Cincinnati Bengals

Rolando McClain and the Raiders ‘stereotype’

I’m a pretty even-keeled guy (no matter what Stan says). If ever I am thrown off my equilibrium, I usually wallow in the dark end of my emotional spectrum, not in the red. This is not to say that anger and I are strangers. We are not. Suffice it to say anger and I have crossed paths on a few occasions, usually when I’m at my worst.

In case you’re wondering, I am at my worst when playing adult softball (my stats have been preserved online).

Most of the time, those who lack the requisite dexterity are hidden behind the plate or in right field. This is probably where I should have been. But given that I was the team manager (handling funding and such), I manned first base. My inner child was thrilled – Will The Thrilled, actually. My outer-adult was anything but.

I fielded the position well enough, so long as the fielding did not include grounders, fly balls, or errant throws. The bigger issue was my hitting, or lack thereof. Though I dominated the pitching machine at the local batting cage, come game time I would choke worse than George W. Bush in a pretzel factory.

My repeated failures combined with my competitive spirit turned a once fun game into a chore. Were it not for my teammates, I would have spared myself the weekly embarrassments. But I did not quit, opting instead to allow my frustration to swell.

Unfortunately, frustration is like a gas: It expands to fill its container. During my last game, the volume of my frustration was at its limit. So when I made my trademark mistake, I snapped, for lack of a better term.

I was playing first base. The batter rolled the ball to the shortstop, who promptly fielded it and threw it in my proximity. Bad news. Proximal throws required me to leave the bag, so that I could use my body as a backstop. And so leaving the bag, I scooped up the ball and returned to first ahead of the runner. I then proceeded to touch the bag twice (for good measure) before the runner finally crossed.

Imagine my surprise when the umpire shouted, “SAFE!”

“Are you serious?” I ask—I’m omitting at least three curse words here.

As I ask this, I throw the ball down. The ball, because it is a ball, rebounds with in equal opposite, brushing my face. This of course drew laughter from everybody but me.

Enraged, I charged the pint-sized umpire and attempted to goad him into a fight using a lethal combination of second person pronouns and profane adjectives. The fight never manifested, however, as he opted to ban me from the league instead.

Noticing the stalemate, I turn to walk away, and as I am turning, I hear myself shout a derogatory slur. The crowd is quiet. The players are quiet. The ump is quiet. All that exists is the echo of the slur, filling air like a gas fills its container. When I hear myself shout it, I immediately regret it. I am immediately shocked by my behavior.

As I gathered my belongings, I realize the only way to my car is through centerfield. I was forced to make what was the longest, most humbling trek of my life. It was a green mile, if you will. My last game of adult softball, and the last time I’ve let my frustration best me.

We all make mistakes. It is the contrition for those mistakes that prove the person, not the mistakes themselves. This is what makes Rolando McClain’s actions so appalling (and you thought this story wasn’t going anywhere).

Granted, my actions hardly compare to that of McClain and his co-defendant Jarodiaus Willingham. There is an obvious difference between the verbal assault of an umpire and the phyiscal assault of Rishard Tapscott — not to mention the other charges which McClain was found guilty of: Reckless endangerment, menacing and wrongful discharge of a firearm. But the most glaring difference is our respective atonement.

Rolando McClain: Master of Delusions

The now infamous photo of a grinning in handcuffs proved his arrogance. But his most recent apology proves his delusion.

“I apologize for the bad publicity that has been put out there,” he said.

What McClain fails to understand is that the “bad publicity” has not just been “put out there” by the bad publicity fairy. No, any reasonable adult would conclude that his or her actions resulted in the media attention and the guilty charge.

But McClain is no reasonable adult. Tapscott’s statement to the police proves this.

In his statement to the police, Tapscott described himself as an unknowing victim, who was belittled and abused by both Willingham and McClain. Of McClain’s involvement, Tapscott was especially descriptive, noting that McClain instigated much of the fighting.

I sat on the couch in the living room by myself and talked on the phone. After a few minutes, Michael opened the door and asked me if I had a lighter. I told him no. He shut the door, then Rolando opened the door and said, “Come outside. Tweezy said he’s gonna beat you up.” I told him I wasn’t going to fight him.

Following the altercation with Willingham, Tapscott retrieved a box cutter from his car. This, according to Tapscott provoked McClain to use his firearm.

“Rolando pulled out his gun and started walking up to me, pointing the gun at me … (And then) Rolando fired the gun beside my head, by my left ear. I thought at first that I had been shot. My left ear was ringing and I couldn’t hear. I ducked down. When I raised back up, Rolando was still pointing the gun at my face.”

Then, Tapscott tried to reclaim his belongings from the house, but McClain refused to let him. Instead, McClain continued the abuse.

I went up to the house to get my stuff from Michael. I said, “Bring my stuff out.” I heard Rolando say something like, “No, don’t take it out there.” I stepped into the front door and Rolando punched me in the face. I fell back against the wall. I was woozy. I told Michael to give me my stuff, that I was going to go. Rolando said, “Well, you ain’t going nowhere. You about to fight me or you about to fight Tweezy.” I told him I wasn’t fighting no more. Rolando told me I had five seconds to decide.

By this time, the police had arrived, and the rest is history, a history the Raiders have failed to address.

Rolando and the Raider “Stereotype”

Following the violent aftermath of a 2011 preseason game between the Raiders and 49ers, Raiders’ CEO Amy Trask was quick to defend her team and her fan base.

“I’m aware of the perception [of Raiders fans], and I don’t believe the perception is the reality,” Trask said. “Stereotypes are insidious. It’s so simple to stereotype Raiders fans. It’s an easy story. If you are hearing frustration coming through in my voice it’s because there’s frustration in my voice.”

Trask is right: It is easy to stereotype Raiders fans. But this is more of an indictment on her organization than it is on general public.

When it comes to handling player misconduct, David Carter, executive director of the Sports Business Institute at USC, tells the San Diego Union-Tribune, “There certainly is a sliding scale, not at the league level, but team to team on what they will tolerate.”

Trask and the Raiders are quickly establishing themselves as a team that will tolerate quite a bit.

Her organization has harbored coaches that assault other coaches, players that assault other players, and not to mention players that assault non-players. Worse, her organization has harbored McClain, who is now a repeat offender. In 2008, he was accused of intentionally hitting a man with his car. Twice.  Oh, and he was also once shot at while driving in Decatur, Alabama.

If Trask were serious about defending the image of her team and fans, she would have followed the Cincinnati Bengals’ lead.

After a 10 arrest/citation 2006, the Bengals had only had three in 2007. Most impressive: all of the offending players were promptly released. The Bengals’ image has improved significantly since.

Violent action, like frustration, will fill the space of its container. Right now, it would appear as though the Raiders refuse to contain it. Just like McClain needs to take responsibility for his role in the assault of Tapscott, Trask and the Raiders need to take responsibility for their role in the perception of the Raiders. To do so, the Raiders need to release McClain; they need to make him walk that green mile.

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