MVP Patrick Mahomes is now part of the legendary black quarterback fraternity

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Patrick Mahomes Chiefs Quarteback Super Bowl

Patrick Mahomes capped a breakthrough season for himself and African-American quarterbacks Saturday night when he was named the NFL’s MVP.

In accepting his award, Mahomes thanked his team, the Kansas City Chiefs, and the team’s organization and told fans, “This is just the beginning, we got a long way to go.”

He could easily have been talking about the continuing evolution of African-American quarterbacks in the NFL.

A record five African-American quarterbacks led their teams into this postseason, though none of them reached the Super Bowl.

Most experts predict that the style and flair with which they play will become a staple in the NFL over the next 10 years.

Mahomes, 23, became the second African-American quarterback to win the NFL’s MVP award outright. Steve McNair shared the award with Peyton Manning in 2003.

He is the youngest quarterback to throw for 50 touchdowns in a season and tied for the youngest to throw for more than 5,000 yards in a season.

Quarterback legends Warren Moon, Doug Williams and James Harris discussed the significance of Mahomes winning the award. They represent three important pillars of the African-American quarterback evolution in the NFL.

In 1969, Harris became the first black quarterback to start the regular season at quarterback; in 1974, he became the first to start a playoff game. Williams became the first black quarterback to win a Super Bowl championship on Jan. 31, 1988.

In 2006, Moon became the first black quarterback to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was the NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 1990 and the AFC Offensive Player of the Year that same year.

Moon, Williams and Harris shared some of what they think about Mahomes’ play this season.

THOUGHTS ABOUT MAHOMES WINNING the MVP AWARD

DOUG WILLIAMS:

“When you think about this league and the quarterbacks who are in this league, for a guy that young to have the season he’s had — and to be consistent. That’s the key: He’s not inconsistent at all. He might have had a bad spot here and there, but you’re talking about a young guy who has picked up on this game probably quicker than anybody I’ve seen in this league — in his second year. … To do what he’s done, it’s incredible.”

WARREN MOON:

“For a kid to be in his first year as a starter and to do something only three guys have done — throw 50 touchdown passes — throw for over 5,000 yards, then lead his team to the AFC championship game, that pretty amazing. Everybody was looking for him to have that rookie nosedive during the season — it never happened. The kid just kept playing. He was consistent the whole year. The sky’s the limit for him. He’s special.”

Continue on to The Undefeated to read the complete article.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Gives Kids a Shot That Can’t be Blocked

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on a stage dressed in a suit smiling

By Brady Rhoades

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — NBA Hall of Famer, best-selling author, renowned columnist, historian, philanthropist— is laser-focused on underprivileged kids.

The key to empowering them?

Education.

Through his Skyhook Foundation and Camp Skyhook, he’s on a mission to give inner city kids a “shot that can’t be blocked” at careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math; many educators have added arts to the concept and use the acronym STEAM).

“The feedback from the kids is always a highlight for me,” he said, in an interview with STEAM Magazine. “They are enthusiastic, grateful, and excited about the experience. Horace Mann once said that ‘a house without books is like a room without windows.’ Before attending Camp Skyhook, many of our students couldn’t see themselves pursuing a STEM-related career. We’re building windows so they can see more possibilities for their future.

“Our students often come from economically disadvantaged neighborhoods,” Abdul-Jabbar continued. “They’re used to running the race of life with weights attached to them. Their shot at equal opportunities — whether in education, jobs, health care, etc. — is blocked by systemic social inequalities. We try to create a path where their shot at life can’t be blocked because of those disadvantages. We’re trying to even the playing field.”

Abdul-Jabbar is so committed to this venture that he’s sold personal memorabilia, such as championship rings and MVP plaques, in order to raise $2.8 million – a portion of which was donated to Camp Skyhook.

“Looking back on what I have done with my life, instead of gazing at the sparkle of jewels or gold plating celebrating something I did a long time ago, I’d rather look into the delighted face of a child holding their first caterpillar and think about what I might be doing for their future,” he said. “That’s a history that has no price.”

Kareem out in community visiting with a young boy in the library
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar out in community visiting with a young boy in the library

So what exactly are the Skyhook Foundation and Camp Skyhook?

