Sometimes it’s less about what is said and more about what is implied.
That’s the issue with the words Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien supposedly used in an alleged sit down with former Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, according to ESPN’s Michael Irvin.
“And from there, the meeting just deteriorated, you know. He got into talking about DeAndre Hopkins. DeAndre Hopkins has a few kids from different women, and he said, he told DeAndre he doesn’t like that he has his ‘baby mamas’ around sometimes. And from that, I think the relationship just went bad, and thus, we got a trade of DeAndre Hopkins from Houston for basically, like I said earlier, a ham sandwich, all because of that relationship.”
Irvin relayed this information Wednesday morning during a segment of ESPN’s “Get Up,” when discussing what could have led to O’Brien shipping arguably the best wide receiver in the league to the Arizona Cardinals for basically nothing. O’Brien also supposedly called the meeting because he felt that Hopkins had too much influence in the locker room, which led to him mentioning that it was the first time it had happened since he coached Aaron Hernandez in New England.
This situation does spark a legitimate question.
How come we never hear about white athlete’s baby mamas?
Matt Leinart has one.
Brian Urlacher does as well.
Could you even imagine a world in which actress Bridget Moynahan’s career was minimized and belittled to just being “Tom Brady’s baby mama”?
I think not.
The issue with terms like “baby mama” is that it’s coded language dipped in racism. We know what you mean and what you’re trying to say because we’ve been here before. Especially in sports.
We just dealt with this a few months ago when former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach John Beilein stunned a mostly all-black roster during a film session when he said that they were no longer playing “like a bunch of thugs.” Beilein would later reach out to players insisting he meant to use the word “slugs.”
That’s a “slip of the tongue” you can’t come back from, given that thug has always been a covert way of using the N-word.
Something similar happened back in 2016 when then-New York Knicks President Phil Jackson referred to LeBron James’ friends/business partners who are black as his “posse.” Words like “thug” and “posse” are parts of a coded language that are used every day in our society, as they seem to only be directed at those that can be described as “urban.”
We see it every year during the NFL and NBA Drafts. Because when a football player’s athleticism is discussed, and not his intellect, you can guarantee he’s black. And if a basketball player is described as a “gamer” or a “hard worker” or a “gym rat” or “competitor” or “deceptively quick” or has “surprising athleticism,” he’s always going to be white.
“This is being blown way out of proportion. As I’ve said before, I enjoyed and am proud of my time with the Texans. I have the utmost respect for Coach O’Brien and that will not change. Now, I’m ready to play for the Cardinals,” Hopkins tweeted later in the day. But the can of worms had already been opened.
People of color can spend hours discussing the number of stereotypes and microaggressions they have to deal with, and the mental fatigue that comes along with it.
And if you’re wondering, these things aren’t just limited to sports.
Because while the sports world was talking and tweeting about Irvin, Hopkins, and O’Brien, President Trump was on TV stereotyping an entire race of people by calling COVID-19, “the Chinese Virus”.
Words matter. Use the correct ones.