Monday, January 27, 2014

Don't Get Rid of "Thug" Label, Just Make Sure It Fits...

Richard Sherman is not a thug.
He’s a punk. Jackass. Self-promoter.
It doesn’t mean thugs don’t exist, or that the word needs to be banned. Thug is a perfectly useful word that works for a variety of actors in the public sphere.
To me, in the sports world a thug is an irresponsible, self-absorbed, quasi-criminal, who you might even seem to think plays sports only for the millionaire, MTV cribs lifestyle it provides – not for the joy of the game, or any other high concept principle.
It helps to have some “thug” accessories, the trappings of inner-city street life that has been glamorized by rappers for years now. You know, tattoos, gold teeth, bling, guns, weed. Oh, and at least a few kids to a few different baby mommas.
Sherman ain’t the thug on that team, Marshawn Lynch is.
The same disregard and respect for others, led to him losing his driver’s license in New York state just ONE DAY after he got it, when he hit a pedestrian at 3 in the morning and just kept driving home.
Beast Mode, indeed.
He then racked up a weapons charge in California in the off-season, was suspended 3 games by the NFL, traded away by Buffalo for a mere 5th rounder, then picked up another DUI as a Seahawk in 2012 – a case that has been pushed back all the way until THIS spring! – all the while dodging the media this season to the tune of a $50,000 fine.
Sorry, but I wouldn’t let Marshawn Lynch watch my parked car from an office window, much less babysit by kids. Sherman, meanwhile, I’d hire to come over to handle the kids while I went out to a movie, tomorrow.
They’d probably have a blast.
If you hang out with people who have or would: 1. Beat 2. Stab 3. Threaten or 4. Kill somebody, you’re a thug.
Michael Vick was a classic NFL thug when he was a Falcon. A dogfighting, weed smoking, posse-having, money wasting wanna-be “baller” – not a genuine football player. Oh, he played football alright – but mainly just to finance all the rest.
Then jail happened. And you know what, he mostly left the thug lifestyle behind, and played a few of his best seasons ever as an Eagle.
Good for him.
Another black quarterback for the Eagles, had a rather long and very successful career as the anti-Vick. Responsible. Accountable. Embraced the corporate opportunities of being an NFL star, was never once in trouble with the law, and likely has most of his millions still in the bank.
Good too, for him.
And as much as some would like to make it a black/white thing, or a “racial coding” thing, let’s not forget the things that were said about white guys like Bill Laimbeer, Todd Bertuzzi, Richie Incognito and others.
A “thug” label in sports, is fuzzy around the edges, and subject to personal interpretation. It’s also sometimes a “phase” that athletes will move in and out of, depending upon their evolving level of maturity.
To retire the label “thug” in sports would be a mistake. Let’s just make sure to save it for the guys it truly fits.


  1. Czabe: I agree with most of what you said, but by your definition, Bill Laimbeer is NOT a thug. Dirty player, sure, but never involved in any off the court legal issues.

  2. I sympathized with the "thug is a code word" argument but in the end I couldn't get past the fact that it would also mean there is yet another taboo word in our lexicon. I have to put up with a lot of other people's stupid non-sense and statements (Free Speech, First Amendment, etc, etc, etc.) and I swear to God I think 90% of all web blogs have some sort of left leaning slant; so no, I am not getting spun up about the use of thug.

    Also a thug: Putin. (Per John Boehner on the Leno show the other day)

    1. Completely agree. I'd like to throw a few other whites in there. Ryan Leaf. Justin Beiber. Marky Mark back in the day. And Alec Baldwin. Doesn't have anything to do with race.

  3. I hated on Randall Cunningham too. As a Skins fan. But the guy was clean. I never called him a thug. He finished college and took to the pulpit. Good for him.