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Opportunities: Given or created? Jason Whitlock, Warren Sapp, and Marshall Faulk debate black victimhood in the NFL

Opportunities: Given or created? Jason Whitlock, Warren Sapp, and Marshall Faulk debate black victimhood in the NFL

Victimhood has in recent years become rather seductive, as it often leads to sympathy and increased opportunities, especially considering the DEI initiatives in place in institutions, big and small, across the country.

But are these initiatives actually helpful? Do they do what they’re allegedly supposed to do and give a boost to people who actually need it? Or do they just perpetuate the victim mentality? Do they create a culture of mediocrity and handouts?

This concept within the framework of football was the subject of Jason Whitlock, Warren Sapp, and Marshall Faulk’s conversation.

The trio specifically talked about former black players remaining in the NFL in high-up, or “front office,” positions after their player careers come to an end.

“Once you’re done, you’re done,” says Faulk. “Other than calling games and working in television, you're not seeing a lot of former players highlighted.”

Whitlock thinks this lack of opportunity for former black NFL players is a direct result of having the wrong mentality.

“What’s your mentality when you’re done?” he asks. “If it’s not, ‘What can I bring to the league or to my former team,’ your mentality is wrong.”

Faulk disagrees, pointing to racial barriers as the primary reason such opportunities are rare.

“I’m not disagreeing with you, but the opportunity has to be there,” he says. “If the opportunity was there, they wouldn’t be putting all these diversity / inclusion” measures into place, such as the Rooney Rule, which is an NFL policy requiring league teams to interview ethnic-minority candidates for head coaching and senior football positions.

“If the opportunity was just opportunity, and it was equal, then we wouldn't need none of these things in place,” he continues.

But Whitlock, sticking to his guns, assures it’s because “former black athletes” have the “wrong mentality.”

He points to Warren Sapp’s career, recalling how he “wanted to go out and create his own opportunities” on the field during his playing career, and clearly, it served him well, as it landed him in the Hall of Fame.

“That dog mentality that made you a great football player has to take over in real life,” says Whitlock, “and it's about creating opportunities for yourself.”

“I came from nothing,” he explains, and “I created opportunities my whole life.”

For example, one of the first opportunities he created was taking the only newspaper job he could get, which paid a slim $5 an hour.

“I created [the opportunity],” he tells Sapp and Faulk.

“No, no, no, they gave you $5 to do the job,” says Faulk. “You took the opportunity [because] the space was open.”

“Remember, there was Warren Sapp before Warren Sapp, [but] we just didn't know,” he explains, because “he couldn't go to Miami back when they wouldn't draft him in the NFL.”

“And you know who created those opportunities?” Whitlock counters. “Sam Bam Cunningham. They went down and ran over Alabama, and everybody started saying, ‘I need to get me some black players.”’

“No, the opportunity was created once they realized, ‘Oh sh**, they can play at this level,”’ retorts Faulk.

But for Whitlock, black people have been creating opportunities for themselves since they were brought over to this country.

“No one gave us freedom from slavery,” he says. “We went out and took that, but black, white people, believers — whatever. People died for that; it wasn't given, it was created. ... America's about what you're willing to go take and create.”

Whichever side of the conversation you fall on, their debate is fascinating, full of interesting points on both sides, and well worth watching. Check it out for yourself below.

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