Monday, May 04, 2009

Accessory to Further

Accessory to Further
By Michael – Louis Ingram
“An NFL player who played 10 years in the league gets a pension of $2500 a month; yet in Major League Baseball, that same player over a similar period receives $10,000 a month (in spite of the fact pro football makes more money).We didn’t know we were going to live this long – everyone told us we would all be dead by age 55, and these guys that are out here, -- they’re hurting. And rather than address it, the NFLPA does things to defame and further diminish these men…”
-          Jane Arnett, wife of former NFL player “Jaguar Jon” Arnett, co- founder of the Retired Professional Athletes Association (RPAA), an advocacy group for ex-players.
In a few hours from now a handful of young men will have their names called in front of the grand stage at Radio City Music Hall in New York City; and an audience of millions of cable and satellite television viewers will see approximately 60 or so of these cats become millionaires -- literally overnight.
The National Football League presents this transformation every year in an orchestrated production called the NFL Draft, replete with pomp and fanfare as the next wave of gridiron gladiators are put out in public display before the masses.
It wasn’t that long ago where there were no bells and whistles, or continuous coverage or fantasy geeks to masturbate on statistics and create a cottage industry based on…potential.
Jane Arnett is someone who also believes in potential. As co – founder of the Retired Professional Athletes Association (RPAA), her goal is to help bring back dignity to those who labored for thousands so a few could make billions. “You know, we’re seeing an event – and that’s what it’s become, an event,” says Arnett. “The NFL Draft will call these young men and change their lives with relative ease; but they are so difficult in allowing some of the same men whose names were called long ago to reacquire their sense of self and bring quality of life back to their spirits.”  
As with these new millionaires, many of the retired heroes who are directly responsible for the Draft becoming Fat City for these kids came from the same talent pool; from schools like Penn State & Michigan; universities like Washington and Southern California; small schools like Occidental & Kutztown State; and historically Black colleges & universities like Grambling, Morgan State, and Florida A&M.
From the meager bonus dollars that may have bought a car or put down a payment on a house in the 1950s, 1960s or 1970s, the size of the contract and bonus money awarded to the first selection in this year’s 2009 NFL Draft will exceed the $28.1 million awarded to these same retired players, who won the amount in a class action suit – against their own union last year.
Apparently these words – “class action suit” are significantly diluted and remade as abomination in the aftermath of the ruling; there has been anything but class shown on the part of NFLPA/Players, Inc. counsel in paying out the cash; their stalling actions and vindictive attempts at appeal smack more of greedy family members waiting for an old relative to die so they can do whatever suits their own selfish interests with his remains, rather than have that uncle or grandfather live out the rest of his days with dignity.
And as a Matthew Stafford or a Jason Smith gets to put their “John Henry” on that first contract, the other side of the NFL’s mouth will scream bloody murder about being broke. Broke? How broke can you be when the first team on the clock, the Detroit Lions, who haven’t won a regular season game all last season have spent money on changing their logo?
Never mind the millions they will spend on improving the Lions; this is a team that in spite of going 0 – 16 all year (how do you make a highlight Yearbook film out of that?) are still worth far more than their Motor City counterparts:
According to numbers by, the Tigers, who did compete in a recent World Series, are worth $239 million; the Pistons, who have recent NBA championships to their credit, are worth $363 million; and the Detroit Red Wings, a perennial winner, a team and organization so dominant in the NHL hierarchy, they have earned the nickname “Hockeytown,” are worth three times less ($303 million) than the 0 – 16 Lions, who are worth $917 million.
Y’all didn’t hear me – I said $917 million. And Detroit (24th on the NFL value pole) is not even the lowest ranked team; that distinction belongs to the Minnesota Vikings, who are worth “only” $839 million dollars – in spite of being a playoff team last year!
You call that broke???
And the Lions that helped make that money were men like Bobby Layne, Charlie Sanders, Yale Lary, Patrick Studstill, Lem Barney, Joe Schmidt, Dick “Night Train” Lane, Altie Taylor, Darris McCord, Greg Landry, Mel Farr, Roger Brown, Alex Karras, Billy Sims – and Wayne Walker. 
Arnett, wife of Jon Arnett, a 10 year NFL veteran who played with the Los Angeles Rams and Chicago Bears, formed RPAA in large part after seeing the plight of former players whose bodies, once young and strong have betrayed them with the ravages of time and scars on the gridiron. “All these players are very prideful, and are only asking for what they’ve earned; or at the very least, a chance to again earn some revenue and feel relevant again,” says Arnett. “But whenever we have sought to help out a player with a chance for work or to make a public appearance, the League is insistent in clamping down on what specifics allow for any affiliation – and it stinks.
“As the wife of a former player it is a struggle for many spouses and loved ones to handle the challenges of being with someone who they have to be caretaker, provider and often breadwinner because of circumstances due to ongoing medical, physical and emotional stresses which can tear couples and families apart.”
Given the amount of revenue garnered by advertising on the part of ESPN, the NFL Network and all other League – connected apparatus, the idea of continuing to maintain a hard line approach to men who only want their fair share remains a mystery to the most logical of minds.
Bernie Parrish, former Cleveland Browns defensive back and architect of the successful class action suit, when asked if the delaying tactics on the part of NFLPA were tantamount to them being an accessory to the murder of many players, replied, “I definitely feel that way. I’m in my early seventies, and many of my peers died off much earlier than they should have.
“The average lifespan for players has been hovering in the low - to – mid fifties, and the pain of enduring long – term issues of drug addiction, injuries, lack of proper medical care because of insurance companies not allowing for disability claims brings us back to where we started – the NFLPA’s violating their fiduciary duty – that means they stole our money; but they have ultimately taken more from us then that.
“The mantra has long been, ‘delay, deny, and hope we die’ – and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out this is what NFLPA has decided on as their modus operandi for showing their thanks to the men who built this League,” Parrish said.
The actions and inactions that have brought these factions to this point seem to have clearly defined the roles of the principals:
(“Heroes & Villians” – lyrics by Brian Wilson & Van Dyke Parks, performed by the Beach Boys)
I’ve been in this town so long that back in the city
I’ve been taken for lost and gone
And unknown for a long long time

