First . . .
If Twitter existed in 1983, when I was Josh Allen’s age, I probably would have spent less time squeezing blackheads, playing air guitar and reading the little paperback, Truly Tasteless Jokes.
I worked in a bookstore at the Hanover Mall and that compilation of racial, ethnic, disabled, homophobic, anti-Semitic and mind-bogglingly offensive jokes (there was a subsection of dead baby jokes) was a runaway New York Times bestseller. In fact, it was top-selling paperback in the country that year.
Growing up in a not-especially-diverse area, I was at a remove from the people these jokes were most offensive to.
They were just jokes, just words. I could laugh at jokes about the Irish or about Catholics, even as my mother went bananas any time a nun or priest was lampooned. Having a little sense of humor, being able to laugh at oneself, mocking stereotypes with outrageous humor; I guess that’s the way I viewed the jokes.
I didn’t know what I didn’t know. But I did know enough not to walk around the house with it. It was hidden next to other reading material under my bed.
The success of the first book spawned imitators and led to think-pieces, none of which I read. If I had, maybe this quote from a July, 1983 NYT article may have sunk in.
''There is a lot to make fun of, but not the foibles of human beings who have already suffered a lot,'' said John Hope Franklin, who is the James B. Duke Professor of History at Duke University. ''We should be coming to grips with the dignity of the human spirit, not embarrassing or shaming whole groups of people. The success of these so-called joke books is a sad testament to the taste of this country.''
Or this one from Jacqueline G. Wexler, then-president of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, said: ''I think it's the most wholesome thing in the world when ethnic groups laugh at themselves. But it's dangerous when someone else does it to you, because almost always there's an element of denigration.''
My point, as it relates to Allen, is that when you’re 16 your world doesn’t extend much past the end of your nose. You know right from wrong, sure, but you may not deeply and intimately know why something is truly “wrong” because you haven’t yet developed empathy.
Thirty-three years later (holy crap), among the tens of thousands of people I have friends, co-workers, relatives -- people I love and respect deeply -- from all sorts of racial, ethnic and religious groups. I can attach faces and feelings to the people those jokes references and I laughed at. When you really reflect on it, it’s embarrassing.
I’ve turned out mostly OK on most days. I imagine that, despite his tweets from 2012 and 2013, Josh Allen will as well.
1. Check out the walk-up song for every prospect who made the trip to be at the first round in person tonight. Five Drake songs were requested by the 22 prospects who’ll be in the room. There are zero for Oingo Boingo.
2. Peter King wouldn’t have theorized as vividly about the Bill Belichick-Rob Gronkowski-Drew Rosenhaus confab if he wasn’t really plugged in on what went down. And King theorized that Gronk came in from the woods in an effort to prevent being traded. Adam Schefter’s tweet saying that “there will be no trade this season” is iron-clad as well. And those assurances, in my opinion, are vital for Gronk for two reasons. First, the perception that the team was fixing to deal him this offseason has been lurking for months. Second, Gronk does not want to be separated from Tom Brady.
3. Gronk’s allusion to his workouts, how terrific he feels and his “pliability” underscore once again that he feels it’s important to remind everyone how he’s working out and who he’s working out with while he’s been away. I think Alex Guerrero’s great and Gronk’s results (not to mention Brady’s) speak for themselves. Beating everyone over the head with it at every opportunity does nothing to mend the wounds that have clearly opened between Guerrero’s program and the one espoused by Bill Belichick and strength coach Moses Cabrera. Enough.
4. The release of rapper Meek Mill this week and the remora-like attachment to the cause from Sixers owner Michael Rubin (and, by extension, Robert Kraft) brought to mind the essay by Tom Wolfe from 1970, Radical Chic. All I know about the case is what I’ve read and that means I know that the judge, Genece Brinkley, seems to be loving the celebrity this has generated. But Wolfe’s essay, which details a 1966 dinner at Leonard Bernstein’s New York apartment in which the city’s ultra-elite hobnobbed with Black Panthers in bizarrely cloying fashion, reminds me of Kraft talking outside the Pennsylvania prison after a recent visit. I mean . . . why?
5. Time invested on a prospect is no guarantee of a team being “sold” on a player. In fact, if a team meets multiple times with a prospect, it’s almost a guarantee there are unresolved issues (injury, character, communication skills) that need further investigation. The report that the Patriots met twice with Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson was viewed as evidence the Pats are hot on his trail. And they may be. The talent and character are there and so is the upside. The level of accuracy and how his skills will translate and develop when running an NFL offense will be developing. There’s boom-or-bust all over him. Here’s a list of players the Patriots hosted in Foxboro (it’s not complete but an interesting read) .
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