Whitlock: ‘What about’ Brett Favre and Ime Udoka? They’re trapped by America’s racial idolatry

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Entitlement binds Brett Favre and Ime Udoka. Nothing else.

For the past 48 hours, since NBA reporters Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania dropped the news of Udoka’s workplace malfeasance, social media pundits have desperately tried to place the Hall of Fame quarterback and the Celtics’ head coach in the What Aboutism Racial Blender. It’s the no-risk gadget of choice for low-IQ influencers looking for Twitter street cred. It works nearly every time.

Here’s some background:

THE SECOND WAVE

The Boston Celtics announced late Thursday night that they suspended Udoka for the entire 2022-23 season because he violated the team’s personal conduct policy. Reports allege that Udoka participated in an inappropriate, consensual sexual relationship with a female staff member. Favre has been in the news of late because of his alleged role in a Mississippi welfare scheme that tried to funnel $5 million to a volleyball facility at his alma mater, Southern Mississippi, where his daughter played.

Udoka is a basketball coach. Favre is a retired NFL player. The stories are seemingly unrelated. But given the fact that Udoka is black and Favre is white, Twitter rewards its users and high-profile influencers for connecting the two events.

Failed NFL quarterback turned ESPN broadcaster Robert Griffin III flipped the switch early Thursday morning:

“If you are more upset about Ime Udoka and the Celtics situation than Brett Favre STEALING MILLIONS IN WELFARE MONEY FROM THE POOREST PEOPLE IN OUR COUNTRY IN MISSISSIPPI then you are part of the problem.”

The nonsensical tweet has nearly 150,000 likes and 30,000 retweets. Thanks to the dopamine coursing through his brain, RG3 has every right to believe he tweeted something profound and logically sound. Like all social media apps, Twitter rewards idiocy.

No one – outside Nia Long, Celtics employees, and fans – is upset about Ime Udoka’s misbehavior and misfortune. Sports fans are fascinated. Udoka’s implosion feels unprecedented, borderline historic. Based on what we’ve been told so far, we’ve never seen an organization torch a successful head coach over consensual sex a week before the start of training camp.

Add in Boston’s elevated and celebrated status within the NBA, and the Udoka story captivates the way the daytime soap-opera marriage of Luke and Laura did 41 years ago on “General Hospital.” Thirty million viewers tuned in to that wedding. The daytime soap craze expired more than a decade ago. The soaps have been replaced by an army of talk shows that rely on messy reality-TV storylines. Udoka delivered one.

But I digress.

Griffin’s real agenda is to deflect attention away from a black public figure caught with his pants down. This is the national pastime of Twitter and corporate media pundits chasing likes, retweets, followers, and racial virtue courtesy of the app’s rigged algorithms.

For maximum relevance, Twitter requires users to analyze every human engagement through a racial lens. The requirement has perverted and dumbed down public discourse, divided Americans along racial lines, and blinded us to the truth.

The forced racial pretzel featuring Favre and Udoka provides a perfect example of Twitter’s corrosive impact.

We shouldn’t be asking, “What about Favre?” Race plays no role in people’s disparate interests or the media’s current coverage of Udoka and Favre. Retired players who have yet to be charged with a crime aren’t nearly as interesting as the current head coach of an NBA title contender. No one spent much time discussing Clinton Portis, Joe Horn, or a dozen other former NFL players defrauding a health care retirement fund for NFL players.

We should be talking about the sense of entitlement pervasive among athletes and other celebrities because of our culture’s out-of-control idolatry.

Entitlement explains the behavior of Favre, Udoka, Portis, and virtually all of America’s celebrities.

Why would Brett Favre, a man who earned more than $200 million on and off the field, allegedly attempt to financially benefit from welfare fraud in his home state of Mississippi?

He feels entitled. The world has catered to his every desire since he became a star at Southern Miss. He never waits in line for a table. Restaurants comp his meals and drinks. Women seek him out. Coaches, administrators, executives, agents, and well-wishers clean up his mistakes. Television broadcasters, radio hosts, and sports writers minimized his transgressions in exchange for access.

The TV networks wanted an on-field John Wayne to drive ratings, so they rewarded the people who did the best job of celebrating and worshiping Favre. Favre was an American Idol. No different from Michael Jordan.

We created Frankensteins.

The only thing that has really changed is our desperation to create the next batch of unwitting monsters and the number of media platforms with laboratories. We’ve gone from four TV networks to 300, local newspapers to thousands of blogs, local radio stations to thousands of podcasts, a handful of skilled tastemakers (John Madden, Howard Cosell, Bob Costas, Chris Berman, etc.) to a million hacks pontificating across the internet.

Entitlement drove Udoka to act in a way that damaged his career and may eventually cost him his job. He’s been catered to, too. He’s a former athlete. It doesn’t matter that he never reached professional stardom. I was a mediocre mid-major football player in the 1980s. I was catered to in high school and college. I wrestled with entitlement. As an adult, it took a reawakening of my faith to fully slay my sense of entitlement.

Corporate media tells black people to feel entitled. In the past 24 hours, Stephen A. Smith and many other sports media members have tried to paint Udoka as a victim. Without any proof, Smith and others have claimed the Boston Celtics leaked the Udoka story.

The allegation makes zero sense. The far more likely scenario is that Udoka and his handlers leaked the story to try to influence Boston’s punishment. Honestly, I don’t even believe the narrative that has been presented. Successful coaches do not get suspended/fired over a case of consensual workplace sex. There’s far more to this story than we’ll likely ever know.

What I do know is that Udoka acted selfishly and irresponsibly. It’s not surprising. He and Favre exist in the bubble of entitlement and idolatry we constructed for all athletes and celebrities.

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