Safety moves past player’s boycott

On Saturday night, my young career as a reporter reached an early milestone. I covered my first-ever professional game, the Vikings preseason match-up with New Orleans at the Metrodome.
The goal of the evening was to write a story on former Gophers star Tyrone Carter’s first professional game, an early milestone of his young career, as well.
I imagine now that Carter sat in the locker room preparing himself for the game about the same time I sat in the press box preparing myself for Carter.
This is where our similarities end, and my education begins.
In addition to questions about his first game, his excitement and so on, I decided to ask Carter about his new career in journalism.
Carter has been writing a training-camp diary for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the same publication boycotted by Carter and his teammates last football season for a cartoon that ran, titled “The Plantation.”
The cartoon showed three African-American basketball players playing in front of Caucasian fans, with a caption above that read, “Of course, we don’t let them learn to read or write!”
In protest, the football players decided not to speak with reporters from the Pioneer Press until an apology was issued. Carter told the Daily in October, “Until they (print an apology), I won’t talk to them.”
The season went along, and though gallant, the players’ protest proved unsuccessful in garnering an apology from the paper.
Now to me, Carter’s guest column seemed like a slap in the face to those players who stood with him last season. Granted, not every single player shunned the Pioneer Press, but the majority of them did.
So, while I was intrigued to hear Carter’s reasons for his new affiliation with the paper, going in I felt he made a mistake.
When I asked him what changed his mind, Carter said, “Let bygones be bygones. I was really hurt by the remarks that they made, but I can’t hold any grudges. I’m a forgiving man, and it’s time to move on.”
In truth, I expected such a response and thought it was lame. But I didn’t start thinking about the response until later in the evening.
Like I said, this is where my education begins.
My conclusion: Carter is thinking and doing the right thing: moving on.
In this day and age, for the Gophers football players to have pulled off a surprisingly cohesive protest for an entire season is quite an accomplishment.
While the Pioneer Press never gave an apology, they certainly got the message.
Carter will likely never forget the incident, but his willingness to forgive is a lesson that speaks to stubborn people like me.
Even Carter’s current and former teammates don’t hold this against him.
“It didn’t raise any eyebrows for me,” Viking Billy Cockerham said. “That was in the past, and we’ve moved on.”
“(Carter’s) an adult, and he knows what he’s doing,” Gopher Sean Hoffman said. “If he feels comfortable doing that, it’s fine with me. As far as I’m concerned, we’ve moved on.”
They say Carter, at 5-foot-9, is too small to be a professional football player. Judging by his handling of this situation, I’d say he’s already a professional, period.
Whether or not the Gophers players will continue their boycott this season is up in the air according to Hoffman. He said the team will discuss it in the coming weeks.
For now, Carter will continue to write for the Pioneer Press and thanks to him, I will give more thought to the concept of moving on.
“They never did give us an apology, but it’s all right,” Carter said. “That’s life.”
Here’s to a successful one for you in the NFL, T.C.

David La Vaque welcomes comments at [email protected]