Thursday, May 06, 2010

Is Your Mother a Prostitute?

No this isn't the latest Cosmo test. It was actually a question posed to potential NFL first round draft pick Dez Bryant by the Miami Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland in a pre-draft interview. After Bryant reported the question, public outcry reached incredibly high levels. Ireland has since apologized to Bryant but his query still may end up costing him his job. Question is, was Ireland in the wrong to ask this admittedly very insensitive question?

From Ireland's perspective:
Now this is obviously an insulting question and probably was even intended to be so. General Managers are under intense pressure to draft young men who will perform well on and off the field. This potential draft pick has a history of off-field issues. The NFL punishes players and teams for morality issues even if no criminal charges get filed. Ireland must be able to accurately assess the risk that Bryant is going to get in trouble down the road. As the Dolphins enter a window of playoff contention they can't afford to squander their first round pick. It's important to know how Bryant responds to adversity and unpleasant situations. Also, for the record there's a pretty good chance she is a prostitute.

Let's get one thing clear. This is not your standard job interview. This is the NFL draft, wherein players submit to all sorts of physical and psychological pokes, prods, tests, and measurements. Why? Because the 32 people drafted in the first round this year will be given somewhere between $6 Million and $42 Million guaranteed. Standard job interview rules don't apply.

From Bryant's perspective:
Bryant is in an impossible situation here. If he calmly fields this incredibly offensive question he may be labeled as soft, or a pansy--a kiss of death in the human meat-grinder of an industry that is the NFL. If he tells this @$$hat where to shove it he may fall out the first round for "having issues", thereby losing his big payday and his ability to immediately get his mom (prostitute or not) off the streets where she was selling cocaine last year to survive.

Furthermore, this question is simply irrelevant to determining Bryant's potential. He, like many football players came from a very difficult background but whether or not Bryant's mom is a prostitute has no baring on his ability to play football.

Finally, would a white draft prospect be asked this question? Would a middle-aged white man from Texas who holds all the power in this dynamic dare ask a white student this? Unlikely. Must Bryant, who will almost certainly endure numerous injuries and ultimately shorten his life expectancy be expected to break himself for a racist jerk like this?

From my perspective:
Ireland shouldn't have asked the question. Period. It's offensive and really, is this going to help him make a decision? Ireland works for one of the few NFL teams who have (minority) owners of color. Furthermore, the league is clearly trying to expand viewership in non-white markets. Questions like this set the Dolphins and the league back. It's just not worth it. Also, if Ireland really needs to know the answer, couldn't he just ask Bryant to expand on his childhood?

With its measuring, testing, and guesswork regarding the likely productivity individual humans, 65% of whom are black, the NFL draft bears an uncomfortable resemblence to slave auctions. Teams all but ask players to show them how nice their teeth are. Is there a more dehumanizing interview process in America? (Check Chris Rock for a very NSFW piece on the NFL)

The difference is, electing to play football at the highest level is a legitimate choice. No one is forcing Bryant or any of the other thousands of players who declare themselves draft-eligible to do this. While Ireland's question is insensitive, unnecessary, and probably racist, he should have the right to ask whatever he wants. This isn't a Kumbayya session, it's football. His job rests on him being able to assess talent and risk.

Personally, if you are interviewing me for that kind of cash you can ask ask, intimate, or outright accuse me, my family, or anyone else. I may not like it and I'll never respect you as a person but it'll be worth it in the end. No one will make YouTube highlight reels about Jeff Ireland. They've already made 800 about Bryant.



Ryan Wanger said...

He can ask whatever he wants as far as I'm concerned. However, what is there to gain? If you suspect it enough to ask, then you probably aren't going to believe him if he says no. And if he says yes? Then what? He can't play for your team?

Either way, the moment the question is asked, he probably won't want to play for you anymore. Best case scenario is that he's mistrustful and suspicious of the organization for the rest of his time there.

GnightMoon said...

Do you think the Broncos draft Dez if his mother is certifiably non-prostitute?

81Trucolors said...

"Do you think the Broncos draft Dez if his mother is certifiably non-prostitute?"

This is a joke, right? McD just traded Dezin5years away.

Amanda said...

I meant to tell you that I thought this was a great post. I love the Chris Rock bit (given, I love most Chris Rock stand up).

I sometimes wonder about the "no one is forcing..." part. When can you say that he's "choosing" to partake in something? When someone grows up in a low income area with parents who have to sell drugs there access to education, and hence other "choices," is usually limited to say the least. While I agree that a team has to assess risk and that folks are usually willing to put up with more crap for large sums of money (ex. I have no sympathy for Britney Spears when she complains about a lack of privacy), I'm not sure I'm willing to excuse a dehumanizing comment just because an athlete "choses" his profession.

Anonymous said...

I certainly will jump in on the conversation as a loyal OSU fan. Dez Bryant's off the field issues are minimal at best. He had an issue with being on time to practice as a freshman. His suspension last year was not due to any off the field misconduct, rather he was suspended for lying to the NCAA when asked about his interactions with Deion Sanders. He may be seen as a "character risk" but not due to multiple off the field issues as is generally stated in this post.

I disagree with the comments and jumping to conclusions about the GM being a racist. Come on are you SERIOUS? So he asks him if his mom is a prostitute and based on that this man is racist? Crazeeeeeee


1.a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
2.a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3.hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

Just because Dez Bryant is black does not make this question remotely racist in its genesis. This guy has to protect him team, if his mom is a prostitute it will create negative publicity, period.

You are so right that his mom's chosen profession has no bearing on his on the field performance. His background absolutely plays into what he may or may not do off the field. In this case, I believe Dez to be an outstading athlete and a man capable of, "behaving" off the field.

In a business like the NFL public perception can mean millions of dollars. the GM has a responsibility to the team to ensure the best possible image for his team. If his mother's actions will be a distraction for the team and its fans, he has every right to ask it, and no it doesn't mean he doesn't like black people.