In 2007 legendary syndicated radio talk show host and fly jock Tom Joyner called me “A little known Black History fact!”
October 30, 2019, marked the 45th anniversary of The Rumble in the Jungle. On this date in boxing history, Muhammad Ali stunned the boxing world with an 8th round knockout of the undisputed and undefeated Heavyweight Champion of the world–George Foreman in Zaire, Africa.
On November 3, 1974, Muhammad Ali returned to New York City to make more sports history when he called me, I was a little known sports talk show host in Washington, DC, but still Ali invited me to come to New York City for an exclusive one on one interview. This invitation made me the first Afro-American/Negro/black/colored/N to ever be invited to interview an undisputed reigning Heavyweight Champion of the World one on one. Why me? Ali had not forgotten a promise he made to me in Chicago before leaving for Africa and what is now known as “The Rumble in the Jungle!”
When I hit the airwaves with The Original Inside Sports in 1972, the format changed the way we talk sports in America and now around the world. I was the first talk show host to successfully blend sports and politics into a radio talk show format.
I am the reason sports talk show host Jim Rhome is worth 75 million dollars, NFL/CBS host James Brown is worth 10 million dollars. In the meantime, the likes of ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith will be trying to negotiate a 10 million dollar contract for the year 2020 and ESPN’s Mike Wilbon formerly of the Washington Post is now earning 6 million dollars. The common denominator, they all copied my Original Inside Sports talk format–unheard of before1972.
When I hit the airwaves with The Original Inside Sports in 1972, my format changed the way we talk sports in America and now around the world.
Dr. Harry Edwards was the architect behind the 1968 Olympic Boycott that featured winning sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith standing on the platform holding their right hands high with black gloves protesting discrimination in America. The protest was heard around the world.
Dr. Edwards said, “Harold, congratulations, your archives are valuable and should be given the broadest possible exposure. Your discs and videos of your programs belong in the new Smithsonian Institution of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). A wing of the new museum will be dedicated to the struggle in sports and will be titled “Leveling the Playing Field”. Your work was a major force over the years in leveling the playing field, especially in terms of the struggle to define and project “Our Truth!”
Mike Wilbon and the legendary late Gary Mays aka “The One Arm Bandit” during a celebration of Black History Month in DC.
I made more sports media history when NBC affiliate WRC-TV 4 in Washington, DC aired a segment of my one on one interview with Ali in primetime on Sunday, November 23, 1975.
The talk format was so popular and had so much potential the Washington Post kidnapped my tag INSIDE SPORTS in 1978. They would send almost their entire sports and Style section department writers to New York City to publish “Inside Sports Magazine.”
The Magazine folded in two-years after losing several million dollars. The problem, the paper’s owners Katerine and son Donald Graham and their All-Star publishing team could not figure out how to transform print into my popular Inside Sports talk show format.
Dale Hansen is a Dallas, Texas television sportscaster and a YouTube sensation. He confessed that his success and accomplishments as a television sportscaster were because he was the benefactor of “White Privilege!”
I use my talk show format to campaign successfully to have two pro athletes inducted into their hall of fames after they had been forgotten and blackballed, Willie Wood (NFL) and Earl Lloyd (NBA). The athletes I have gotten an early release from jail are too many to count.
The benefactors of Inside Sports read like a Who’s Who, Dave Bing (NBA) John Thompson (GT), Sugar Ray Leonard (Boxing), Doug Williams (NFL), James Brown (NFL/CBS), Mike Wilbon (ESPN), Cathy Hughes (Urban One Radio), Kevin Blackistone (ESPN), Dave Aldridge (NBA/TNT), the list goes on and on.
Icons, Don King (Boxing) and Jim Brown (NFL) had to turn to Harold Bell and Inside Sports in times of trouble. When the media was calling King a murder and thief, I could be seen on National television (Geraldo Live) defending him against a panel of experts that included boxing historian the late Bert Sugar and the late Nobel Peace Prize winner, Jack Newfield. They all thought he should be locked up and the key thrown away. I argued that Don should be given a second chance and a opportunity to turn his life around which was and is suppose to be the American way. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nygALb50FV4
Jim Brown who was the NFL poster boy for domestic violence during his NFL career was arrested again in 2007 for the same offense against his wife Monique. Jim asked Monique to call me for help. I started a media campaign to get him an early release from prison.
