As I was observing the buzz created this week by the U.S. Supreme Court hearings on gay marriage, I couldn’t help but think about former Packers great Reggie White.
Most Packers fan who are old enough probably remember this speech by White in front of the Wisconsin state legislature in March of 1998. White was scheduled to talk about some of his community service work. Instead the Minister of Defense went off about the sins of homosexuality and how being gay is a “decision.”
White also appeared in a few newspaper ads run by Christian organizations wearing his Packers jersey and promoting his opposition to homosexuality.
Can you imagine if White did these things in 2013 instead of 1998? Twitter would spontaneously combust. The comments section at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel would turn into even more of a cesspool than it already is. Collin Cowherd, Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless would reach new levels of intolerable. Activist organizations would storm Lambeau Field.
White’s legacy would probably be damaged beyond repair.
Or would it?
I freely admit that I always think of White the former Packer. The image of White burned into my brain is this one, Super-Bowl trophy held high, a sense of accomplishment on his face.
I never think of this image of White, the one of White in a suit and tie, condemning homosexuality and making other disparaging remarks.
Should I think of that latter image? Am I wrong for willfully ignoring the fact that White had some incredibly homophobic views?
I’ve been asking myself those questions this week. I try to justify my justification of ignoring the latter image of White by saying that he has a right to his opinions like any other American. White should be praised for speaking his mind and expressing a view that he knew was probably going to generate a lot of negative publicity.
I also tell myself that there’s nothing wrong with viewing White as a former Packer and nothing more. When actors or musicians spout off with some nonsensical thoughts, I really don’t care. It’s not going to stop me from seeing his/her movie or buying an album. Why should it be different for athletes?
Those are the justifications in my head, but in my heart, I know I’m probably being naive. What if it was Walter Payton who said what White said? Odds are I’d take every opportunity to rip Payton, a Bears icon, for being a homophobe and bigot.
I’m not saying all Packers fans who remember White as a football icon need to now go back and re-examine, or completely change, their views on the man. This post isn’t meant to do that.
I guess I’m writing this because I wanted to see if it would help me make more sense of White’s legacy in my own mind. It really hasn’t. I still love White the Packer, and try to somehow justify White the anti-gay talking head.
If I got anything out of these words that I just wrote, I suppose it might be this: Always remember that people are flawed. I have flaws. You have flaws. Reggie White had flaws. Some flaws are worse than others.
When it comes to public figures, I always try to acknowledge those flaws, even try to learn from them, if possible. We have a tendency in this country to paint public figures as either good guys or bad guys. It’s not that simple. The world and those who inahabit it are much more complex than good guys vs. bad guys.
White is the perfect example of that. Instead of willfully ignoring a certain part of White’s legacy, let’s be open about it and try to learn a thing or two.
Packers News, Notes and Links
- New contracts for Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews are reportedly getting closer to being finalized. Good. Lock these two up sooner rather than later. I always thought Rodgers might wait to see the size of Matt Ryan’s extension before signing his own, but maybe Rodgers will go first. I also think that Matthews could make a killing if he waited and became a free agent next offseason, but he could also blow out a hamstring as well.
- If you haven’t made the Packers Talk Radio Network part of your everyday Packers news diet, shame on you. Podcasts, breaking news, columns, draft coverage, etc., etc. You name it, it’s there. Also, be sure to follow John Rehor and Jacob Westendorf — two of main players on the site — on Twitter.
- The Packers signed Italian K Giorgio Tavecchio to give Mason Crosby some competition. No offense to Crosby, but I’m pulling for Tavecchio because I want to hear the Godfather theme music whenever Tavecchio nails a kick (sorry, I opened this post knocking Reggie White for using stereotypes and I just used one myself. Gets back to my nobody’s perfect theme, I suppose).
- Here’s a useful post that focuses on the NFC East portion of the Packers 2013 schedule.
- If you haven’t done it yet, make sure you order the Pro Football Draft Guide put together by CheeseheadTV.com. If you want an idea of what it looks like, you can see the entire 2012 Guide here:
- People who run blogs with comments sections and/or host call-in radio shows are rejoicing that Jermichael Finley will remain with the Packers in 2013,
Non-Packers Links and Other Nonsense
- Forget a multi-million dollar mansion or a high-rise condo in the city, I want to live in this old ballpark currently being converted into apartments.
- I re-watched the original Evil Dead this week in anticipation of the upcoming remake. My poor wife was in the room while I was watching and is now scarred for life.
- NBA players are not only competing on the court these days, they’re also competing to be the best dressed. Weird.
- A U.S. Soldier recently unveiled some newly discovered Vietnam photos. Amazing.
Adam Czech is a a freelance sports reporter living in the Twin Cities and a proud supporter of American corn farmers. When not working, Adam is usually writing about, thinking about or worrying about the Packers. Follow Adam on Twitter. Twitter .
31 thoughts on “Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived”
“The comments section at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel would turn into even more of a cesspool than it already is.”
