Retired good-ole' gasbag Bobby Bowden went on the ESPN show with all the Mikes this morning to deliver his thoughts on boys, specifically young African-Americans, who were raised without a steady male presence in their lives. In light of his claim that 65-70 percent of "my boys did not have a daddy at home,' it's a topic where Bowden could have some valuable insight.
So, apart from a gentile acknowledgement of the "sweet old mommas" and other female authority figures, what did the former 'Noles coach have to offer? Empathy? Clarity? Unity? Maybe even some misguided paternal ideas about an issue that requires complex thinking about race, poverty, cultural norms, politics, religion, the role of sports in society, and sex itself?
Nah, Bobby's just gonna' go the tried-and-true gay panic route.
"I used to kid about this. They grow up and wanna be like their momma. They wanna be a man like their momma... That's why they wear earrings."
Oh Golic, your fake laughter is almost as gross as your Lee Jeans hash-tagging.
You have to give it to Bowden, he somehow managed to offend men, women, and all of the former players who were entrusted to him by single mothers with one stupid "joke," covering himself by saying he was "kidding about that."
What separates Bowden's jibberish from your run-of-the-mill sports radio yakkhole is that he was once in a position where the mere presence of a "father figure" swayed him to make a grotesque decision on a player's behalf.
In 1993, Florida State student Ashley Witherspoon was raped and shot by Seminole running back Michael Gibson, who then stole her Christmas presents. She lived; Gibson received six life sentences. In 2004, due to a Florida Supreme Court ruling, Gibson had a new hearing, strictly as a procedural matter. This is where Coach Bobby Bowden weighed in. He wrote a letter of reference on Gibson's behalf. It concluded: "Thank you for reading my letter and may God direct you in your decision." Ultimately, Gibson's other five life sentences were upheld.
(Full disclosure: Witherspoon shared her incredible story with me a few years back. My part notwithstanding, it's well worth a read. She's amazing.)
Of the letter, Witherspoon said:
"There's a pattern. We keep looking the other way because these guys are a frigging commodity. Football is a fraternity, a club for life for these people. The thing that sticks in my craw is that he signed the letter 'Coach Bowden,' as if we all wouldn't know who Bobby Bowden was. Who signs 'Coach Bowden' unless you're signing a poster or a football? And you're signing this to a judge? Maybe it was a secretary, but someone signed it with his authorization. It bothers me there was no thought to find out from me, or the other victims .... On the one hand, I want to remember the school, the team and Bowden fondly, but if I did sit down and think about it .... I don't know, it's always pissed me off."
Michael Gibson is the adopted son of former Florida St. running back Ernie Sims Jr., whose son Ernie Sims III, was a standout linebacker at the time Bowden wrote the letter.