Fell in love years ago
With an innocent girl
From the Spanish and Indian home
Home of the heroes and villains

Once at night Catillian squared the fight
And she was right in the rain of the bullets that eventually brought her down
But she’s still dancing in the night
Unafraid of what a dude’ll do in a town full of heroes and villains

Heroes and Villains; just see what you’ve done

Heroes and Villains; just see what you’ve done

Stand or fall I know there
Shall be peace in the valley
And its all an affair
Of my life with the heroes and villains

My children were raised
You know they suddenly rise
They started slow long ago
Head to toe healthy, wealthy and wise

I’ve been in this town so long
So long to the city
I’m fit with the stuff
To ride in the rough
And sunny down snuff I’m alright
By the heroes and

Heroes and Villains
Just see what you’ve done

Heroes and Villains
Just see what you’ve done

Twitter Retains Fewer Users Than Facebook and MySpace? So?


More at | Follow me on Twitter!

YouTube, MySpace, Metacafe, DailyMotion,, Stupid Videos, Sclipo and Viddler

I saw an interesting blog post today over at reporting that Twitter is "Doomed" (in fact the title is "Twitter Doomed") and I had to laugh. There have been any number of people explaining either why they don't use Twitter or predicting its demise. There's even a website-style blog called "Twitter Backlash". But back to the post that got my laugh banks engaged and this sentence:

Apparently more than 60 percent of Twitter users fail to return the following month and pre-Oprah more than 70 percent of Twitter users failed to return to the site according to David Martin, Vice President, Nielsen Online.

Apparently Nielsen believes it appropriate to lump in Twitter with social networks like Facebook, MySpace, and others, and that's the problem. Twitter's a micro-blogging environment much more than a social network and thus should not be compared to Facebook and MySpace. Facebook and MySpace have places for photos of whatever you're doing or a place for installing your favorite music to share with others. That's not what Twitter's designed to do. Thus comparing them is lumping Apples with Oranges.

Twitter, again, is for the act of "micro-blogging" or explaining something in less than 150 characters. That's a system that can be and has been incorporated into a social network like Facebook, but it's not a social network like MySpace and Facebook.

I think what's happening is because one can communicate with others on Twitter, or have "friends", it's viewed as a social network as opposed to something that allows social-networking.

Two different actions.

In Facebook I have various pages, I'm a "fan" of President Obama, and I can see my friends photos, attend events I'm invited to, and play games they invite me to engage in (when I have time).

I can't do any of that on Twitter.

So it should come as no surprise that Twitter has a lower retention rate than Facebook or MySpace. Hey, people like to learn about other people which is what we use Facebook and other networks for. (Personally, I swear by Linkedin which I use far far more than MySpace.)

