NFL Star Deacon Jones Dead At 74 — Todd’s Tribute To A Legend
Every BLACK YOUTH NEEDS what I had growing up.
What I had growing up was not something that was given to me...it was something I found...and I was able to find it because it was there to be found. In today's world, it may not be there for many...it's that something that is ATTAINABLE WITH A GUARANTEE. In other words...something ANYONE CAN HAVE.
In my childhood, it was not FAME, FORTUNE, THE PRESIDENCY or anything else POSSIBLY UNATTAINABLE. You see, the old cliche that "YOU CAN BE WHATEVER YOU WANT TO BE" is great in THEORY...but realistically, it just IS NOT TRUE.
My Mom always kept me humble, and although she's my biggest fan, she would remind me "appropriately"...(so that I would NEVER lose that sense of REALITY)...that "THERE'S ALWAYS SOMEONE BETTER"...but at the same time, she encouraged me to be THE BEST. It was an interesting concept and a very wise lesson.
When I entered the fifth grade at Allendale-Columbia, I was one of ONLY NINE BOYS in my class, which was an all-boys private school at the time, until merging with Columbia (an all-girls school on Goodman Street) years later. Now it is a FACT that there were only NINE BOYS in my class...but it didn't register that way with me. My REALITY was that there was ONLY ONE BOY IN THE CLASS...(and pretty much in the entire school, Kindergarten through grade 12) that was BLACK!!!
And MAN, WAS I BLACK!!!! I lived in the HOOD on Hawley Street in the blackest of black neighborhoods in Rochester. While my peers went home to mansions on WhiteStone Lane in Pittsford...I went home to a rented duplex at 489 Hawley St....AND I LOVED IT!!!! Yes, what they had was great, and it was great spending the night and witnessing what they had...but I loved my life, Mom and home so much that it was EQUALLY as enjoyable when they would come and spend the night at my home. Interestingly...THE FUN WAS THE SAME...as a matter of fact, more fun at my house... because I had BETTER GAMES. My SOCIAL EDUCATION during those years far SURPASSED the unequivocal academic education I received at Allendale. That says A LOT!!!!
The bottom line here is that I was surrounded in one sense by a culture that wasn't "MINE"...so to speak...but I COULD HAVE MADE IT SUCH (and would probably be much further ahead...but at the same time...would have become a person within myself who even "I" didn't even know). I had a very keen sense of "EVERYTHING"...primarily based on the attention, DISCIPLINE and EXAMPLE of the greatest mom EVER, Katherine L. Anderson, AND as a single black mom...my mom HAD TO DO WHAT SHE HAD TO DO. My Dad was NOT a BUM...he just wasn't there...because they were not together. I would see him on "visitation days"...but he was NOT an influence, although he was MY DAD, and I was PROUD OF IT AND LOVED HIM SO MUCH.
The point of this whole "BOOK" I'm writing (which I feel OBLIGATED to share publicly) is this: There WAS a MAN who caused me to have an IDENTITY...one that would and WILL NEVER go away. He FASHIONED FOR ME A ROLE MODEL BEYOND COMPARE. I didn't want to be "like him"...because I didn't know HIM PERSONALLY...I only knew what he BELIEVED IN AND REPRESENTED...and he ALWAYS PROVED IT BY EXAMPLE. IT WAS VISIBLE. He never TOLD me he believed in the things he exemplified...I could just tell...thus, HE ALONE became my ROLE MODEL in LIFE.
The "ROLE" he exemplified was one of TENACITY, DRIVE, PERSISTENCE AND AN UNCOMPROMISING CULTURAL IDENTITY. Seeing him maybe ONCE PER WEEK AND ...from a distance...had a POWERFUL INFLUENCE...that's how POWERFUL HE WAS (and he probably never knew it). I wanted to make it so that I saw him more than once per week...so...on my own...I bought a GIANT POSTER of him and put it in my room above my bed. He saw me...and I saw him EVERYDAY...it was as though he WATCHED OVER ME...I WAS ACCOUNTABLE TO HIM...MY ROLE MODEL!!!
This is what EVERY YOUNG BLACK MALE NEEDS!!!!...AND...If you are reading this (especially single moms) and you have a young son...ask him who his ROLE MODEL is...PAY ATTENTION TO HIS ANSWER...if it's someone he wants to "BE LIKE" because the person has THINGS OR MONEY OR STATUS, you may want to PRAY...but if he's lucky enough to have WHAT I HAD...PRAY TWICE AS HARD AND THANK GOD...that HE has a BLACK MAN that he can look up to whose influences are more VALUE DRIVEN than they are anything else.
If you can't find that person...have your young BLACK SON READ THIS...when he's able...and then go on YouTube and search for EVERY ATTAINABLE VIDEO AVAILABLE about a man that wore #75 for The LOS ANGELES RAMS...DAVID "DEACON" JONES!!!!! HE allowed me to have PERSONAL QUALITIES that far exceed the RICHES AND FAME of a JAY-Z or KANYE WEST or KOBE BRYANT, or the Buffalo Bills $100 MILLION MAN MARIO WILLIAMS. HE allowed ME to KNOW that I didn't have to be a different color or be "like" a different culture, other than MY OWN, to be accepted or GREAT...I could just be TENACIOUS, DRIVEN, PERSISTENT, SUCCESSFUL AND "BLACK"...just DOING THE BEST I CAN DO...AND ALWAYS STRIVING TO BE THE BEST THAT "I" CAN BE...That to me is WHO "DEACON" JONES WAS...AND WILL ALWAYS BE.
R.I.P. Role Model!!!!
R.I.P. TO THE GREATEST FOOTBALL PLAYER ON FIELD AND MENTOR OFF THE FIELD...EVER!!!!!
DEACON JONES WEBSITE GEARED TOWARDS "MAKING A DIFFERENCE" FOR YOUNG ATHLETES!!!