By Burgess Owens
As a 10-year veteran of the NFL, I had a unique perspective weekly to see the heartfelt commitment of the fan. Regardless of years of disappointing and winless seasons, the true fans remained die-hard in their loyalty to "the Team." The true fans were capable of not only painting their cars and homes their team colors, but also naming family pets and offspring after famous NFL all-stars.
On our way to the Super Bowl XV Championship, the Oakland Raiders played a frigid 1981 AFC playoff game in Cleveland, in which the temperatures plunged to -35 degrees. I remember looking up in the stands to see a dedicated Cleveland Brown fan celebrating topless. I've often wondered if there was a price that young man later paid for his rambunctious youthful zeal. Would there be in his future some physical accountability for this fanatical commitment to "The Team"?
I've since wondered: when does this type of loyalty and willingness to sacrifice all that is dear begin? Does it stem from decades of family tradition, a love of the team colors, or did his high school team share the same mascot? The answer is found under the heading of pure emotion.
There was a different, visionary team commitment that guided the black community at the beginning of the 20th century, best envisioned by educator, entrepreneur, and founder of Tuskegee University Booker T. Washington. He articulated a pathway, via meritocracy and capitalism, by which the black community could experience independence and self-sufficiency. He felt that respect and acceptance could be commanded from others through a good work ethic, business ownership, and commitment to morality and to family. Washington once stated, "Say what you will, there is something in the human nature which makes one man, in the end, recognize and reward merit in another, regardless of race."
Unfortunately, over the last five decades, far too many Americans have lost the belief in the ideals of meritocracy and capitalism that once empowered past generations of American visionaries. Now almost half of our country's populace and over 90% of the black community cling in fan-like loyalty to an ideology as reality-defying as the fanatical bare-chested young man in Cleveland celebrating in the dangerously frigid -35-degree weather, showing his dedication to "the Team," heedless of commonsense understanding of the fundamentals of personal health and welfare.
Over the last 50 years, the black community has, en masse, worn the uniform of an ideology that has left its communities and schools totally bankrupt. Through decades of empty promises and investment of human life and capital, it has shown a total dedication to an ideology whose strategy has resulted in consistent and dismal losing seasons. Unfortunately, unlike in the entertainment world of sports, where fans go home or simply turn off their wide-screen and then debate what might have been, these losing seasons have had dire human consequences that cannot simply be walked away from. These consequences can be documented in every predominately black community where liberal and socialist policies rule. From cities like Detroit, where the population has dropped by 25% over the last decade and 47% of those remaining are deemed functional illiterate, to Oakland, where a liberal school board attempted to legitimized a debased "urban" slang called Ebonics, highlighting its low expectations of its minority children, to D.C. and Chicago, which alternate as our country's murder capitals, these cities reflect the culminating impact of citizens trapped in government-mandated hopelessness. They reflect the intergenerational failure that has been embraced as the norm, with statistics of single black mothers at an astounding 70%, where abortion profit centers find a welcome home and take the lives of an average of 325,000 black babies each year since 1973, where 50% of black teenagers are unemployed, and where a failed educational system guarantees that far too many are unemployable.
The ideological teams of liberalism, socialism, and progressives have been granted over 50 years to prove the validity of their strategy. For Americans of all backgrounds who are committed to a successful outcome for their fellow citizens, who won't settle for perpetual excuses, it has become crystal-clear that it is time for a new coach and a new strategy. The message in November to Coach Obama and his Democratic team needs to be...it's all about the Team, and "Team America" is priority #1 with us.
Burgess Owens is the author of the soon-to-be-released book It's All about Team - Exposing the Black Talented Tenth. He is a former first-round draft pick of the NY Jets, who concluded an All-Pro career with the Oakland Raiders after a career-highlight win in Super Bowl XV over the Philadelphia Eagles. Learn more at www.BurgessOwensTalks.com.