Well, here we go again!
As all the media dummies out there have been writing and shouting, it is now official: Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw is a racist. You probably know that last weekend Bradshaw said Miami running back Reggie Bush looked "like he was chasing that bucket of chicken the wind was blowing" when Bush ran for a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts.
The sports world gasped, because it is flat-out "racist" to mention a black person and fried chicken in the same sentence. Remember when Tiger Woods won his first Masters tournament 15 years ago and Fuzzy Zoeller was blasted for asking if that meant they would have fried chicken and collard greens at the next year's champions dinner?
I wrote that Zoeller didn't insult Woods, he insulted Woodson, because I grew up eating fried chicken and collard greens, Tiger didn't! Who the heck doesn't like fried chicken! Shoot, I had some Kentucky Fried Chicken for lunch Monday.
Remember when the Golf Channel's Kelly Tilghman said in 2008 that the best way other golfers could go after Tiger Woods was to "lynch him in a back alley." Many people got upset over that, but the bottom line was that it was a compliment, i.e., Tiger is unbeatable.
Then there was Bob Griese's comment in 2009 when someone asked during an ESPN football telecast where NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya was. Montoya was probably "out having a taco," Griese said. A Hispanic eating a taco? What an insult! And Griese was suspended for a week.
Would someone out there tell me why all those comments were so awful but it's OK to ask an ol' Louisiana boy like me, "Are you craving some crawfish etouffee?" or "Had any pinto beans lately?" Or to ask me if I wore shoes to school, and did I get there on a mule or with a horse and buggy. I've heard them all, and I didn't call my lawyer; I laughed.
Why is it OK to call a Texan a redneck if he drives a pickup with a rifle on a gun rack behind the seat? Why is it laughable to say the Arkansas governor's house burned down-in fact, the entire trailer park burned down? Why is it an acceptable joke to refer to some uneducated Southern farmer as a "hick"?
No problem! Just don't suggest that a black guy, in this case Reggie Bush, would chase down a bucket of fried chicken if the wind blew it away. I don't know about Bush, but there's no doubt I would run after it!
Look, I've known Terry Bradshaw since he was at Woodlawn High School in our hometown, Shreveport, La. I covered him then, covered him at Louisiana Tech and covered him with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team he helped win four Super Bowls. He was never a jerk. I doubt if he could even spell the word! Oops, now don't take that the wrong way. It's a compliment to a guy from the South, not an insult.
Bradshaw spoke at a Compeer luncheon here back in 2001-it seems like only yesterday-and the crowd at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center loved him. As always, Terry was warm and friendly, and we talked after he spoke. Then he invited me to ride in the limo out to the airport with him and chatted some more.
I have never seen Bradshaw display such an ego that he would send the message, "I am wonderful, and don't you forget it." I've never seen him stop smiling and laughing, unless he threw a lousy pass on third and 10, which he rarely did.
There's a reason why Terry has been on Fox Sports network since 1994. That's 18 years, for you Southerners out there who can't do simple math while you're eating fried chicken. Omigosh, another insult! (As for math, when I took plane geometry in high school, I realized I'd better take up writing.) The reason Bradshaw has been there so long is that he has football knowledge and a great personality.
Just as Griese and others have done, Terry made a knee-jerk comment about Bush's beautiful touchdown run. It was not something he thought about and decided to say to get a negative thought across. It was not meant to be an insult or anything like that.
Look, Bradshaw and I have one thing in common-other than being Louisianans who love fried chicken: We like good people, period. It doesn't matter whether they're white, black, purple, chartreuse, green, whatever.
As I've said for years, laughter is the best medicine, and if you can't laugh at yourself, you've got problems. So lighten up, guys. OK? And have some fried chicken!
Rick Woodson's column appears each Thursday on the Rochester Business Journal website at www.rbjdaily.com. His book, "Words of Woodson," is available at www.authorhouse.com/bookstore. Listen to his weekly program, "The Golf Tee," at 9 a.m. Sunday on WHTK-AM 1280 and FM 107.11/9/12 (c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.