Win or lose, Jonathan Martin will have a much more positive Thursday night viewing experience than he did last week. Last Thursday, Martin watched from South Florida as the Dolphins upset the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday Night Football.
On Thursday night, his alma mater will seek to remove the dirt from their national championship coffins against the Oregon Ducks. According to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, he’ll be home in California documenting the abusive atmosphere he endured within the Dolphins locker room that could name other teammates besides Richie Incognito.
On Wednesday, his Dolphins teammates began damage control through the media. The entire locker room defended Incognito in unison against accusations that he was a bully or bigot.
However, a surprising nugget emerged from Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald’s conversations with one of Incognito’s former teammates.
Via Miami Herald:
Well, I've spoken to multiple people today about this and the explanation from all of them is that in the Dolphins locker room, Richie Incognito was considered a black guy. He was accepted by the black players. He was an honorary black man.
And Jonathan Martin, who is bi-racial, was not. Indeed, Martin was considered less black than Incognito.
"Richie is honorary," one player who left the Dolphins this offseason told me today. "I don't expect you to understand because you're not black. But being a black guy, being a brother is more than just about skin color. It's about how you carry yourself. How you play. Where you come from. What you've experienced. A lot of things."
Wrap your brain around the concept of an "honorary black man." Never mind the fact that his first name is Richie and the first image that comes to mind when you hear that name it is Macaulay Culkin’s greased up hair and a British butler. Martin’s mixed blood is just the half of it. From the sound of their passionate defense of Incognito, it was almost as if they were describing someone we’d never met before. He could rock blackface and they’d compliment him on his paint selection. Incognito makes Riley Cooper sound like someone who locked arms and marched alongside John Lewis on Bloody Sunday humming “We Shall Overcome”.
Amazingly, Incognito pays no interest back on his “Black Card”. Fans don’t refer to him as a thug, he doesn’t give back to the black community, he was accepted to a Harvard, Northwestern business program despite getting kicked out of two colleges as an undergrad, plus he can shop at Barneys without getting stopped and frisked. The blackest experience of Incognito’s background were his drives through St. Louis to Edward Jones Stadium during the formative years of his career.
How exactly did Incognito gain a black card despite growing up in Arizona, a border state which passed the most discriminatory law in the United States three years ago, before getting kicked out of Nebraska and Oregon?
Meanwhile, Martin is viewed as a sell-out because of his ink-free arms, non-threatening demeanor and Stanford education trifecta.
According to the honorary black criteria dictated by Martin’s teammates, Richie Incognito is blacker than Martin and President Obama. High-flying Florida Gulf Coast University is blacker than Georgetown basketball and their Princeton offense. Johnny Manziel is blacker than Teddy Bridgewater. It’s warped frame of mind than often alienates African-American students from academic achievement.
Martin’s Stanford teammate Richard Sherman aligns with the public’s perception of how a typical black men ought to behave. Sherman’s 4.2 high school GPA is overshadowed by a brash attitude, dreadlocks and Compton experiences. Martin does not compute. The Dolphins racial draft trade of Incognito for Martin is a reflection of how they’ve been conditioned to believe the same.
If he’d played for Doug Williams at Grambling, he might have earned the required credit necessary to renew his black card. Turns out, they’ve never taken a peek inside the “Stanford bubble”.
The Farm’s a Shadow HBCU football program already. John Walsh, John Harbaugh, John Elway and Jim Plunkett are relics of the past. I spy George W. Bush’s Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Tyrone Willingham as the only two African-Americans selected to serve on the College Football Playoff Selection Committee.
David Shaw is one of only a baker’s dozen African-American coaches in the FBS ranks, and his staff is stocked with brothas. His defensive coordinator Derek Mason is one of the nation’s top assistants and his previous offensive coordinator, Pep Hamilton represents a third of the NFL’s black offensive coordinator population (only he and Jim Caldwell are play callers).
While most schools struggle with diversity, Stanford hired minority football coaches, Denny Green, Willingham and Shaw, between 1989 and 2011. In January, Shaw became the first black head coach to win a BCS bowl game.
Stanford’s diversity extends beyond football to the hoops sidelines with Johnny Dawkins and reaches to the athletic department, which is headed by Bernard Muir.
And for bonus “honorary black” points, they have a band that once became more famous than the football team.
Grambling football thinks they have it bad? Grambling hoops suffered 28 defeats in 28 outings last season. Under Incognito rules, that’s unacceptable. Stanford is an honorary HBCU. Welcome to the club. Ya lost Grambling, but gained a public Ivy with a billionaire benefactor.
HEISMAN JURY: These candidates are making their case for why they should be awarded the sport’s most prestigious trophy. Each week, TSL will deliberate over each player’s weekly exploits.
Marcus Mariota – On Thursday night he’ll get a second crack at the only defense to shut down Oregon since the 2011 BCS National Championship Game. In the 10 games since that loss Mariota hasn’t thrown a single interception.
Jameis Winston – On Saturday, we saw glimpses of imperfection from Winston. Winston calmed down after committing a pair of first half interceptions, but his poor vision explains why he performs so well in night games: He’s like a bat. While Florida State leapt to No. 2 in the BCS rankings, Winston took a step backwards in the Heisman hierarchy.
