Why no hurry to bury Sapp after same against Rush?
Three weekends ago, there was a major upheaval when ESPN commentator Rush Limbaugh made what many listeners perceived as racially inflammatory comments during the network’s pregame show. The outcry was so overwhelming that it led to Limbaugh resigning.
But there has been little reaction nationally in the last week to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Warren Sapp’s controversial comments made during CBS’ pregame program last Sunday, in which he accused NFL officials of “slave master” management.
He was upset because he had been warned that he would be punished if he cavorted in the opponents’ warm-up area-something he had done before.
“It’s a slave system,” Sapp said in the interview. “Make no mistake about it, slave master say you can’t do it, don’t do it. They’ll make an example out of you.”
Although there was little backlash elsewhere, HBO’s “Inside the NFL” didn’t shy away.
Host Bob Costas said, “In light of the developments of the last couple of weeks, if we are going to take exception to insensitive comments . . . when they come from one direction, then in order to be honest we ought to take at least some measure of exception when someone needlessly and stupidly injects race into a conversation when it comes from another direction.
“Anybody, white or black, who cares about the present state of race relations in America . . . would never trivialize that discussion by likening being disciplined for football infractions to anything that has to do with slavery or racism. It’s so far out of bounds, it is out of the stadium.”
Added panelist Cris Carter, who is No. 2 on the NFL’s career receptions list: “He made a tremendous mistake as far choice of words. The words he used were not appropriate to the situation. There is no comparison of being a player in the National Football League and being on a plantation and being a slave. It is no different then the players before the game saying we are going to war, compared to someone who has actually been in combat. As athletes we always make these mistakes.”
Fellow panelist Cris Collinsworth, also a former NFL player, questioned if broadcasters have a different rung of responsibility than players when discussing such matters.
“I thought, really, a new standard had been set in the National Football League . . . that we were going to leave race out of the discussion, and it is a good standard,” Collinsworth said. “Now, are we just going to apply that to broadcasters? Does it just apply to us or does it apply to the players? And probably you are going to give the players a little bit more of a break and the broadcasters are going to held to a higher standard. It’s awful and it’s embarrassing, to be honest with you.
“. . . For fans to endure the idiotic discussion on race they’ve gotten this year, it’s embarrassing. It’s bad.”
Every dog has his day
The youth baseball team coached by the Cubs fan who tried to catch a foul ball in Game 6 of the NL championship series rallied in a Northbrook park near his house Saturday.
Twenty past and present members of the team of 13- and 14-year- olds coached by Steve Bartman, carried signs to express their support.
With the Cubs five outs from their first World Series last Tuesday night, Bartman got in the way of outfielder Moises Alou as he was trying to catch a fly in the stands along the left-field line.
After the near-miss, the Cubs fell apart, blowing a 3-0 lead and losing 8-3. They also lost Game 7 to the Marlins 9-6.
“A lot of the parents and kids wanted to do something, so we decided to have a rally,” said organizer and fellow coach Jeff Siegel.
“Steve’s in a lot better spirits and he’s grateful for the support,” said Siegel, who said he talked to Bartman on Saturday but wouldn’t reveal his whereabouts. “He’s trying to get his life back together.”
Edited by Bill Liesse. Contributing: Dan Caesar of St. Louis Post- Dispatch, The Associated Press.
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