The Los Angeles non-profit helps public school students in the city access a free, fun, weeklong STEM education camp in the Angeles National Forest. Every week throughout the year, in cooperation with the Los Angeles Unified School District, groups of fourth and fifth graders attend Camp Skyhook at the Clear Creek Outdoor Education Center. The hands-on science curriculum encourages students to study nature up close. They also get to hike, swim and sing songs around campfires.

Currently, there’s a six-year waiting list for students to get into the camp.

“I’m happy we’re doing what we are, but I’m frustrated because we want to do even more,” said the six-time NBA champion and six-time MVP. “This program gives students STEM-based activities in an environment they rarely experience: the natural world. It also inspires their curiosity and sense of wonder.”

Abdul-Jabbar said it’s paramount to increase opportunities in STEM, especially for minorities.

“African-American men make up only 3 percent of science and engineering occupations versus 49 percent white men,” he said. “Black women have only 2 percent versus 18 percent for white women. Part of the reason is that a STEM education doesn’t seem like a real possibility to many minority children educated in inferior schools. We can turn that around. We have to turn it around.”

One of the iconic photos in UCLA basketball history taken by Norm Levin: Lew Alcindor, the 7-foot-2 big man who would one day wind up as NBA superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, getting all of the ball for a blocked shot against the University of Minnesota on Dec. 27, 1967
One of the iconic photos in UCLA basketball history taken by Norm Levin: Lew Alcindor, the 7-foot-2 big man who would one day wind up as NBA superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, getting all of the ball for a blocked shot against the University of Minnesota on Dec. 27, 1967.

A native of Harlem, Abdul-Jabbar was a three-time NCAA champion and three-time Player of the Year at UCLA, where he played under legendary coach John Wooden.

He played 20 seasons in the NBA for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers. During his career as a center, Abdul-Jabbar was a record 19-time NBA All-Star.

For Lakers fans, he is, perhaps, most beloved for his dominating performance in the 1985 finals against the Boston Celtics. The Lakers broke a decades-long losing streak to the Celtics and Abdul-Jabbar was named finals MVP.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995 and named one of the 50 greatest players in league history in 1996. A statue showing him wielding the greatest weapon in basketball annals – the skyhook – was unveiled outside of Staples Center in 2012.

Since his stellar professional career, he has gone on to become a celebrated New York Times-bestselling author, a filmmaker, and a columnist for The Guardian and the Hollywood Reporter. He writes insightful and in-depth columns about pop culture and social justice.

His curiosity is nothing less than feral.

Did you know he’s huge fan of Sherlock Holmes, and his latest writing project — co-authored by Anna Waterhouse — is a mystery novel? It’s called Mycroft and Sherlock, The Empty Birdcage.

On top of all that, President Barack Obama awarded him the Medal

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from former President Barack Obama.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from former President Barack Obama.

of Freedom in 2016.

“I can do more than stuff a ball through a hoop,” he said. “My mind is my greatest asset.”

The same can be said of the children he’s helping, even if they don’t know it yet.

The Skyhook Foundation — the website for information and donations at https://skyhookfoundation.org/ — is demonstrably effective. Did you think for a second Abdul-Jabbar wouldn’t track the results?

“We know it’s effective because our follow-up research shows that students have increased interest in science, engineering and the environment,” he said. “In practical terms, it means they take more science classes and feel more confident in the classroom asking and answering questions. Former participants who are now adults tell us this was their most memorable elementary school experience.”

It’s widely agreed-upon that Abdul-Jabbar’s skyhook was unstoppable—virtually unblockable. He shot thousands upon thousands of them, and tallied 38,387 points in his career. He is the greatest scorer in the history of professional basketball. Nobody’s ever re-created that magnificent hook shot.

Abdul-Jabbar’s message to kids: Develop a shot that can’t be blocked.

The game of life is played on a surface supremely larger than the 94-x-50-foot chunk of wood hoops players play on.

The winning play? Give yourself a shot to be an all-star in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.

Simone Biles Makes History by Nailing Two Signature Moves — and One Is Now Named After Her

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Simone Biles posing on gymnatict floormat after performance smiling with hand in the air

Simone Biles has done it again!

The decorated gymnast made history on Saturday at the world championships in Stuttgart, Germany, by successfully landing the triple-double during her floor routine and then the double-double dismount on the balance beam.