– I am so glad that I’m not alone. That is probably the scariest collection of nasty, incestuous sports nerds I have ever come across. The various cabals of commenters are like packs of hyenas or flocks of vultures.
“Collin Cowherd, Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless would reach new levels of intolerable.”
– One upside might come from it though – perhaps their righteous indignation would escalate to such levels that a few of these guys might actually take one another out. Then something good would have come from Reggie’s comments.
As long as a line can be drawn in the dirt,people will be flawed.No matter how hard each side is argued,no matter how able a justification is for either,the birth of opposition is undeniable,unpreventable and undefeatable…surpressable to a point but never eradicated.
Dissent on any level isn’t a flaw but a natural genetic makeup,which is heightened/lowered to levels depending on what a person fears losing,whether earned by his own toiling or bestowed via beliefs embedded by ancestry.
Adam Czech wrote near the end that we all have flaws and some flaws are worse than others.
IMO,all flaws are equal,it’s the amount of time it takes to bring it light and correct it that make some seem worse than others…and that will always be decided by length and depth of the ‘line drawn in the dirt’ and the fortitude of either side to keep digging in.
How one chooses to remember Reggie White will be as natural as picking a side of the line drawn in defense of what is held dear…the football player or the Minister.
When/if Goverment can create a man made Law that signifies ‘marriage’as to the act of Natural Procreation only,perhaps both sides will enjoy all the other rights enabled and a true erasing of denials to any.
“Lines in the dirt”…where would we be without them?
“Dissent on any level isn’t a flaw but a natural genetic makeup”
Umm… not quite. Hardly anything can be attributed to genetic makeup. Race is a social construct; I am more genetically similar to my African American neighbor than they are to the African tribe from which they are descended. Dissent arises from the unjust allocation of resources to different groups based on social status, wealth, ethnicity, and sex. It is who determines the allocation mechanisms that is the interesting question.
You did read what I wrote as to dissent.I expressly ommitted any race,gender etc as basis,but simply used,fear of losing what you toiled for(earned/worked)and garnered through ancestrial teachings etc.
Point,you would be of a dissenting nature as the prospect of losing anything,regardless of race,gender,religion etc.
As someone old enough to remember, it was made into a big deal, as it should have been, by the media. However, Wisconsin’s still mostly small-town, old-timey folks who still had a mostly small-town, old-timey mindset didn’t see what the big deal was, and damn it, it’s Reggie White.
White not only spoke out on homosexuality, but he also went on to say Whites and Jews are smart and better at business, Asian people can make anything electronic small and amazing (I believed he said they can make a telephone and a computer fit inside a watch), and Black people are the best athletes.
I was appalled, and the story gained some national traction, but in Wisconsin, people really didn’t care much, by and by.
Speaking of flaws, no Packers fans like to remember that Ahman Green was arrested for beating his wife. That one never comes up.
Ugh. I forgot about that one…..
Off topic somewhat but, This story and following comments remind me of 3 other epic racist statments in sports, Jimmy the Greek saying “if Bo Jackson and Opra breed”-then something about an amazing athletic offspring.
Then of course there was Howard Cosel’s blurt about a Redskins receiver, i think Art Monk, running towards the end zone on monday night football “look at that little monkey run”
What golf pro made the comment about servingTiger Woods “chicken and watermelon” at the golf club
I would agree Reggie was homophobic, but I don’t agree it was bigotry.
How exactly do you differentiate the two? He was intolerant of a group of people based on their sexual orientation. How is that not bigotry?
Bigotry is hatred of a person because of who they are. Reggie condemned the lifestyle, not the person. It is semantics, really.
Intolerance does not mean bigotry. I’m intolerant of Nazi beliefs, so now I’m a bogot?
Um, actually, it kinda DOES mean bigotry.
What of the dog killer, Michael Vick? A friend of mine said that he did his time and we should all forgive and forget. But to me, he’s a role model, especially to youth, whether he wants to be or not, and as such did far more damage than any layman convicted of the same crime. He cannot separate his off-field actions with his profession as a QB in the NFL. I agree that there’s a tension there, and I don’t have an answer. Perhaps we can say that we loved how White played, instead of simply saying we loved Reggie White. Given what we know, can we say he’s “Packer People”?
We should forgive Vick, but no way in hell should we ever forget.
As far as White being “Packer People”? I hate that phrase in the first place, but you ask an interesting question, FourEyes.
I don’t know…..if White only expressed that he was against gay marriage, I could overlook that. I would disagree with him, but I know a lot of people who are anti-gay marriage. An anti-gay marriage view isn’t always rooted in homophobia, fear and intolerance.
My problem with White’s words was that they went well beyond gay marriage. There was a lot of homophobia, fear and intolerance in what he said…..
Reggie wasn’t afraid of it. He abhored/disliked it due to his strong religious belief and God’s word didn’t allow for same sex sexual relations. Whether you agree w/ Reggie is up to you, but it wasn’t a phobia, it was a deeply rooted religious belief. The distinction is profound.