In 2007 Jim repaid me by conspiring to rip off NFL Hall of Fame player Willie Wood for $57,000. The money was raised to help pay Willie’s nursing home bills during a tribute coordinated and hosted by me and Willie’s former University of Southern California teammate, attorney Bob Schmitz.
Unknown to me Mr. Schmitz had assigned members of his family to collect all monies raised on behalf of Willie during the tribute. The tribute was attended by Willie’s former teammates, Bart Starr, Paul Hornung, Willie Davis, Boyle Dowler, and hall of fame players, the late John Mackey, Charlie Taylor, Sam Huff, and Jim Brown among others.
When the tribute was over Willie was asking, “Where is my money?” All roads led back to his Attorney Bob Schmitz. He suddenly disappeared without a trace. I called my partner and friend Jim Brown and gave him an update. He agreed to call Schmitz to make an inquiry. I suggested that Willie’s sister Gladys be a part of that conference call. Two days passed and I had not heard from Jim or Gladys for what had transpired during the call to Schmitz? I dialed Gladys’ number and I was in for a shock, she told me that Jim had demanded she hang up the phone and he would handle everything. To say I was livid would be an understatement. I had to take a deep breath before I dialed his number.
He picked up the phone and I asked the question, “What was the status of the call to Bob Schmitz?”
He immediately jumped on the defense and asked the question, ‘What the F–K was I doing questioning him about some MF money and Bob Schmitz?’ I thought I had entered the twilight zone and had landed on some street corner in SE DC among some thugs and hood rats! I said my two-cents and hung up the phone. I realized how lucky I was to be on the other end of the telephone. I remembered he was caught cheating on the golf course by a friend. Jim beat him bloody and had to settle out of court. If Jim Brown could have come through the telephone I would have been in for a good ass whipping, but not without a fight!
This whole charade was my fault because I could not see the forest for the trees. I had been forewarned by his good friend Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Olympic sprinter and Gold Medal winner Jackie Joyner Kersey, and former NFL coach and President of the Cleveland Browns, Mike Holmgren. They all swore Jim Brown was nothing but a two-bit hustler of black athletes. He has hustled the best, Muhammad Ali, George Foreman and recently Don King. He saved his biggest hustle for last, President Donald Trump gave him a grant for 50 million dollars disguised as “Prison Reform.”
I should have closed the door on him when Lenny Moore a former Baltimore Colts’ RB/Flanker and NFL Hall of fame player called me regarding our friend. He said, “Harold could you talk to Jim Brown for me?” I said, ‘What’s up?’ He said, ‘Jim has been spreading the word that I have been Bad Mouthing him to the Baltimore Colt players!’ Lenny Moore is a class act and one of the nicest human beings you would ever want to meet—this was not his Mode of Operation. Jim was paranoid because the Browns had uprooted in Cleveland and had moved to Baltimore–in Cleveland he was king. In Baltimore, Lenny was idolized and Jim felt threaten. To make a long story short I had to meet with Jim and explain to him that whatever he was hearing about Lenny was not true–case closed! Lenny could not thank me enough.
In closing, I am grateful for this day in sports history that Muhammad Ali opened the door for me to make this great journey by his side without compromise. RIP my friend.
Footnote: If I get a chance to dance with the Angels and the question is asked of me, “Harold what did you do in 2019 to make sure our Democracy was kept intact–did you stand on the sidelines and do and say nothing?” Hopefully, I will be able to say, ‘I took a stand and I remembered my brother and friend in the struggle, Congressman Elijah Cummings and how he shown compassion for Michael Cohen a former attorney for President Trump. The President called him a “RAT!” Congressman Cummings explained the definition of being called a rat (snitch) in the inner-city and said, ‘We are better than that!’
I am still in disbelief in our recent lost of a great friend and human being to us all-Congressman Elijah Cummings.
He did not have to throw a touchdown on Sunday against the Steelers, shoot a jumpshot in Madison Square Garden or hit a walk-off homerun for his Baltimore Orioles to be an American hero!–all he had to do was be himself.
