It’s understandable to think Brett Favre is getting a pass from the media
OPINION: Many people saw an imbalance in the media coverage between Boston Celtic coach Ime Udoka and the Hall of Fame quarterback, even though the media has been covering Favre's involvement in a welfare fraud scheme for the past two years.
Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
If I were a cop, I’d understand if some folks struggled to see past my blue line of work. The police have a history of anti-Black behavior that makes it difficult to separate individuals from the force.
As I’ve learned from working, studying and living, “the news media” produces similar skepticism among proponents of Black lives. Yes, there are exceptions within the ranks of journalists. But as a whole, the industry has reinforced the status quo more than discouraged it during four centuries of hell on these shores.
The media is guilty of crafting images and spreading stereotypes that have worked against Black people’s interests and continue to this day. No argument there. And while I see no link between coverage of NBA coach Ime Udoka and NFL legend Brett Favre, I understand why some of y’all might.
Intergenerational racial trauma is real and omnipresent, breathed like oxygen with no thought.
Native Americans can testify to the impact of traumatic journeys. The American Psychological Association says signs of our racial trauma include: distrusting others due to multiple past losses or letdowns; feeling triggered by reminders of previous racist experiences, which can lead to strong responses; and extreme paranoia or hypervigilance.
I saw as much from some commentators after the Boston Celtics suspended Udoka for policy violations—reportedly for having an intimate relationship with a female staff member.
By the time we learned of Udoka’s misbehavior last week, Favre’s alleged involvement in a welfare scheme was more than two years old. In April, Mississippi Today published results from a five-month investigation. New details continue to emerge, including a guilty plea last week from a former official accused of funneling welfare funds to Favre, among others, as well as text messages that revealed Favre’s involvement in the scheme.
The Hall of Fame QB had been in the news for a while, whereas the Udoka revelations were brand new. Nevertheless, some saw an imbalance.
“If you are more upset about Ime Udoka and the Celtics situation than Brett Favre STEALING MILLIONS IN WELFARE MONEY FROM THE POOREST PEOPLE IN OUR COUNTRY IN MISSISSIPPI then you are part of the problem,” tweeted ESPN analyst Robert Griffin III. A Deadspin columnist suggested that the media treat Favre like it did Michael Vick and Colin Kaepernick. There were mentions of the coverage Jameis Winston received after stealing $32 worth of crab legs.
We don’t need a reason to look for discrepancies and disparities in media coverage. But pain is a motivator.
It hurts when symbols of Black strength have been toppled, even justly. And there’s a long tradition of unjustness. The media seems much quicker to forgive and forget other people’s stumbles while forever remembering and recalling ours. That might not be true all the time, but it feels like 50-50.
The news about Udoka was shocking and crushing, a blindside hit. He became a household name as a first-year coach, leading the Celtics to the finals with Nia Long as his No. 1 cheerleader. Now he’s gone in a flash as the NBA returns, a downer for everyone—especially Boston’s female staffers, who’ve been humiliated as folks tried to suss out Udoka’s partner. There wasn’t a bigger sports story when it broke, rightfully so, with potential leaguewide ramifications.
But I don’t blame folks who think Favre’s image has shielded him from venom he’d receive as a Black star of his stature. His legend endeared him to forces in Middle America that see diversity as a problem. A hero to some, he has proven to be a creep and a cretin; he yet might face trial for being a crook.
Don’t take it from me. Take it from a fellow journalist, Jeff Pearlman, whose 2016 Favre biography was a New York Times bestseller. Pearlman tweeted last week that the book is largely glowing and fairly positive, but “if I’m being brutally honest—I’d advise people not to read it. He’s a bad guy. He doesn’t deserve the icon treatment. He doesn’t deserve acclaim. … I don’t know how someone like that looks in the mirror.”
Me either. I feel the same way about media members who pull punches in the face of white privilege while throwing haymakers against cries for justice. They’re no better than those cops who can turn a blind eye and lie about a “good shooting” yet peacefully arrest an armed killer and treat him to Burger King.
Yes, I’m mad about Udoka, AND it doesn’t compare to a scandal that stole millions from poor people. Udoka will fade into the background and might have to find a new job. Favre will remain in the news and might have to serve time.
Sounds right to me, so let’s move on.
Nothing to see here for now.
Deron Snyder, from Brooklyn, is an award-winning columnist who lives near D.C. and pledged Alpha at HU-You Know! He’s reaching high, lying low, moving on, pushing off, keeping up, and throwing down. Got it? Get more at blackdoorventures.com/deron.
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