Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sean Taylor: a follow-up

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

Following up bsto's last post, it seems that certain things are coming. Antrel Rolle, who played football with Sean Taylor since the age of six (through college at Miami) said that Taylor had been living in fear for awhile...because of old friends who he had tried to distance himself from.

His girlfriend, though, said he had none of those problems.

This obviously presents problems: who to believe? Maybe it's a mixture of both--but it's easy to see that by deciding to "get out" instead of "hang out" (as Wilbon put it), one's old friends can take it not so kindly. They want a piece of the pie--they want to roll deep in the entourage...we're boys, you know--if one of us makes it, we all make it.

That's what's tough about guys. We do have this idea in mind. I'm incredibly proud of bsto for getting on with the dcist, and I feel like it's my victory as well. It's not so much that we live vicariously, but our boys are extensions of ourselves--you are, the old saying goes, the company that you keep.

I mean, my dreams of "success" always include hiring friends as partners in whatever venture I take on, and I know the same is true likewise. Is it hard to differentiate between good friends and business associates? Sure--but I think I have friends that would be both.

And Taylor probably decided first that his friends were both, but upon reflection, saw that his boys were friends, not business partners. It's not that they weren't his boys and, thus, he had to ditch them--it was because they WERE his boys that he had to leave them behind.

As Michael Vick's case illustrates, hanging out with "your boys" can get you into a lot of trouble. And, unfortunately, leaving them behind also complicates things, as Sean Taylor tragically found out.

I think Wilbon oversimplifies the situation, to be honest. However, he gets it right when he writes:
Mainstream folks -- and, yes, this is a code word for white folks -- see high-profile athletes dealing with this dilemma and think it's specific to them, while black folks know it's everyday stuff for everybody, for kids with aspirations of all kinds -- even for a middle-class kid with a police-chief father, such as Taylor -- from South Central to Southeast to the South Side. Some do, some don't. Some will, some won't. Some can, some cannot. Often it's gut-wrenching. Usually, it's necessary. For some, it takes a little bit too long.

This isn't just an African-American problem--it's a problem that we all face. Unfortunately, we hear about it most in the black community because African-Americans simply aren't given the same opportunities to get back on track. There's just less opportunities for minorities to go to college and really get things going in the right direction. Sean Taylor made good on his life--his old buddies, who were unfairly disadvantaged, could not.

It's a problem with the system more than it is with anything else. That's what it always comes down, to, though--the system.

And if you think that we've all got the same opportunities in America, not only will you strongly disagree with my point, but I want you to know that you're lying to yourself. In no other country in the world is there such a disparity between the haves and have-nots than in America, and this creates the problem that took Sean Taylor's life way too soon.