I am so glad this man passed my way. Congressman Cummings and I would often pass each other like ships in the night tooting our horns saying hello and goodby at the same time. It was either during The Congressional Black Caucus Weekends in Washington, DC or at Ben’s Chili Bowl during my tenure as historian. It was at the Chili Bowl I would see him making a pit stop on his way to The Hill or heading home to Baltimore. He would pull his black Lincoln up to the curb and run in and get his favorite half-smoke, but never without a smile or handshake.
In 2016 I was on my way out of the exhibit hall at the Congressional Black Caucus, I spotted him sitting at a table alone on his cell phone. I stopped to say hello and waited for him to complete his call. He acknowledged he saw me and flashed a thumps-up. When he finished his call he waved me over to the table.
The conversation started light and then he switched gears and started to talk about how we were losing ground in the Civil Rights movement. I expressed my disappointment also and cited the sacrifices made by many including my wife Hattie’s family out of Orangeburg SC. I notice his eyes lit up when I mentioned Orangeburg.
I later discovered his mother and father were born in South Carolina (as was my mother in Sumpter). In the early 50s Hattie’s father Dr. Charles H. Thomas, Jr. was a professor of psychology on the campus of South Carolina State University and President of the local chapter of the NAACP. He also marched with Dr. Martin Luther King and started the first ever student voter registation drive on a college campus. Dr. Thomas was inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame in 2007.
Congressman Cummings was impressed and made me promise to get him that jmportant black history moment to him asap. In November I called my good friend Attorney James Henson in Alexandria, Virginia. He was a classmate and dear friend of Congressman Cummings. He made a call for me to his Baltimore office to make sure that the information I was mailing would get into the right hands of staffer Vernon Simms . Apparently it did and Hattie and her family received a letter from Congressman Elijah Cummings dated February 23, 2017 (Black History Month) commemorating her family’s contributions to the early Civil Rights Movement. ELIJAH CUMMINGS LETTER
Dr. Thomas on the picket-line in Orangeburg, SC in the early 50s.
Congressman Cummings and I shared several character traits, he wore his heart on his sleeve, he loved children, and one of his best friends was a White Republican—Rep. Mark Meadows. Cummings was a liberal from Maryland and Meadows is a conservative from North Carolina. The two men had little in common, but they shared a uniquely strong friendship on Capitol Hill. Cummings had been asked about his friendship with Meadows on several ocassions and he said, “Meadows is a good friend . We disagreeon 95% of the issues, but ok, we’re able to talk. He’s cordial, we’re able to negotiate the things that we are able to agree on and I like him.” Been there and done that!
It was during a dramatic house oversight Commitee hearing in February when Lynn Patton a black woman and a long time Trump friend was brought to the Oversight Hearing chaired by Congressman Cummings. She was there to deny that President Trump was a racist. Things got heated when Democratic rep Rashida Tlaib called her appearance a “racist act” by Meadows. Meadows demanded that Tlaib’s remarks be stricken from the record. Chairman Cummings called Meadows “one of my best friends” and suggested Tlaib did not intent to call Meadows a racist. Tlaib agreed and apologize to Meadows. The next day they hugged it out. Meadows returned the act of truth telling when he defended Congressman Cummings when President Trump attacked him. Trump called Cummings’ Baltimore district “rat infested and he was a racist”! The Baltimore Sun newspaper even called Trump out in an editorial saying, “It is better to have a few rats than to be one!”
In 1969 I received a Presidential appointment from Richard M. Nixon a man I knew as Vice-President of the United States in the late 50s. I was just a caddy at the exclusive all-white Burning Tree Golf Course in a DC suburb in Bethesda, Md. When I met Nixon I was just a poor young black kid whose first home was a NE outhouse in 1940. I was just trying to help my single parent welfare mother make ends meet. Nixon and I had absolutely nothing in common as it related to our backgrounds except we both loved sports. He hacked his way around the golf course with his golf partner Attorney General William Rogers who was an excellent golfer and a class act. We would talk sports on my ride into DC with him and Rogers to catch my bus home. My drop-off point was Westmoreland Circle located on the district line separating DC from Maryland. When it came to knowing the difference between a Republican and Democrat I was clueless. I was just in the right place at the right time.
