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The African-American Athlete

Rickey L. Hampton Sr.

Louisville's Jackson Deserved Heisman Trophy

Louisville's Lamar Jackson.

By Maury Jackson, For The African-American Athlete

College football this year has been a season more so about the success of teams, rather than outstanding play of individuals.

Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, and Washington, just to name a few, haven’t really been highlighted by individual players as much, but rather by team success.

There weren’t really tons of players who had the season that previous standouts such as Reggie Bush, Mark Ingram, Johnny Manziel, Cam Newton, or even Tim Tebow.

Yet and still, you can’t ignore the tremendous season Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, who won the 2016 Heisman.

What many predicted to be a landslide victory for Jackson, wasn’t the case. He edged out Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Jackson was the clear choice as college football’s best player. It’s hard to argue anyone had a season close to Jackson’s.

The only argument against Jackson is, the Cardinals’ record wasn’t Heisman’ material, and he didn’t have a huge upset against a top tier team. However, if you look by the dynamic numbers, and extraordinary play-making, there is no reason he did not deserve the Heisman.

Jackson tallied 51 total touchdowns (31 pass 20 run), leading his offense to 45.3 points a game. He even became the first player in FBS history to pass for more than 3,300 yards and rush for more than 1,500 yards.

What makes everything even more special is that he is only a sophomore. Jackson has drawn comparisons to Michael Vick, with even better throwing ability.

So, why is it that America cannot just appreciate his talent?

Many claim that Jackson is one of the least deserving winners in history.

I disagree. If you take Lamar off that Louisville team, they aren’t making a bowl game.

NFL scouts and professionals are already claiming that his body frame (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) is not suited for the professional level. Former Louisville standout, Teddy Bridgewater, has a similar body type and suffered a non-contact knee injury over the summer.

Questions about Jackson’s play continue to surface: Can he consistently throw the ball down the field? Will he be able to stay healthy? Is he a winner? Will he turn into another Manziel, Vince Young, or RGIII?

Let’s just wait and see. In the meantime, why not appreciate his greatness for what it is now? He is a sophomore with lots of potential and time to grow. At this point, it is too early to tell how well he will fare in the NFL.

For now, America should acknowledge what they saw this past season, and realize that Jackson is the only player who deserved the Heisman trophy.

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When Blacks Seek Justice We Often Find 'Just-Us'

Lady Justice is supposed to be blind. However, for blacks in the justice system she seems to be peaking out from under her blindfold.

The findings of a recent investigation by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune newspaper located in Sarasoata, Fla.,  may be surprising to some people, but it's something many black people understand as a simple of fact of life. Two people _  one black and one white _ commit the same exact crime.

However, the punishment for the two men, whose only real difference is the color of their skin, is vastly different. Throughout the state of Florida courts punish black felons with stiffer sentences 60 percent of the time over white felons facing the very same charges. For blacks with serious first time crimes they are punished 68 percent longer jail time than whites, again for the exact crime.

Blacks face 45 percent more time for burglary, and 30 percent more time for battery. Again, the only real differences in the crimes is the fact one person is black, and the other person is white. This is just a small sample of the brilliant work done by the Herald-Tribune.

The great Richard Pryor spoke of he injustice in the justice system more than 40 years ago. "They [Justice System] handing out time to niggas like it's lunch," Pryor said. "You go down there looking for justice and that is what you will find, just us."  

Click here to read the full story of the Herald-Tribune investigation. It is a must read. 

And, of course, the only way to appreciate the genuis of Pryor is to hear the man himself. Linked is video of his 'Just Us' skit. 


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Colorful Ducks Add A Little More Color To Coaching Ranks

Oregon's hiring of Willie Taggart as its head football coach is significant in regards of diversity in the FBS coaching ranks.

The Oregon Ducks football team is known for their colorful uniforms, with literally dozens of dazzlings displays of rush colors in recent years. Now, the Ducks will have a little more color on the sidelines, too.  Oregon has named former  University of South Florida coach Willie Taggart as the university's head football coach.

Taggart replaces Mark Helfrich, who was fired following a 4-8 season. The hiring of Taggart is  significant in regards to diversity in college coaching. There were only 12 black coaches out of the 120 coaches at FBS programs in 2016, down from 17 in 2011. Recently, Texas fired head coach Charlie Strong after three seasons. The opportunities for black coaches to lead power conference programs simply don't come often. For more on the hiring of Willie Taggart click here.

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