Friday, March 9, 2012

Ish You Should Know Calvin Patterson

Tobias calls out the million dollar athletes who fuck it all up for themselves, their family, and the culture—and recognizes one of many who tried not to…

My alter ego works a 9-5 job, is pretty proud of what he has accomplished, but knows he has a lot to accomplish still. It is not the sense of accomplishment that battles complacency. Rather, it is the sense of how quickly things could turn for the worse. No matter how much you achieve in a field or particular interest, there is still more to do in life and for the world.In this the age of multi-million dollar athletes with their endorsements, it pains me when athletes waste their talent because they get wrapped in a life or rep.

This point personified is Michael Vick.

There are things in cultures that others do not understand, and that’s o.k. Someone though, should have said,“Hey Michael, don’t fight pit bulls…idiot.” Here’s another. “Hey Nate Newton don’t transport hundreds of pounds of weed in the Mystery Machine.”

This is not an attack on African American players because all people make mistakes. Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers was hooked on crack, but he made it back. I have a partiality to his story because he is a North Carolina boy. Chris Anderson of the New Orleans Hornets ran into the same situation and we’ll see how far he makes it back. What (in the fuck) was Matt Jones thinking getting caught cutting up coke? The stories are endless and cut across race.

I gear this toward black people because with minorities, athletes are particularly polarized as representatives of the culture. When you have bouts of idiocy, it is reflective of a people. You’re spiting people, history and the cause. Google Calvin Patterson and see what you’ll find. Here is a young man who was the first Black player to play for the Florida State Seminoles. His story was so tragic that FSU didn’t even recognize him as such. For decades, J.T. Thomas was recognized as the first.

Patterson enrolled in FSU in 1968 after growing up with his great aunt in Dade County. He enrolled in a white school in the south where football is more sacred than communion. He faced the obligatory death threats, internal racism for dating a white woman, and the Florida A&M students resented him for attending a white school.
In reading the article at, two particular points touched me about the story. One, he was befriended by a professor who was raised essentially as a racist. After attending Cornell, the professor’s eyes were opened and became the campus liason for black enrollement.

People do learn and can change.

In general, we would not be where we are today if people did not change. Racism does still exist but those out front cannot continually give people a reason to believe in the stereotypes they were taught.
Secondly and most importantly, after being ruled ineligible to play due to his academic performance, it seems Patterson felt worst about not being able to play for his family. At least from what I can infer, he felt a responsibility (or perhaps a burden depending on your sentiment) of playing and representing his family. Faced with not playing football, he shot himself in the stomach in attempt to end his playing career. Sadly, he bled to death before the ambulance arrived.

History did balance itself out somewhat in this case. Tommy Warren, a former quarterback of the Seminoles, became a civil rights lawyer in Florida and fought for the recognition of Patterson as the first African American player at FSU. Patterson’s family was recognized in 2004 and a scholarship was established in his name.

It stories like these that prevent you from feeling sorry for an athlete ruining an opportunity. It’s not for me to judge how Calvin Patterson chose to deal with his circumstances because I have never had to experience those conditions. I can judge him for having pride enough in his family and community to know that he was representing them. He had to have been a source of pride for them as well.
When an athlete Vicks his situation, I have no sympathy because you’re only perpetuating a feeling of negativity against black athletes and to some, black people as a whole. Don’t worry if you’re not street anymore. You’re making millions of dollars to play a sport. There are people who cannot put food on their table…and you dogfight?! Your boys are not your boys if they will let you do something that will ruin your opportunity. If they do call you on it and you don’t listen, that is your mistake. Live with the consequences.

I hope athletes appreciate their role. Whether you know it or not, people are watching and judging. Right or wrong, these are the circumstances.

Represent, your family, friends and culture men and women. Change a mind or two.

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