From a NE Outhouse to a NW White House. Hattie and I meet with President Nixon and Attorney General, William Rogers in the Oval Office (1969)
Congressman Cummings wore his heart on his sleeve. His honesty and integrity were never questioned by those who knew the MAN, if he gave you his WORD you could carry it to the bank and never have to worry about insufficent-funds! His type of integrity and honesty are a lost art in today’s American politics. The best example; the Words he spoke to Michael Cohen during the hearings on The Hill relating to corruption in government are words to live by https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geFgPqTesnk
I have been truly blessed and honored to have President Nixon, Congressmen Lou Stokes (D-Ohio), John Lewis (D-Ga) and Elijah Cummings on my team. They inspired me to be all that I could be. They supported my pioneering efforts to reach back and reach out to the community through my non-profit organization Kid In Trouble, Inc. and my sports talk show “Inside Sports” against all odds. Congressman Stokes was the first politician to read my name into the Congressional Record on the House floor citing my work with at-risk children and youth gangs in DC’s inner-city (Senator Bob Dole and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton would follow his lead).
When I became a radio sports talk show host I remembered the naysayers who had critiqued my political appointment, but stayed in the closet with their comments of disapproval. For my talk show I needed a comment to close my show that would freeze the race baiters who were waiting to call-in. I coined the phrase, “Every black face I saw was not my brother and every white face I saw was not my enemy.” It has worked for over 5 decades. During the Oversight hearing, Congressman Cummings showed his compassion when he reminded Michael Cohen that President Trump had called him a “Rat” and in prison and in the inner-city that is one of the worst things that you can be called. And being called a “Uncle Tom” is another.
NFL legend Jim Brown and I visit with our friend the late Congressman Stokes on The Hill.
Earl Lloyd of Alexandria, Virginia was the first black to play in a NBA game in 1950 and in the process played on a NBA Championship team. He was also the first assistant black NBA coach hired and the second black head coach hired behind Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics, but for some reason the NBA Hall of Fame Gods had forgotten his historical contributions to the league. For decades they omitted his name from the ballot. In 2000 Congressman John Lewis would team up with me and NBA legend the late Red Auerbach to campaign for his induction. JOHN LEWIS NBA NBA legend and icon the late Red Auerbach and wife Dotie guest host on Inside Sports and NBA pioneer the late Earl Lloyd as he dribbled his way into NBA Hall of Fame in 2003, thanks to an assist from Congressman John Lewis and Red Auerbach.
Congressman Cummings saved his most profound and enlightening statement for last when he said,
“When we are dancing with the angels the question will be asked in 2019 what did we do to make sure we kept our Democracy intact. Did we stand on the sidelines and say (and do) nothing? The messages that we send our children are the living messages we send to our future, one we will never see!”
I am amazed how many young people have always wanted to be “Like Mike”! If America is going to move ahead, grow and prosper more young people will need to be like Congressman Elijah Cummings. I still want to grow up to be like Congressman Elijah Cummings and I am 81 years old.
I am following the lead of this great man and saying, “This blog is adjourned!”
Posted: February 24, 2019/ Re-visted August 27, 2019
By Gary Johnson with contributor Christopher Johnson
November 2019 will mark the 45th anniversary of “The Rumble in the Jungle.” The never to be forgotten fight between the undisputed and undefeated Heavyweight Champion of the world George Foreman and The Greatest, Muhammad Ali. The fight was held in Zaire, Africa. Ali stunned the boxing world when he knocked out Foreman in the 8th round. When the dust had cleared and Ali returned to the United States, the first media personality he called was his friend, Harold Bell. He asked Harold to meet him in New York City for the interview he had promised him in Chicago before flying to Zaire.
It took 45 years to just get “The Teaser” of the1974 Ali interview to the Big Screen, but on June 4, 2019, the Miracle Theatre on Capitol Hill was the host of “We Remember Muhammad Ali”. Family and friends traveled as far away as Louisville, New Orleans, and Charlottesville, Virginia to pay tribute to The Greatest! It was recently discovered that Congressman William Lacey Clay (D-Missouri) is a cousin of the Greatest!
