Football and 'The Slave Side of Sunday'
ED GORDON, host:
Prejudice in the NFL isn't limited to sexual preference. 65% of the active NFL players are black, yet there are no African American owners, and the number of black coaches in the league is still relatively small. Former NFL cornerback Anthony Prior says this is because there is deep seated racism in the league, in his new book, 'The Slave Side of Sunday.' Prior draws comparisons between the grid iron and the slave plantation. He joins us now from his home in California. One note, we invited a representative of the NFL to appear on the program as well to talk about this; we did not receive a call back. Mr. Prior, thanks for joining us.
Many people are going to say it's hard to compare slaves to guys who are making millions and millions of dollars annually. But you suggest, in spite of all of that, players have no say.
Mr. ANTHONY PRIOR (Former NFL Player and Author): No, they don't. They have no say. Understand that, human life is priceless. But as an athlete or a slave, you can put a price tag on their value. But when their value is diminished, they're thrown away just like the slaves are thrown away on the plantations. You either lynch them, you cut them, humiliate them, and you destroy their image.
GORDON: What do you say to those who say it's the players fault that you should stand up and demand you certainly have a choice, perhaps more so than ever before because of the riches that are afforded?
Mr. PRIOR: They got to understand this too, you know, there's athletic slavery going on in the black community today. It's a fundamentally imposed characteristic that says, without sports as a right of passage you will amount to nothing. And players are becoming undeveloped when they don't get a chance to make it into the NFL. When that doesn't happen, players are having criminal records. You're having Maurice Clarett, great athlete on the field, but then off the field, Sunday afternoon, Sunday morning, 2:00 in the morning, you're having a gun to somebody's head. That's an undeveloped man.
GORDON: What of those who suggest that athletes are just too afraid to lose money rather than just stand up? We saw Warren Sapp, a superstar, able to say that he likened it to a plantation. But many believe if you saw a collective voice, it would do better.
Mr. PRIOR: Absolutely. With the assembly of black players, we can transcend the game. From 1934 to 1945, blacks were banned from the industry; and then from 1946, they have taken it to a billion dollar plus market, yet we have no voice within the industry. The NFL owners are guaranteed profits annually, yet we have no guaranteed contracts. We're the record breakers and the trendsetters, yet we have no owner in the industry, and that' something that needs to be addressed.
GORDON: Certainly, that debate goes on and on. The book is called 'The Slave Side of Sunday,' the author, former NFL cornerback, Anthony Prior. Mr. Prior, thanks for joining us. I appreciate it.
Mr. PRIOR: Thank you.
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