The moves earned Biles, 22, huge applause from the audience. USA Gymnastics confirmed on Twitter that the impressive feat ensures the triple-double will be named the Biles II, in honor of the athlete.

Biles already has two moves named for her, one in the floor exercise and one on a vault, according to CNN.

Last week, the gymnast explained why she refrains from calling herself a “superstar” gymnast despite her incredible success.

“If I were to label myself as a superstar, it would bring more expectations on me and I would feel pressured, more in the limelight, rather than now,” Biles explained during a press conference before the 2019 FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Germany.

“I just go out there and compete,” she added. “I try to represent Simone… not ‘Simone Biles’ whenever I go out there, because at the end of the day, I’m still a human being before I’m ‘Simone Biles, the superstar.’”

Continue on to People to read the complete article.

LL COOL J hosts his 15th Annual Jump & Ball Youth Camp

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LL Cool J posing the Jump Ball team

Over the weekend, LL COOL J returned to his hometown in Queens to host the closing ceremonies of the 15th Annual Jump & Ball Community Camp. LL was greeted by the more than 200 youth who participated in the month long camp and residents of the neighborhood where he grew up.

Launched in 2005 by LL COOL J, Jump & Ball is a free and fun-filled camp every Saturday & Sunday during the month of August for hundreds of kids from Southeast Queens.

The program was developed as an opportunity for the kids in the community to not only learn the game of basketball but also learn team building and leadership skills critical to life off the court.

LL has always been an avid philanthropist involved in numerous causes including literacy for kids as well as music and arts programs in schools. Celebrating its 15th Anniversary this year, LL’s charity “Jump & Ball” – which takes place every August in his hometown of Queens, New York – aims to give back to his local community by offering a five-week athletic and team building program dedicated to bringing wholesome fun to young people.

Guests enjoyed lie music courtesy of Rock the Bells, LL COOL J’s curated Sirius XM channel featuring classic hip hop, a special performance by the Harlem Globetrotters, free food, free back to school haircuts and more.

LL and youth at Jump and Ball

Looking to Be the First Woman in the NFL

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Toni Harris headshot

Antoinette “Toni” Harris aims to be the first woman to play in the National Football League (NFL). “If it doesn’t happen, I can just pave the way for another little girl to come out and play, or even start a women’s NFL,” Harris said in a recent interview with NBC News, following her decision to sign with the Central Methodist University football team. Harris, a 5-foot-7 free safety, is on track to become the first female football player in school history as well as the first female skill position player to sign a letter of intent to play college football on a scholarship.

Harris chose Central Methodist over five other offers. “I picked Central Methodist because of the resilience within the school itself and how Coach Calloway had been communicating with me,” Harris said.

The endeavoring NFL player gained national notoriety after starring in a Super Bowl commercial for Toyota earlier this month and has been interviewed by the likes of CNN, NBC News, and Sports Illustrated. She spent two seasons at East Los Angeles College and says she felt Coach Calloway had her best interest at heart during the recruiting process.

“Sometimes you have to pick and choose,” said Harris. “I feel that Central Methodist will be the perfect place for me.”

Sources: becauseofthemwecan.com, cmueagles.com

The Repair of Diversity in Baseball: Black Representation in the Major Leagues

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The beginning of the Major League baseball season has finally arrived. Fans are piling into stadiums to watch their favorite baseball teams take the field for the 2019 season. Baseball is considered as ‘America’s Pastime’ being created on American soil and one of the nation’s oldest sport. However, there is a blaring disconnect between “the old ballgame” and African-American participants.

Baseball has the smallest percentage of baseball players between the three major professional sports. The total percentage of African-American players is under 8% compared to the NBA’s 75%, and the NFL’s 64%. Although some of baseball’s greatest players are black, (ex: Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Bob Gibson, Ken Griffey Jr.) there seems to be a lack of interest with the game of baseball in black communities. There are a few theories to why this has taken place.

Baltimore Oriole’s all-star outfielder Adam Jones fills in on his belief in this detachment between blacks and baseball. “The decisions made in baseball are white made decisions. The league has experimented with various rule changes to speed up pace of play and reach younger fans, but the racial politics of baseball are the most in need of an update,” claims Jones. Simply put, Jones feels the league can do a better job connecting with African-American social issues as the other sports have made a priority.

