NFL commissioner Roger Goodell won’t tolerate gang signs. That’s good. Despite Charles Barkley’s famous invective, professional athletes, particularly those in the major sports, are indeed role models, and they have a responsibility to set edifying examples. Promoting gang culture in a forum as visible as an NFL game is inexcusable. But Marcellus Wiley, who’s quoted in the piece, says it happens.
I’ll take his word for it. I went to public high school in Mississippi and my neighborhood in Chicago skews shady at times, so I’ve seen a thing or two. However, there are only a couple of gang signs I’d recognize. And something tells me Goodell knows even less than I do. So thankfully, he’s empaneled some experts to show him the way.
On some level, I fear this is a cynical move by the NFL, one designed to make the league more palatable to the suburban whites who constitute the bulk of the customer base. But unlike, say, David Stern’s risible war on the street clothes of NBA players, this effort, cynical or no, actually serves a greater good.