Johnny Manziel – Manziel is running much less often than he did last season, but Heisman voters don’t seem to appreciate his contributions unless he’s producing highlight reel runs in the open field.
Bryce Petty – Thursday night is the first time Petty takes center stage. Infamy or fame awaits. If Mariota turns in a stinker, Petty may find his slimmest of openings.
Lache Seastrunk – The other half of Baylor’s offensive. Defending the pass is Oklahoma’s specialty. Seastrunk could eat well against an Oklahoma defense that served up 255 yards to Texas last month.
INTO THE FIRE: A magical Thursday night is the opening act for Alabama’s most challenging regular season test left on the schedule.
No. 10 Oklahoma at No. 6 Baylor
Two years ago, Robert Griffin III produced the most iconic moments in the history of Baylor football history when current-Redskin quarterback Griffin uncorked a 34-yard touchdown pass to rookie Cowboys receiver Terrance Williams as he was drilled by a defensive lineman.
Bryce Petty’s Heisman hopes aren’t receiving the same acclaim as RGIII’s, but that’s not the trophy Baylor fans have their sights on. Art Briles’ boys are taking it one game at a time, but it’s hard not to look ahead and envision the possibility of Baylor pulling off the most dramatic turnaround in college football history.
This time around, a potential win over Oklahoma shouldn’t come down to a final drive. They’ve got to establish their dominance to prove to voters that they belong in the same airspace as the eventually Pac-12, SEC and ACC Champions.
No. 3 Oregon vs. Stanford
This is an audition for the BCS and various athletic directors around the nation. Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason should become a coveted head coaching candidate if his defense proves their last win over the Ducks was not a fluke. Everywhere the Ducks turned in their 17-14 loss last November, the Cardinals had a presence like cops during New Years in Times Square, as a tackler or defensive back waited for Oregon’s running backs anytime they turned the corner.
Stanford’s blueprint for defensive success begins with the Cardinal gap control and discipline, but that’s not enough. In addition to sealing up any holes, they back their linebackers up off the line of scrimmage, don’t miss tackles and trap ball carriers in their web.
How can Oregon counter that? Mariota’s completion percentage is lower than it was during his freshman campaign, but his vertical passing has evolved considerably. If he can push the ball downfield against Stanford, that should could open up their rushing lanes as well.
Heisman Trophy winners rise above the X’s and O’s defensive coordinators use to scheme against an opposing offense. If Oregon’s well-oiled offensive machine stalls again, it’ll be because Mariota’s not the signal caller we thought he was.
No. 13 LSU at No. 1 Alabama
Unlike Texas A&M, LSU can physically matchup with the Crimson Tide. Equal experience on the defensive end is lacking though. However, Zach Mettenberger has an explosive arm that can drop tiny firebombs onto Alabama’s beleaguered secondary.
The Tigers can suck 'Bama’s safeties and linebackers in by pounding away with Jeremy Hill between the tackles. It may seem like a challenge, but when ‘Bama has faced quarterbacks who can sling it downfield with the flick of a wrist, they get burned. A.J. McCarron may have to win this one for 'Bama for the second year in a row.
JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS
Sometimes we forget that before we were on this Earth building monuments for civil rights leaders, college football coaches, student-athletes, pro athletes and the Hollywood Walk of Fame, this place was primordial goo. Over millions of years of nature’s renovations and auspicious circumstances, our rise to the top of the food chain rankings was paved.
As we embark on a wild November, the BCS is just as gummed up as the Earth was in its embryonic stages.
Were it not for a six-mile asteroid, instead of watching a top-10 double header on Thursday night, we might be taking shifts guarding our caves against velociraptors every night.
During a calm Saturday devoid of upsets or pivotal matchups between Top-10 teams, we could see the cataclysmic Thursday looming ahead of us. Cover your ears and prep for the shockwaves because that day has arrived.
For the future stars of Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, the K-T extinction was an agonizing experience. It began, the end of the Earth’s adolescence and the beginning of its awkward puberty stage.
November is the beginning of college football’s annual mass extinction event. Baylor, Alabama, Oregon, Stanford, Ohio State and Florida State are the dominant species in the BCS food chain. Sorry to get all gloomy, but there will be a few unexpected craters in those loss columns by the end of this month. It’s as inevitable as the eventual end of life on Earth. We just don’t know when it will occur or if it’ll be self-inflicted.
Someday, football historians will look back at the 2012 season and discuss how West Virginia, the winningest FBS program without a national title, came one win over an unranked rival away from sneaking into the 2008 national championship during a wacky November. Or how Arizona State was mere minutes away from winning a share of the 1996 national championship. Or how Boise State got Brotzman’d (twice!) against Nevada on Nov. 26, 2010 in the final seconds of what may have been the most excruciatingly painful loss in college football history.
The college football record books don’t recognize teams that missed their national championships exit, but underneath the sands of time, fossils of post-October casualties are preserved intact.
Just as humans started walking upright after dinosaurs no longer walked the Earth, only two teams will be bipedal by the time the final BCS rankings are released. The rest are just waiting for their asteroid to arrive.