I saw this headline when I opened up ye ol' Yahoo.com:
NFL steps up monitoring of players for gang signs
NEW YORK (AP)—The NFL is stepping up its monitoring of on-field player activities to ensure that no one is flashing the hand signals of street gangs.
The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that the league had hired experts to look at game tapes and identify players or team officials who might be using suspected gang signals. Violators would be warned and disciplined if the episodes recurred.
I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, but still. Gang signs? Football? What now?
The article goes on to cite a recent incident involving the Boston Celtic's Paul Pierce making a "menacing gesture" towards the Atlanta Hawks' bench back in April. Of course, in Snobland a menacing gesture is a one-finger-salute, but I'm almost positive that is not what they're talking about here. But, um ... seriously? Gang signs, Roger Goodell?
“We were always suspicious that might be happening,” it quoted Mike Pereira, the NFL’s vice president of officiating, as saying of gang-related signals. “But the Paul Pierce thing is what brought it to light. When he was fined … that’s when we said we need to take a look at it and see if we need to be aware of it.”
While part of me wants to crack a whole lot of jokes here ("What team you claim, son!" or "Doesn't Raider Nation already count as a dangerous street gang?" or "Could this mean Bill Belichick might know who shot Jam Master Jay? Because after Spygate, I'll believe anything about the man.") part of me knows this is really about the continued "mainstreaming" of gang culture.
There is absolutely no reason why any player in the NFL -- from the multi-millionaire superstar to the guy who has to try-out every year -- should be involved in gang activity and I'm going to go out on a limb and say they probably aren't. Even the rough looking ones. They, like millions of other people, have fallen for the hype, the lure, the alleged romance and glamor of "thug life." And it doesn't matter even if you came from a place where their was either:
A) No thug life
B) Full of thug life that destroyed many lives including some of those close to you
People want to "keep it real." And that includes athletes, rappers and goofy high schoolers who have bought the commercialized coolness of "Colors." Back when Los Angeles was awakening to the reality that gangs were the worst thing to ever happen to them, the culture was being popularly exported to the rest of the country via movies and music. How in the hell did the Bloods get to Little Rock, Ark.? Or to Arkansas at all? St. Louis, which had an almost non-existent black gang culture pre-1980s, suddenly had all sorts of set-claiming mofos running about by the 1990s killing folks for Jordans and Starter coats.
Someone thought glamorizing death culture was a good thing ... for business. It's not good for much else. But if you're a music executive or aspiring rap artist, Thug Life is the only life for you. It is so much the life that you'll make up a Thug Lie if it means more record sales (i.e. Akon).
I'd be OK with all this "Hooray for killing black people!" if exporting Thug Life as entertainment was like exporting "Mob Life" as entertainment. I don't know a bunch of Italian American or Irish American kids dropping dead from acting out scenes in "The Departed" and "Scarface," dying while claiming Gambino-side and getting iced in front of the Bada Bing with tats of The Sopranos logo on their chests. But somehow black kids will get on The MySpace, claim Crip, Cripwalk on the YouTube, then get shot while "regular" walking home from school.
From wannabe kiddies with breath still fresh from Similac to frontin' footballers, because so many want to cop the deceptive cool of gang culture the NFL is searching for possible gang signs/activity among their players. It should be a no brainer, but apparently it isn't considering some individuals choose to hang out with people of ill repute at places of ill repute while doing things of ill repute. You have the league making rules like this when players keep getting involved in shooting altercations outside of strip clubs, being murdered or assaulted in robberies or going to the big house for illegal dog fighting.
You know? Basically doing stuff that's way below their pay grade.
So many black people, men and women, work so hard to escape, avoid and rebuke the thug life mythology that it amazes me that there are still individuals who believe degenerative hood mentality is part of "keeping it real." For me, keeping it real would be keeping your rich ass out of trouble and encouraging us broke folk to do the same. Color-me-disappointed, but not surprised that there are enough folks laissez-faire over death culture to not get that maybe it isn't cool to flash some gang signs in the middle of a game.
I don't know how you can embrace something that kills black people, of all ages, across America, everyday, but I'm sure they have some good excuses like "it's all in fun," "it doesn't mean anything," "it's part of my culture," blah, blah, blah ...
I'm sorry that I am so lame as to want black men to not die before they turn 25. I know. That's so not hood. Then not going to prison, living a full life, getting a job, having a family, a future. Seeing potential NOT wasted. Why do I want such things? Such lame, lame wonderful things?
I guess I'm selfish.