JoeBucsFan.com Responds To Tom JonesNovember 3rd, 2010
St. Pete Times columnist Tom Jones wants you to know that ESPN personality Trey Wingo meant no disrespect to Raheem Morris when Wingo called the Buccaneers “Radio Raheem’s company” during a SportsCenter highlight on Sunday.
And Jones is so bent on making sure Wingo comes off as nothing more than a playful ESPN talking head when he made that comment, Jones devoted a whole column at TampaBay.com to explaining why Joe is an irresponsible moron for writing that Wingo’s comment was an insult of Morris.
Now Joe has to step out of character for a moment, since Jones personally went after the “Joe” who wrote the post. That would be me, Steve Isbitts, one of the two guys known as “Joe” around these here pages.
Forgetting about all the incorrect assumptions Jones makes in his piece (will get to a big one later), the big problem is Jones is unwilling to assign any responsibility to Wingo for how his audience might have interpreted “Radio Raheem’s company.”
So who gets to decide what’s an insult and what’s not?
Who died and left Tom Jones insult-determiner-and-chief? A comment is not insulting until Tom Jones says it is? Please.
It was the take in the original JoeBucsFan.com post here that Wingo’s line was an insult of Raheem Morris and was a comment “born from the color of Morris’ skin.” Jones and Wingo think that was inflammatory and borderline calling Wingo a racist. (Yes, I talked to Wingo today).
Frankly, I wasn’t calling Wingo a racist at all; just keeping it real. I firmly believe Wingo doesn’t drop the one-liner if Morris isn’t a black man, hence the reason the comment was “born from the color of Morris’ skin.”
Bucs fans would be kidding themselves if they thought that those who called Sabby Piscitelli “the next John Lynch” last year didn’t make that comment, in part, because Piscitelli is white.
Does that mean someone who made that comment is racist? No. But the comment is “born from the color” of Piscitelli’s skin. …(No word on whether Lynch was insulted.)
Call me crazy, but it seems pretty clear that nicknaming the Bucs head coach for either the profanity-spewing Radio Raheem character in the 1989 film “Do The Right Thing,” or for the mentally challenged, football-loving Radio in the 2003 movie Radio is insulting.
It’s hardly a leap to think that Raheem Morris and the Bucs organization finds it insulting. But hey, Tom Jones didn’t bother to get a comment from Raheem or the Bucs for his story. … Guess it doesn’t matter when you’re the judge and jury on what is or is not an insult.
Wingo told me, and Jones, he was referencing the 1989 film character, which is fine and dandy. But the problem is that ESPN’s target demographic, viewers 18 to 35, are far more likely to connect the nickname “Radio” to the 2003 film Radio, starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. playing the mentally challenged young man who loved football, versus the old Spike Lee flick that had nothing to do with football.
The call here is that Wingo was totally irresponsible in floating “Radio Raheem’s company” when he should have known that it could have been widely misinterpreted by his core audience.
And don’t think for a minute that Wingo doesn’t know the target demographic at ESPN. The whole industry does.
Jones went on to say that a prominent national figure like Wingo surely wouldn’t read local Bucs message boards and know that some commenters have been insultingly calling Raheem Morris “Radio” since he got the Bucs job. …That might hold water if ProFootballTalk.com didn’t write a story about it last year and if ESPN didn’t have a massive staff to screen this kind of stuff.
Regardless, Wingo is responsible for throughly knowing the implications of what comes out of his mouth. His ignorance shouldn’t have any bearing on whether or not the comment is an insult.
Jones goes on to blast me as a second-rate journalist for not calling Trey Wingo to get his take. As I told Jones, what was in Wingo’s head is not relevant. The comment is what’s relevant. Hurling an insult does not require intent. …None of us even know if Wingo wrote the line or was just reading it off a teleprompter.
Finally, Jones closes his attack piece on me with the following nonsense:
Finally, I’m guessing Isbitts is surprised that his post, written on a local blog, caused such a ruckus, and perhaps that’s the lesson here for all of us. Whatever is written on the Internet is not necessarily written into a vacuum. People might actually read it and you better be aware of your words whether you’re writing for a national Web site, a newspaper or hometown blog, or the comments sections of any of them.
This is so out in left field that Joe has asked Jones to edit/delete/correct it.
The reality is JoeBucsFan.com fully expected this to become a national story immediately. So the clueless-local-blog-owner take offered by Jones is baseless and incorrect.
JoeBucsFan.com is partners with BigLeadSports.com, owner of the wildly popular TheBigLead.com. So the fact is when a story is posted here of national interest, it is immediately sent to that site for consideration. And as readers of ProFootballTalk.com know, numerous posts here are picked up by that NBC Sports property.
There’s also a little something called Google alert that millions of businesses and people use to track things on the Internet. Jones seems unaware of such modern and widely used technology.
The minute “Trey Wingo” was posted here, it was known by this writer that Wingo, his agent and ESPN’s public relations team would be all over it.
So for Jones to say that “I’m guessing Isbitts is surprised that his post, written on a local blog, caused such a ruckus,” is completely wrong. In fact, the opposite is true.
It’s pretty sad that Jones had to sum up his spin-filled work with a complete pile of nonsense.
Yes, that’s an insult.