Sunday, May 9, 2010

Rick Reilly Chooses His Examples Poorly

Now, I don't support Jeff Ireland asking Dez Bryant if his mother's a prostitute. By no means do I think that's an acceptable thing to ask. I'm trying to think of a context where that question would be acceptable. Maybe if right before Ireland asked it, Bryant had said, "...and just last night my mother had sex for money like she very often does." But even in that circumstance it would probably be over the line to ask a question like that. And the question is certainly not acceptable, in my opinion, in the interest of "gathering character information to protect his investment" as Ireland claimed his query was.

THAT SAID, if you were going to take the guy to task for this, as Rick Reilly attempts to do in his ESPN column, you might want to choose your counterpoints a little more carefully than the Million Dollar Man does. Let's check it out!

Let's play a game. I'll describe a childhood, and you figure out who had it.

Person No. 1 -- Raised in his grandmother's brothel, the son of a prostitute, he was raped by a neighbor at 6 and molested by a Catholic priest during catechism.

Person No. 2 -- Considered useless and distant, teachers wrote of him, as noted in Catherine Hurley's "Could do Better": "Certainly on the road to failure … hopeless … rather a clown in class … wasting other pupils' time."

Person No. 3 -- Raised in the brothel run by his aunt, he was once sent home from school for "insufficient clothes" and was arrested at 15 for breaking into cars.

Give up?

1. Richard Pryor.
2. John Lennon.
3. James Brown.
Arguably the greatest comedian, songwriter and soul singer of the 20th century, respectively.

The question isn't: "Why did Miami Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland ask Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant if his mom was a prostitute?" The question is: "Why should it matter?"

You're not drafting the mom, you're drafting the son!

Well, like I said, I agree with Reilly's general point but let's look at his counterexamples--all great "artists" (depending on how willing you are to call a joke-teller an artist) to be sure, but perhaps poor examples of people suited to the level of discipline required to be an NFL superstar. Let's take a photojournalistic look at Reilly's examples.

1. Richard Pryor

2. John Lennon

3. James Brown


Tonus said...

Tell you the truth, looks like Brown's wife got the better of that exchange.

Anonymous said...

I really like the little blurb accompanying the link on ESPN's front page: "Sizing someone up based on his parents is a good way to get burned."

No, Rick, spilling rum on yourself, and then freebasing cocaine is a good way to get burned.

Anonymous said...

Rick Reilly is ESPN's version of JaMarcus Russell.

Larry B said...

I mean, I like this post. Chris's points are well-made. And before I say what I'm going to say, let me agree that Ireland was embarrassingly out of line. No team should ever ask any potential draftee that question or any similar question. Etc., etc., etc. But I can't say with certainty that teams shouldn't WANT to acquire that kind of information about a player before drafting them. In addition to Chris's point, here's what's wrong with this article: Wow, Rick. You found three examples of children who grew up around prostitution and went on to lead productive lives. What about the number of kids who grew up around prostitution and... went on to be completely useless assholes when they grew up? Probably >>>>> 3. (Not that these are the only three success stories. But I'm just saying is all. It's probably not good for their professional development if a kid grows up around that stuff.)

Chris W said...

Here's the thing about your post Larry--

By the time a guy makes it out of the "ghetto" and completes--without being expelled--three years of college he's probably made it beyond the "my mom is a prostitute and thus I'm a failure" spectrum. He's more in the "If I'm a failure it's because I'm an asshole who happens to have a prostitute mom" spectrum.

That said, Rick finding three musician/comedians is a pretty piss poor example of a writer not being a retard. That is...Rick went full retard.

Monty Ashley said...

Why is John Lennon even on that list? His childhood didn't have anything to do with prostitutes.