As we head into February Black History Month 2020, one can say, if you’re going to be fact-based about our history, then you can make an argument that “good things come to those who wait.” This article was posted in February 2019, but I felt a need to re-visit. On November 24, 2019, the complete Ali interview will be seen in a Red Carpet Documentary titled “Ali & Harold Bell: Uncovered and Uncrowned” at the Miracle Theatre. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3I8zZFubB0
For tickets (limited seating) and more information: 240 334-7174
The late Ron Sutton of WHUR radio and Harold add a little color to the press table during a Washington Bullets game in Landover, Md. in the 70s.
This is not a blog about whether or not people like Harold Bell. Spoiler Alert: Harold Bell believes when you help others you help yourself.
The “I Don’t Like Harold Bell” line is LONG but invisible because it is based on he say, she say. Especially when you ask those who have benefited from his good deeds in the DC community. Former NFL Running Backs Larry Brown and NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown, former NBA Star and former Mayor of Detroit Dave Bing, radio and television owner Cathy Hughes, former Georgetown basketball Coach John Thompson, Boxer, Sugar Ray Leonard, NBA Adrian Dantley, Redskin QB Doug Williams, CBS/NFL James Brown, NFL Tony Paige, Boxing Promoter Don King and more–but none will go on The Record! They have all benefited from his good works in the community and his pioneering efforts in broadcast media. The benefactors read like a Who’s Who! There may be something to the metaphor, “Crabs in a barrel!”
When Larry Brown arrived in DC in 1969 as a rookie running back for the Washington Redskins it was Harold Bell who convinced him, Roy Jefferson, Harold McLinton and Ted Vactor to join Green Bay Packer great Willie Wood and NBA All-Pro Dave Bing on his non-profit organization team of Kids In Trouble. They were instrumental in his enhancing the growth and development of inner-city kids. He traveled to meet Larry’s parents who were living in the legendary “Hill District” of Pittsburgh. He helped to find jobs for Larry’s brothers and advised him about the drug environment he was caught up in before Coach George Allen called him on the carpet. When Jim Brown was the NFL poster boy for Domestic Violence and was arrested again in 1999 it was Harold Bell he called to campaign for his early release from jail. This was not the first time Harold had to bail Jim out of a sticky situation. Dave Bing after being named NBA Rookie of the Year in 1966 said, “Harold Bell you help prepare me for the NBA.” Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson was the first black to win an NCAA Division One championship. When he took over the Georgetown program in 1972 he could not win a game. It was Harold Bell who gave him and his players 5 minutes on Inside Sports every Monday to promote Georgetown basketball. Doug Williams arrived in town in 1986 and his friend former DC Public High School coach Bob Piper advised him, “Stick close to Harold Bell he will protect your back!” In 1988 Williams became the first black to win a Superbowl and be named the MVP. When legendary sports agent Dave Falk pick-pocketed Adrian Dantley’s account to the tune of several million dollars without his knowledge, it was Harold Bell who delivered the bad news to Adrian’s mother, Virginia. Adrian wasn’t the sharpest knife in the draw.
ABA/NBA player Roland ‘Fatty’ Taylor–Larry Brown & Petey Greene participating in Kids In Trouble Saturday Community Program Larry Brown running for daylight
Sugar Ray Leonard, when he won his first World Championship by defeating Wilfred Benitez he called Harold Bell live on Inside Sports (WYCB radio) and said, “Harold I am the welterweight champion today because you were there when no one else was and I thank you.” Leonard went on to become the first pro boxer to earn over 100 million dollars in prize money. Cathy Hughes while working as a receptionist for WHUR radio asked Harold Bell to be a Big Brother to her fatherless little child, Alfred! James Brown, “Harold Bell has been an inspiration and motivation for me and a lot of other black broadcasters.” Tony Paige, his mom, dad and him all came through Inside Sports. His first radio talk show experience was on Connecticut Ave. on W-O-L. His dad was a legendary DC athlete and his mom was ahead of the curb on prison reform back in the day. Tony got lost in the bright lights and big city of the NFL, a common thread when it comes to the black athlete.
Sugar Ray on Inside Sports before the 100 million
When the media was calling Don King a killer, a theft, and mob-connected, it was Harold Bell who was defending his right to a second chance in the Game Called Life in print media and on national television. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nygALb50FV4
I am trying to figure out “Where is the beef with Harold Bell?” Who are you going to believe “The Player-Haters or your lying eyes?”