That’s a poor excuse for intolerance.. a Popular one, but a poor excuse none the less.
All sin is equal in the eyes of god, yet I don’t recall White talking about adulterers or petty thieves.
Too many “deeply religious” homophobes show themselves in this way: they actively seek to invite drug addicts or petty criminals to come to service, but actively tell homosexuals “NOT WELCOME” in church.
Hey, Hitler was deeply religious, too.. He wasn’t a bigot.. Just had deeply rooted religious beliefs.
I wasn’t defending it… Just pointing out the difference. If your gonna talk like you have such knowledge of his dislike for Gays, you might wanna at least get the reason he was so against it right.
Churches aren’t the same as religious beliefs either. Religious beliefs are a personal choice of what you believe w/in your particular religious choice. A church is simply a place to practice your particular beliefs, whether or not they totally align w/ that churches doctrines is kinda immaterial.
For the record I am against gay marriages. Not becuz I’m afraid, nor becuz they are against any religious beliefs. I’m against it as a completely unnatural act in all of nature. Find another species where gay sexual acts are performed. They don’t. Hence IMO, Human species shouldn’t either.
1) putting plastic lenses in your eyes is completely unnatural. so is driving a car or microwaving a sandwich. So is a woman shaving her legs, or going to a tanning booth, or flying on an airplane.
2) You clearly have not watched animals very closely. Male animals will hump other male animals. Hell, they’ll hump everything and anything. Also, various different species have been observed partnering with same-sex partners in the wild. The statement you’ve made is patently false and is spewed by the ill-informed homophobes far and wide.
3) you believe what you like, I’ll believe what I like, and Reggie can be a homophobic racist. I’m okay with that.
I have no problems seeing Vick as a football role model, just as I see Tiger as one for golf. But when athletes and/or celebrities are looked up to as role models for life, our society is in trouble.
Adam, I appreciate your writing and your intellect, I really do. But please, let’s keep politics out of the Packer arena. It only is going to lead to fighting amongst Packer fans, when we should be saving all of our vitriol for Cow. 😉
We could argue the gay marriage debate until we all turn blue in the face, and no one would be moved. The issue itself is not the argument – the worldview behind the issue is. And those discussions simply aren’t productive in on a one-time-only basis. They take years of dialogue between respectful friends to make any difference.
Wasn’t trying to argue gay marriage. I suppose it’s fairly obvious which side of the debate I am on regarding that issue, but the purpose of the post wasn’t to start a gay marriage fight among Packers fans.
I was mainly trying to do some soul-searching about one of my favorite all-time Packers. White’s words about homosexuals went well beyond gay marriage.
Bearmeat– obviously quite a number of people “have been moved” since the anti-gay bigots are now in the minority. And it happened pretty quickly for something that most people, myself included, consider somewhat “icky.” Nobody should be forced to hide in a closet, or fear for their life, because of something that’s so obviously NOT a choice.
You see – right there. The “anti-gay bigots” title proves my point for me. That is called name calling. It is hurtful,and does nothing but shame a group of people. It’s just not necessary.
Exactly why I don’t want a Packers blog to cover politics.
Definition of Bigotry:
Bigoted attitudes; intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself.
I don’t see how the term has been misused.
…but especially those who treat others with hatred.
Just because I don’t tolerate my child’s misbehavior doesn’t make me a bigot. Intolerance does not equal bigotry.
You are applying your own bias to the definition at large.
Here’s Webster’s definition.
Definition of BIGOT
: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.
Notice, (ESPECIALLY) does not EXCLUDE the aforementioned definition, it is in addition to, with emphasis, but not excluding.
I don’t make the rules, I just try to make myself aware of them, and I understand that my personal definition of a given word doesn’t trump the true definition.
Stroh is probably right about reggie just believing in the Bible and being 100% convinced that the Bible is 100% Gods word and that we all should adhere to every message from the Bible.
If God does exist and all text in the bible is God’s thoughts, rules and commands, tand if God is our creator, then I guess Reggie would be right. (Even though god also would have create gay people and god also said do not judge others in this same bible)
The problem is of course, if the bible is just a book of scripts written by ordinary men, then reggie is wrong ,along with millions of others who have justified killing, wars, hatred, slavery , persecution, and a host of other despicable acts all in the name of this book..
People always go back the statement that man shall not lay with man as he does woman.
God also said love thy neighbor, do not covet thy neighbor’s wife, honor thy parents, and hundreds of other “rules to live by.” Yet, I’ve never seen people line up at chik-fil-a to protest sloth, a condition and deadly sin that I’m quite sure affects many more sinners than homosexuality.
Reggie White: Awesome football player. Bigot and Racist. There ya have it.
I completely disagree with both of you. But I am not going to argue it further on a football site.
If any of us sit down in person and have a few beers I will be happy to talk this issue through until the cows come home.
Comments are closed.