The NBA has carried out numerous social justice initiatives including ‘Black Lives Matter’ t-shirts and supportive gear representing unlawful deaths of black men by police. The NFL has had its dilemmas with social justice problems as well. Colin Kaepernick is famous for his decision to kneel during the National Anthem at NFL events. This trend started a wave of players following suit and kneeling for the National Anthem as well, which later sparked a mass discussion via social media and news platforms around the nation. Although the NFL has made clear their unsupportive for the act, baseball has ‘pleaded the fifth’ when it comes to social issues. Baseball is a very traditional sport and bringing off the field racial tension is to be avoided at all cost. Seems like a fair option for leaders in the sport, however African-American players feel voiceless in expressing social issues regarding their culture. Speaking out as an African-American baseball players comes off as disrespectful to the game.

Another take to the disconnection of African-Americans and baseball is the simple fact is baseball is just too boring. As a black man and a former baseball player, I can advocate to this theory. Watching a basketball game that experiences hundreds of possessions per game and is extremely fast-paced is simply more interesting than a four hour baseball game that ends 2-1. Contrarily, black athletes can bring an element to the game of baseball that sparks excitement. There is a plethora of talent in urban areas, however baseball is a very expensive game to play. “Travel baseball averages out to $3,700 per year. But families can pay upward of $8,000 if they opt for extra training services and play in out-of-state tournaments—travel costs are the biggest determining factor here. Your child’s equipment and uniform typically cost $200 to $500.” (US TODAY SPORTS). These prices are just simply unaffordable for a talented youth baseball player coming out of an inner city area.

To contrast this glowing error in the economics of youth baseball, Major League Baseball has funded the RBI Program (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities). “The program was founded in 1989 in South Central Los Angeles by former MLB player and scout John Young to help increase inner-city involvement in baseball. Today, more than 200,000 kids a year from underserved communities around all 30 MLB Clubs participate in the program.” This program’s initiative is to draw attention to the many talented athletes in our urban communities that do not have the resources and scouting to play at the highest level. The program was the discovery point for many Major League Baseball players today like Some great players have played in RBI leagues, like Carl Crawford,”Coco” Crisp, James Loney, Jimmy Rollins, CC Sabathia, Yovani Gallardo, Justin Upton, and James McDonald.

With the funding and growth of initiatives like the RBI program, there is hope that many more of our talented African-American baseball players will have the opportunity to represent their culture at the highest level of baseball and change the diversity statistics of Major League Baseball.

(via Business Insider)

Brian Flores Ready To Join Dolphins’ All-Black Leadership Team

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Not sure if the NFL has ever had a minority head coach from Brownsville, Brooklyn, but New England Patriots defensive play-caller Brian Flores will fit that mold when he assumes the head coaching position with the Miami Dolphins.

Flores is a living example that the American Dream is still very much alive.

Once highly-touted defensive coordinator Matt Patricia left to become head coach of the Detroit Lions after the Patriots lost to Philadelphia in the Super Bowl, Flores was awarded the defensive play-calling responsibilities in addition to his job as linebackers coach. He had huge shoes to fill.

On Sunday, Flores, the son of immigrant parents from Honduras, had the kind of slam dunk final interview that a hunch could never satisfy.

“You don’t get to be defensive signal caller under Bill Belichick unless you know your stuff,” NFL sideline announcer Tracy Wolfson said in a flattering appraisal of Flores’ efforts during the Patriots’ 41-28 thrashing of the LA Chargers in Sunday’s AFC Divisional Playoff game.

The Patriots defense stifled the No. 6 scoring offense in the league behind a variety of blitz packages and defensive alignments. Now Flores and the Patriots will look to suppress the Chiefs offense, who finished No. 1 in the league in 2018.

Dolphins owner Steve Ross and general manager Chris Grier have seen enough. They intend to offer their vacant head coaching position to Brooklyn native.

Despite the owners’ whitewashing of the NFL head coaching ranks, the Dolphins seem to be on a progressive plane of their own. Miami would be the only NFL team to have a black/Hispanic coach, black general manager and assistant GM. Grier will remain the GM next season and Miami just hired former Buffalo Bills scout Marvin Allen to assist him.

For the complete article, continue on to The Shadow League.

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