feeling like the season will start on time. As opening day begins to stick his head from out of the shadows, its time for the predictions to take the forefront. It’s time to be bold. It’s time to be daring. It’s time to be a real fan and step out on a limb and predict your team’s fate, of course with valid reasoning to back it up. Here are fifteen bold predictions for the 2011-2012 season for the Dallas Cowboys. These aren’t just wishes, these predictions will come true.


#1: The Cowboys Will Win the NFC East Division
Last season the Dallas Cowboys finished third in the NFC (Beast) East Division. That was mainly due to the slow start of the season (1-7), the midseason coaching change and the season ending injury to quarterback Tony Romo. After Jason Garrett took over head-coaching duties, the team began to legitimately compete finishing the season with a 6-2 record and splitting the season series with all teams in the division. In the season’s finale against the division winner Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys looked impressive as they pulled out a 14-13 win in a game the Eagles needed to win as they were still contending for playoff position and home field advantage.


#2: Tony Romo will End the Season as a Top Three QB in TD’s
Now that Tony Romo is 100% healthy, and all of his weapons are at his disposal, he will return to the form of the 2009 season where he threw 26 touchdowns and more than 4400 yards. Jason Garrett, the newly established head coach, has more weapons than he did in 2009 to create an offense with, and with the addition of third round draft pick DeMarco Murray, their will be too much speed on the field for defenses to contend with. That will alleviate the rebuilding of the offensive line and allow Romo to get the ball out of his hands faster, thus giving more touchdowns to big player receivers like Dez Bryant and Miles Austin.


#3: The Dallas Cowboy Offense will be in the Top Three in Total Offense in 2011-2012
Last year wasn’t as dismal as it seems. Although the injuries and coaching change took a huge toll on the outcome of the season, the offense didn’t perform as badly as expected. The offense ended the year ranked 7th in total offense and 7th in points scored. Now that Tony Romo, the entire arsenal and the coaching staff are all in tact, the offense will finally look to reach the potential that looms large when written on paper. Now the names on the stat sheet will finally produce yards and points on the scoreboard.


#4: The Cowboys will Hit it Big in Free Agency and Land Nnamdi Asomugha
Is this wishful thinking? Not really. There is no secret that the Cowboys are in dire need of an all-pro caliber defensive back. The Dallas defense was the biggest disappointment last year, even with the slow start to the season and Romo’s injury. After Jason Garret took over, the Cowboys turned their competitive nature around and put themselves in the hunt to actually win the NFC East. The Defense just couldn’t keep opposing offenses off the field and gave up entirely too many big plays in the secondary. The Cowboys will have the cap room to go after the best defensive back available, and probably the second best cover-corner in the league behind the Jets Darrelle Revis.


#5: Nnamdi Asomugha will Help the Dallas Defense end the Season ranked in the Top Three
Sometimes, the difference between being decent and great is one missing piece. That piece is Nnamdi Asomugha. Adding him to the dominance of DeMarcus Ware and defensive prowess of Terrence Newman and Gerald Sensabaugh, who both had five interceptions in 2010, will give the Dallas Cowboys the total package. The youth and speed at the linebacker position, added to the veteran knowledge and leadership of Keith Brooking, will make it very tough for opposing offenses to plan against. Asomugha will complete the dynamic secondary and will give Dallas the flexibility, along with young Mike Jenkins, who made large strides in 2010, to confuse the best QB’s in the league.


#6: DeMarcus Ware will Lead the NFL in Sacks: AGAIN
Now that we’ve established how the Cowboy defense will be much improved and balanced with speed all over the field, it will be harder for teams to key on DeMarcus Ware. Last season when Ware was the key piece to the defense to key on, he still lead the league with 15 1/2 sacks. He lead the NFL in 2008 with 20 and was in the top 10 in 2007 with 14. Although the Dallas defense will be very much improved in all other areas besides the pass rush, DeMarcus Ware will be the sole ingredient that makes the Cowboy defense frightful for opposing quarterbacks and offensive coordinators.


Using the formula of comparing players of the same position, added to a player’s individual impact on basketball during his playing years, how long the player dominated in the league, his individual accomplishments, his team’s accomplishments and his role on the team during those accomplishments, the list of greatest centers of all-time has been created. The last thing to consider when determining if someone is one of the greatest is to accurately predict and justify why that player would have the same success if he played in a different era. Being the greatest of all-time is a literal list, not a list of favorites and popular names. Now that the criteria have been established, let’s examine the list of the four greatest centers of all-time.

Saving the best for last, the list begins with the largest center to dominate the game. In fact, this guy was the largest physically and in terms of personality and character, there is no one known and loved more for his non-basketball attributes than Shaquille O’Neal. In 1992, Shaq was the first pick of the draft and immediately put his stamp on the league by winning in a landslide vote the Rookie of the Year award and was the first rookie since Michael Jordan to be voted as an all-star starter.

He came with a force unseen by the league since the days of Wilt Chamberlain, weighing in at 325lbs and standing 7’1” tall. Shaq also had the agility of a small forward, shown in his quick baseline spin moves and one hand alley oops in traffic.

The force he brought on his dunks surpassed that of the great power-dunker Daryl Dawkins. Not only did Shaq shatter a few backboards like Dawkins, he brought down the entire basketball stanchion even though they were constructed to endure dunks with the force that dunkers like O’Neal and Dawkins brought to the game.

Shaquille O’Neal was an immediate leader on his team and in his third season, after being voted to his third consecutive all-star team, he lead the Orlando Magic to their first playoff series win. The winning didn’t stop there as they made it all the way to the finals only to lose to fellow Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler’s Houston Rockets.

In his fifth season, as a free agent, he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers. He and a young budding star named Kobe Bryant, along with a host of seasoned veterans who were coached by Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson, formed a dynasty and went on to win three consecutive titles from 2000-2003. Although they made it to the finals for a fourth straight year in 2004 after adding all star veterans Karl Malone and Gary Payton, they were defeated by the Pistons in five games. Shaq was heavily criticized for his lack of dominance in that series and because of his on going feud with Bryant, he was traded to Miami the following season.

In Miami, Shaq bonded with Heat rising star Dwayne Wade. The two, along with seasoned veterans Gary Payton, Alonzo Morning and Eddie Jones, surpassed expectations and won the championship defeating the Dirk Nowitzki lead Mavericks in six games. This was the only one of Shaq’s championships where he wasn’t voted the Finals MVP.

In his 19 years in the NBA, O’Neal was one league MVP (2000), was an NBA champion four times (2000, 2001, 2002, 2006), was the Finals MVP three times and was an all-star 15 times. He was voted eight times to the NBA first team, twice to the second team, and four more times to the third team. Twice in his career he was the NBA scoring champion and three times he was voted to the all-NBA defensive second team. In his 15 all-star appearances, he was the MVP of the game three times. Outside the NBA, he was voted the FIBA Word Championship MVP, starred in many movies and even made four rap albums. O’Neal is the only basketball player in history to have an album go platinum.

Shaquille O’Neal’s size, strength and agility not only allowed him to dominate the NBA for nearly two decades, but he would’ve dominated in the same fashion, if not more, in any decade of the NBA. That is why Shaquille O’Neal is undoubtedly the fourth greatest center of all-time.