Week of December 8, 2005

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Week of December 8, 2005

Hey Joe: What do you think of the behavior of Terrell Owens of the Philadelphia Eagles?

Sean Breit, St. Louis

I'm a firm believer in practical sayings. I learned long ago that if I made my bed hard, I would have to lay in it. Owens is doing just that following his recent suspension. Frankly, I feel it should have come sooner.

For the past two seasons I've observed his selfishness. In more than one instance what happened to him is usually the outcome once the boundary is overstepped. Granted, he is one heck of receiver, but not good enough to pass a ball to himself and then run fast enough to catch it. He seems to feel that each time the ball leaves the quarterback's hand, it should be coming to him. Hopefully, if he lands a job in the future, he will realize there are other receivers on the team.

Hey Joe: I grew up loving basketball and playing on a championship team. It gave me confidence for whatever came my way. What can we do to get our young kids more interested in sports, school and positive things?

Mike Henry, Maplewood

I imagine playing on a championship team was quite an experience. I've never been that fortunate, but I love the teamwork involved. I strive daily to promote the word "unity." Many decades back — before integration — sports were black kids' motivator. Then came a group of college-trained kids, who decided to tackle the system of racial injustice. They were joined by elementary and high school students, and together they did something positive.

As a result of their courage, every single establishment representative of Jim Crow-ism succumbed. Blacks found themselves enjoying jobs that were out of the question prior. And like Israel after being led out of Egypt, they went ape — eventually taking on the image of their captives. It's great to know that basketball, and playing on a championship team, gave you the confidence to overcome any obstacle.

As for the students, each day school administrators meet them, it should be with a smile, and they should be constantly reminded that it was young blacks who changed the face of America in every facet. Maybe such flattery would provide the key to building their confidence, along with addressing their concerns. After all, each day they attend school, teachers are guaranteed a paycheck.

Prince Joe Henry, one of professional baseball's original "clowns," was an all-star infielder for Negro League baseball teams in Memphis, Indianapolis and Detroit throughout the 1950s. But up until the late 1940s, Prince Joe didn?t know anything about the Negro Leagues. His knowledge of organized baseball was limited to the Cardinals and Browns games he attended during his preteen years at Sportsman?s Park, accompanied by lifelong buddy Eugene "Gene" Crittendon, who could pass for white.

Perhaps Henry?s most vivid memory of those games: Upon entry, white ushers would politely escort the boys to a small section of the left-field stands reserved for "Colored." After climbing past several tiers of bleachers, they?d arrive at their stop, rows and rows behind their white counterparts.

Even at a young age, the boys were conscious of the double standard -- and determined to vent their disdain. The opportunity would arise with the urge to urinate. Rather than head for the latrine, the boys would edge their way to the front of the section and let fly. As the liquid foamed its way down the concrete steps toward the white kids, Henry and his pal would ease back and relax, politely rooting for the visiting team to beat the hell out of the Browns or the Cards.

After all, Henry and Crittendon hailed from Brooklyn, Illinois, a small, predominantly black township just east of the Mississippi River. So hospitable were the residents of Brooklyn that they were known to take in a rank stranger, treat him to breakfast, lunch, supper and a night out on the town -- and afterward, if he messed up, treat him to a good ass-whippin'.

Direct questions on any and all topics to [email protected]. If we don't like yours, we'll hit Joe with our own.

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