I’m old enough to remember when the wishbone was the premier running play in college football. Teams like Notre Dame, Nebraska, UCLA and Navy ran the wishbone offense to perfection. All that was needed to run the wishbone was decent blocking from the offensive line, a good running back and a good running back that could reasonably pass for a quarterback. For the upper echelon teams, it was an offensive scheme that was completely unstoppable.
But times have changed and most college teams run pro-style offenses. Why? Because the game is different today than it was 15 years ago. The players are faster, stronger, bigger and more athletic. The defensive schemes are more complex. The game is sophisticated and players actually study the offense of their opponents. In the pro game, the wishbone was never an option for the very reason it is seldom used in the today’s college game. Times change and strategies have to change with them.
This is the very reason you will never see brotha James marching. Me march, for what? This past weekend The Millions More Movement was held in Washington DC to commemorate the ten-year anniversary of the Million Man March. Now, I admit, I really wanted to go the Million Man March but I ended up watching it on television. It was a moving moment for me. To see a million black men get together charged with the responsibility for going back home and making a difference in their communities – that was a powerful message that needed to go forth. It is part of the reason I got involved with a mentoring program in my neighborhood.
But the Civil Rights game has changed and its time that black folks rewrite the playbook. It’s time we develop think tanks like the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation. It’s time to develop black mentoring programs for future black CEO’s, politicians and community activist. It’s time we take advantage of what media access we do have and develop a counter-culture to the booty slappin’, gangsta rappin, bling bling images we see now. It's time we start thinkiing in global terms but act in local terms.
The amazing thing about sports is that its lessons and strategies are applicable to our lives in general. The West Coast Offense and the Tampa Two Defense are the premiere football strategies in the professional game. Bill Walsh was the master of the West Coast Offense and his subordinates have gone on to become successful coaches. The West Coast Offense family tree is a who’s who in NFL coaching. Holgren, Fisher, Shannahan, Rhodes, Mariucci, Billick and a host of others stem from the Bill Walsh offensive philosophy.
Within the structure of a football franchise, there is the owner that and general manager that oversea the long-term finacial and personell aspects of the team. Then there is the coaches and assistant coaches the devise the strategy from week to week. Then there are the players that are charged with executing the plan and perfecting their individual skills at their position.
If the black community is to ever rise above its current state, then a new playbook is in order. Marching is like the Wishbone options. Today’s players are too strong and fast and the defensive schemes that hinder the black community are too complex for us to run the wishbone. What is needed is a philosophy based on developing leaders in politics, business and education while building institutions that provide an intellectual training ground for those individuals as well as people involved in community activism. We need a new offense that takes advantage fast defenses that tend to overpursue. We need to create matchup problems. There are very few linemen that can stay with a wide receiver. And those matchups can be created if we recognize the defense and place the right player in the slot to take advantage of the lineup.
It is not so much as implementing WEB DuBois’ “Talented Tenth” whereby the black community is saved by the exceptional among us, but a way of strategically placing men in and woman in positions of power that hold a particular philosophy when in comes to uplifting black people. Conservatives did this and now they control the House, the Senate, the White House, most state governorships and is now poised to change the ideological leanings of the Supreme Court.
There is nothing like a good tailgate party before the game. So I understand that we need occasions to rile up the fan base. Get them excited and pumped before the game. In high school, I attended a pep rally that was held before our game against Richards High School. It was the best pep rally that I’ve ever seen. We were hyped. The coaches were hyped. The teachers were hyped. The school turned out in force to support their gridiron soldiers. It was an exciting moment… until the referee blew the whistle signaling the beginning of the game. At that point, Richards pulled out an ugly stick and beat the living crap out of us. It would not be an exaggeration to say we were lucky to have lost the game by only 50 points.
So, we’ve had our Million Man March and Million More Movement – now it’s game time. We have a fan base, but do we have a strategy for the game? Those are not conceived at pep rallies and marches. They are well thought out plans made after studying the opponents, drafting the proper talent and teaching execution. So forgive me if I’m not all that excited about a march. I’m too busy worrying about the game.