Most Americans have a hard time believing that professional athletes have a similar thought process when providing for their families.
Many sports fans, and casual observers, can’t relate to their lifestyle due to the amount of money most of them make.
Apparently, Eagles coach Chip Kelly is one of them.
Eagles’ cornerback Brandon Boykin was recently traded to the Steelers, one of many Eagles players jettisoned by Kelly since he took over for Andy Reid two seasons ago. To many, the trades of LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Boykin demonstrate a disturbing pattern. Boykin intimated as much in a text message to CSNPhilly.com Sunday morning:
"He can't relate and that makes him uncomfortable. He likes total control of everything, and he don't like to be uncomfortable. Players excel when you let them naturally be who they are, and in my experience that hasn't been important to him.”
Boykin went on to say, “When you're a player, you want to be able to relate to your coach off the field," Boykin told reporters at St. Vincent College, the site of the Steelers’ training camp. "There were times he just didn't talk to people. You would walk down the hallway, he wouldn't say anything to you. I'm not saying he's a racist in any way."
(Photo credit: USA Today Sports Images)
To Kelly’s credit, he responded to Boykin’s comments.
“I don’t know. In talking to him last night I think he was stunned, he was disappointed. He really liked it here,” Kelly told Pro Football Talk. “When he left here last night he shook my hand and gave me a hug, didn’t say anything,” he said. “I like Brandon. I just don’t know. I really don’t know.”
Another Eagle, Malcolm Jenkins, downplayed the accusations:
“I think he wants a team that’s full of guys that are going to buy in. Uniformity is a big thing, and I think where it comes from is not that he doesn’t understand the culture, but one person isn’t bigger than the team, and it’s something that I don’t think anybody has a problem buying into. And everybody here wants to be here.
To be fair, Kelly received players in those trades and has drafted players who are black. For some, it’s that simple. However, on the outside looking in, the claims made by former Eagles’ players might sound like race-baiting B.S. But Boykin’s statement, has got the “spidey senses” tingling of many:
How many brothers are gonna suggest these things about Chip Kelly before we at least consider the possibility he has a perception issue... ?— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) August 2, 2015
Been texting with a few veteran players tonight about Chip Kelly. A lot of raised eyebrows.— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) August 2, 2015
The questions Boykin raised about culture often come from a place that many find to be polarizing. Talking about racism makes people uncomfortable. In most cases, people have a hard time understanding why certain folks look at stuff like this through one lens. For example, the most stunning information in a feature written by The New Yorker about former Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson for their upcoming Aug 10th issue breathes life into those claims. Wilson made references to culture when he first joined the Ferguson Police Department, and his life after shooting Michael Brown.
“I’d never been in an area where there was that much poverty,” Wilson told the New Yorker. He admitted that he felt intimidated and unprepared when first dealing with the citizens in the areas he patrolled. “They’re so wrapped up in a different culture than— what I’m trying to say is, the right culture, the better one to pick from.”
These days he appears to avoid that “culture” as much as possible.
“We try to go somewhere—how do I say this correctly?—with like-minded individuals,” he said. “You know. Where it’s not a mixing pot.”
It appears that people like Wilson and Kelly struggle with what to make of cultural differences. Remember when the NBA instituted a dress code after they saw many of the league’s stars with tattoos, baggy clothes and cornrows. Before that, the “thug” label was put on Michigan’s Fab Five due to their baldheads, baggy shorts and black shoes. Also, don’t forget when the Hawks’ former owner had questions about the fan demographic at home games. I wonder if Danny Ferry still thinks that Luol Deng had too much “African” in him, especially after playing in the NBA game in Africa this past weekend.
I’m not saying that Kelly is a racist man. By all accounts, he’s not. However, this was the same guy who traded DeSean Jackson for having alleged gang ties while keeping Riley Cooper after footage surfaced of him using a racial slur. Also, the stance that says Kelly isn’t racist because most NFL players are black isn’t shut down it used to be. After all, former Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling dated a biracial woman, had black players on his team, employed black executives along with having black people in the housing units he ran. However, none of that stopped him from having certain thoughts about black people.
At this point in time, all we can do is speculate since there’s more questions than answers. Until someone speaks up, that’s all we got.
After watching ESPN’s 30 for 30 episode “Broke," seeing HBO’s show “Ballers” every week and reading “The Players’ Tribune,” it seems that many sports fans continue to have a hard time understanding the culture many of these athletes are products of.
Remember when Biggie once said, “ Mo’ Money, Mo’ problems?”
Well it appears that Chip Kelly wants to get rid those problems, and like Biggie said “Jealousy and envy is something that just comes with the territory, man.”
Now we have to figure out what Chip Kelly's territory really is.