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 .