As an African-American entrepreneur who has made a living writing books under contracts, the ongoing contract disputes and negotiations between star wide receiver Dez Bryant and billionaire Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones presents a longstanding quagmire.
After recently firing his African-American sports agent, Eugene Parker, to sign up with Roc Nation Sports, formed by popular music mogul Shawn “Jay Z” Carter, Bryant has said that he wants to not only secure his football career with the Cowboys, but become an “icon” like his idol and mentor, Michael Jordan. Bryant presently has a 3-year endorsement deal with the Jordan Brand and expects to land several more endorsements deals while under the guidance of Roc Nation.
The problem is, Jones, does not know or trust doing business with the upstart agency of Roc Nation, and he has been very vocal about it. In effect, Jones has basically told Bryant, “You go back to my boy Eugene to represent you on this deal or else.”
Well, if that ain’t that “old boys’ club” flexing its economic muscles, I don’t know what is. Now I understand that Eugene Parker is a Black businessman who has been able to cut great deals with the club. However, the Black community has been forced into these type of one-way relationships with the white power structure forever. No offense to Parker, but they give one Black man the keys to the car and then tell the rest of us that he’s the only one they trust to drive.
It’s offensive that Jones would even think to tell Bryant who should represent him at the bargaining table. He can advise the young as an older businessman and a concerned friend, if that’s what he is, but to torpedo negotiations based on his selection of representation sounds like something straight out the 1950s, particularly when the persona making the decision is Black.
Mainstream America hates us using the so-called “race card” to explain the history and ongoing imbalances of business and professional relations but when it looks like, walks like and talks like a spade, it usually is a spade.
Now, I’m not calling Jones a racist; I don’t believe that he is. But I wonder if Jones would be so adamant about not dealing with Roc Nation Sports had the upstart agency been formed by a young, popular white man who could remind him of himself instead of a young, Black and ambitious rapper out of the Brooklyn projects?