— Dab Newton (@CainMcCoy) November 30, 2015
Right about now, Robert Flores is—I’m guessing—in an office, staring down at the ground, wondering whether he’ll have a job tomorrow.
In case you missed it, earlier this morning the ESPN personality appeared on SportsCenter to offer his usual quirky take on the weekend’s weirdest, oddest, funniest, most unique moments. After going through a bunch of plays, he turned to Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, who scored a touchdown against the Bills and then did this dance …
With Jay Crawford and Jaymee Sire looking on, Flores offered this: “If you’re wondering why there’s no letters to the editor, or why First Take isn’t doing, ‘Should Travis Kelce be dancing in the end zone …’ I wonder why they’re not doing that. Oh, because he’s not black—that’s probably what it is.”
Crawford and Sire laughed awkwardly. Flores sorta smiled.
And then—it ended.
And then—Flores found himself in deep poop.
That’s just a guess, admittedly. But ESPN is ESPN, which means the network can’t help suspending/lambasting its employees whenever they dare comment controversially on anything outside of touchdowns/field goals/homers. It is, after all, a huge corporation; a conglomerate of myriad brands, labels, IDs. And while Flores’ take was spot-on and 100-percent correct, the higher-ups at the World Wide Leader know a huge number of its viewers are conservative sports nuts who support Ben Carson’s candidacy (“How cab I be racist? The guy I want to be president is negroid … um … colored … um … black!”), own a solid number of guns and want folks like Flores to smile, shut the fuck up about social issues and give us the results of Dodgers-Reds. Dammit.
I, for one, applaud Flores—a true talent who said what is too often unsaid: That there’s a ridiculous behavioral double standard in sports (and sports media) for white and black athletes. The white athletes are smart, hard working, dogged, farm-raised and bred on hard work. The black athletes are strong, fast, gifted, instinctive, surely from a single-family home with a hardscrabble background and a love of [FILL IN THE BLANK] rapper. When a white athlete dances, it’s funny; kooky. When a black athlete dances, he’s selfish and showboating.
So, yeah, Robert Flores, keep speaking the truth.
And, if ESPN lets you go, there’s always a place at jeffpearlman.com.
We pay in Roger Clemens biographies.