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Thank You Mark Ingram

YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia, Commentary, Pendarvis Harshaw Posted: Jan 09, 2010

Mr. Ingram,

Thank you.

Your performance during the BCS (Bowl Championship Series) game should be praised. When I speak of your performance, Im not speaking of the yards from scrimmage, or the two touchdowns, or even the honorable prayer thereafter each touchdown. When I speak of your performance, I am referring to the post-game interview.

The reporter asked what message you would want to communicate to your incarcerated father.

You looked directly into the camera and said: "We did it. I love you. And then you sat quiet. Solid. Confident.

In a world where the most eye-opening statements, emotional sound bites, and visually stimulating clips are blown out of proportion and used as news pegs for mass media outlets to retain viewers and generate revenue, you gave them no ammo.

Not a word they could twist. Not a clip they could replay and analyze. Not an inkling of a doubt that the best player in college football is also a good human being.

The TV in my dorm on Howard Universitys campus illuminated as the national coverage of the BCS Championship game ended, and the local coverage of ABC news in Washington, D.C. began to air. The story of Gilbert Arenas banner on the side of the Washington Wizards Verizon Center being removed was the top headline. As his image literally was torn down, they were broadcasting it for the world to see.

Mr. Ingram, as a great athlete, you have the great burden of being a role model in society, and you carry that burden just as well as you carry the football. I had to point you out as a highlight in the midst of many athletic low-lights: Tiger Woods infidelity, Mike Jordans divorce and gambling issues, and even the image of Oregon States LeGarrette Blount punching Boise States Byron Hout, an image that symbolized the entire 2009 NCAA Football seasonuntil last night.

Mr. Ingram, I want to thank you for the respect you have garnished in the media field, and congratulate you for the respect you have gained on the football field.

I cant help but believe that life is full of deep signs hidden in shallow places. Football is but a game, full of statistics that dont matter to the rest of the world. But inside jails across America, there are statistics of black men feeling as though they dont matter to the rest of the world.

My father, who Ive never met, is also incarcerated, ironically in Alabama. I found this out 24 hours prior to watching the Alabama vs. Texas game, while speaking with his younger brother for the first time in my life. My uncle told me, If you can do one thing to help your father, it would be to come down here and show him the one thing he got right in his life: you.

After being invited by my uncle to come see my father, and after being inspired by your message to your father, I give my word that I will be Alabama-bound as soon as I finish my own championship game: completing my degree.

With great sincerity and respect, I leave in the way that I greet: Thank you.

Pendarvis Harshaw

Related Articles:

Stereotypes, the Media and Black Athletes Who Get into Trouble

Group Offers New Beginnings for Incarcerated Youth

Where are the Black NFL Owners?

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