Deleted Scene: The Racist Relations

Here’s a lead I wrote and discarded for an upcoming Chicago Sports Review story on black coaches in the NFL:

We’ve all got a version of the story I’m about to tell. Here’s mine.

I’ve got a relation who’s about as racist as you can get. But not in the burning-crosses-on-the-lawn kind of way; he views the races the way a baseball fan views his favorite team. The white race is his Red Sox; blacks are his Yankees.

In one of those grand little cosmic jokes, he was a National Guardsman sent to keep the peace at Ole Miss in 1962 when James Meredith broke the color barrier. “Can you imagine that,” he once laughed, “me guarding a—” …you can finish the sentence yourself. But he delivered it in the bemused tone of a Sox fan asked to wear a Derek Jeter jersey.

Thing is, thirty years after that operation, his daughter happened to meet one Michael Jordan at a bar somewhere and got her photo taken with him. The photo hangs on his refrigerator to this day. I once asked him how pissed he’d be if his daughter brought Michael Jordan home as her new boyfriend.

“Not a bit,” he said. “He’s one of the good ones.”


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