Last week on Twitter, former Pitt player Elias Reynolds accused Pat Narduzzi of referring to opponents as "thugs."
On June 8th, Pat Narduzzi released this statement, “I want to address the word ‘thug’ and its use in our program. Simply put, it’s not allowed. Last season, I learned how that word, and what it suggests, has changed. Through our regular discussions in our weekly players’ leadership council, our players shared their feelings on that word. Our program understands it will not be part of our vocabulary.”
Pat Narduzzi's use of the word "thug" didn't come from a place of hatred, but from ignorance. It wasn't overt, intended racism, but it was, at the very least, insensitive.
It seems like Narduzzi has learned his lesson. I think it's an important one. Racism isn't always as obvious as a clansman donning a hood. Racism comes in many shapes and sizes, intended and unintended. Narduzzi is not the only sports figure who is learning right now.
Instead of speaking out against racism, Drew Brees used an interview with Yahoo Business to talk about the flag and the national anthem. He was shouted down because what he said helped detractors move the goalposts in an uncomfortable racial conversation. Brees has apologized, and apologized, and apologized. I think he's done so because he understands that he inadvertently derailed an important conversation.
Broncos head coach Vic Fangio said that he didn't think there was any racism in the NFL, but then had to apologize because his experiences reflect a very narrow minded world view.
Drew Brees wasn't cut from the Saints. Vic Fangio remains employed by the Denver Broncos. Pat Narduzzi wasn't canned as head coach of the Pitt Panthers. Good.
I wrote a blog a few weeks back talking about education. I think that African Americans are currently experiencing their #MeToo movement. Overt racists are going to be outed in the coming days and months. To use an analogy, people like Donald Sterling should be cancelled.
Guys like Narduzzi, Drew Brees, and Vic Fangio? They should be educated about the unintended meaning of their words. They should be taught that their world view doesn't represent the only worldview.