I don't see Twitter as a competitor to Facebook, but as complementary to Facebook. My Tweets go from my Twitter page out to my followers then onto my Facebook page and for good measure migrate over to my FriendFeed page as well. And my blogs are hooked in the same way: Blog to Twitter to Facebook to FriendFeed. Hey, that horizontal subscription count can add up!

The reason Twitter has a lower retention rate is simple: there's less there. It's a great place for the rapid transfer of information but that's it and you have to use it to understand its value.

Alas, Twitter doesn't have the revealing voyeur factor, so unless someone comes up with an app to send Paris Hilton sex tape through Twitter, the retention rates always going to be less than for Facebook, and that's just fine with me. Twitter's going through a shake out period where everyone thinks they have to use it. It's not for everyone. Eventually, we'll get rid of the wanna bees and be left with a really engaged Twitterverse.


New TV Show by Zennie62's On BART and Oscar Grant

On Saturday, May 2nd, my new television show starts. It's called "The Blog Report With Zennie62" and features the use of my video blogs in a weekly 30-minute format broadcast and co-produced by CoLoursTV in Denver. The start time is 3:30 PM Pacific Time, 6:30 PM Eastern Time and the show is replayed at 11:30 PM and 2:30 PM respecfully.

If you don't have a TV you can see the live stream at or

The first show focused on selected events that occured after the shooting of Oscar Grant by BART Officer Johannes Mesherle on New Year's Day. It opens with my walk through a riot-ravaged downtown Oakland where I talked with many people about what happened, including a group of kids who were some of the rioters. Then we focus on the words of "DaveyD", America's foremost hiphop reporter and voice of the street, who shares his observations of how Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums handled the situation. And finally we hear from Dellums himself. This is not the last time I will visit this issue, but it's a good place to start the show.

The standard format is to present politics, news, sports, and tech in some combination for each show. Sometimes it's me talking about an issue; other times it's me talking to someone else, and with this show we will feature the work of other video-bloggers. It's a vloggers' playground.

The show will have a deliberate vlogger feel. Videos that you see on my channels at YouTube,, and other places make up the show. There's no studio; the camcorder is the star instrument. That means we can go anywhere at anytime and quickly make a video. It also means I can share what's happening in the news on the blogsphere in video form and show it on "The Blog Report". A lot of ground we can cover considering I never dreamed of having my own television show, but this whole road I've taken has been totally unplanned by me.

"The Blog Report" all started last year when I met Art Thomas who's the Executive Vice President with CoLoursTV at a media walk-through for the Democratic National Convention in Denver. He lived in Oakland before moving to Denver and so we had a lot to talk about. I was looking for a sponsor for our show at the time, so I sent a proposal to Thomas. That exchange turned into an idea for placing our videos on CoLoursTV and that became the concept called "The Blog Report With Zennie62".

Our first concern was how to get the videos up on television without a loss of at least the quality that is seen on and Viddler, which have the sharpest video uploads (that written, I love YouTube and the quality's really improved over time such that it's competitive with the two, but YouTube's best system is the website design and its "viral" nature as well as The YouTube Partner program.) I think we solved that problem and I understand the TV version looks even better than what you're going to see here.

I look forward to your feedback and questions. We're seeking sponsors and there are some organizations we simply want to establish strategic partnerships with, so please contact me. The possibilities for this are many and should serve as an example for a possble future for newspapers as well.

If you're a video-blogger located anywhere in the World and have material that's not longer than 4 minutes tops, notify me via email at and we'll go from there. I prefer the video is already uploaded on some site, Brightcove,, YouTube, etc, so I can see it.

I wish to thank Art Thomas, Damon Purdy, and Tracy Winchester of CoLours TV, as well as Steve and Bernard who made me look good in the promo. I also wish to thank Google / YouTube for their support and encouragement and specifically Chad, Emily, and Hunter. A big loud shot-out to the iReport team at CNN: Lila, Henry, Rachel, David, Nicole Saldi, and the rest. And thanks to the team at CNN Special Projects, Errol and Jessica, and to Roland Martin and his staff at CNN for discovering me. Finally, thanks to the San Francisco Chronicle for seeing the value in how I do what I'm doing and providing a platform. To the National Football League and Commissioner Roger Goodell, Greg Aiello, and Frank Supovitz ("Mr. Super Bowl") And of course, thanks to my Mom and my relatives in Chicago and Tennessee.