That’s not the point of this blog because in 2019 he is still helping others and making history. Harold Bell is now in his 80s.
Harold Bell is a complicated individual. He is both polarizing/galvanizing because he is principled in his truth. He is relentless to prove his point and defend his position when it comes to our children regardless of their race, creed or color.
His advocacy for children can move him to tears when he sees them being neglected and mistreated. He has used his “microphone” to give voice to the voiceless.
He has been honored at the White House by President Richard M. Nixon and on The House Floor by Congressman Lou Stokes (D-Ohio), Senator Bob Dole (R-Kan) and DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton for his work with youth gangs and at-risk children. He was the first sports talk show host to be honored as Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian Magazine.
Redskin QB Joe Theisman and Harold Bell “Washingtonians of the Year”
And finally, at times, Harold Bell can be his own worst enemy only because people want to hear the truth when it is about someone else, but never about themselves!
I told you the man is complicated—but his mission is clear we could use more Harold Bells.
Despite being in the public eye for over 50 years, I can make a compelling argument that Harold Bell is deserving of wider recognition, but he seems to care less about the recognition. According to Harold, “My success is based on not getting stuck on stupid with stupid people. I give all the glory to God and the strong black women who raised me.”
Amy Tyler Bell aka “Grandme Bell”
Let’s take a brief look at Harold’s career and read why I wrote this blog.
Harold Bell is a fourth-generation Washingtonian. His great-grandfather the Rev. James Tyler laid the first brick to build historical Mount Airy Baptist Church in 1893. The church is located on North Capitol and L Streets, NW in the shadows of the Nation’s Capitol. There were 4 Bell boys, he was the only one born in Brooklyn, NY.
In high school, he was an all-around athlete at Spingarn where he thought he was the straw that stirred the drink (1956-58). He was a frequent resident of his coaches’ “Dog House.” One game his coach Dave Brown locked him in the school bus at half-time, simply because he wanted the ball when the game was on the line. Spingarn was also the home of NBA Hall of Famers, Elgin Baylor, and Dave Bing.
Harold and other student/athletes saying “Thank You” to coach Dave Brown and his family during Nike/Inside Sports tribute in his honor.
As a teenager growing up in a single-parent home, Harold Bell was a “Caddie” on the weekends at the exclusive all-white Burning Tree Golf Course in Bethesda, Maryland. He took on this task to help his mother to make ends meet (food and shelter). In 1957 t he began a friendship with club member Richard Nixon. Yes, that same Richard Nixon who went on to become President of the United States. Years later Bell was quoted as saying Nixon “was the first white man that ever acted as if he cared about me.” Harold Bell is a fourth-generation Washingtonian. His great-grandfather the Rev. James Tyler laid the first brick to build Mount Airy Baptist Church in 1893. The church is located on North Capitol and L Streets, NW in the shadows of the Nation’s Capitol.
In 1963, after leaving Winston-Salem State College before graduating he spend two years in the minor leagues chasing his NFL dreams without any success. He returned home to work for the United Planning Organization in 1965. The organization hired three Neighborhood Workers for its self-help program –Petey Greene, H. Rap Brown and Harold Bell.
In 1967 Harold Bell met Muhammad Ali on the campus of Howard University as he mesmerized several hundred students as he explained why he refused to be drafted into the U. S. Army and the topc of racism in America. He volunteered to take Ali on a walking tour of the Georgia Ave. NW corridor and the rest is sports media and community history.
In 1968, Harold was caught in the middle of the riots that rocked inner-cities all around this country after the shooting death of our Prince of Peace, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. For three days he walked the U Street NW corridor with nothing but a DC MPD police badge. The badge was issued to him by his friend Assistant Chief Tilmon O’Bryant to help get him through the police and military barricades set-up around the city.
In 1969 he was in the right place at the right time again when President Richard M. Nixon was touring the riot-torn area in Shaw/Cardozo in NW DC. He later contacted the President via a written letter to the White House. He received a Presidential Appointment to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
He coordinated and organized recreation and mentoring programs for troubled youth on area military installations. He moved over to the Department of Defense (DOD) one year later. He found the first-ever Half-Way House for juvenile delinquents on a military installation in 1971 on Bolling Air Force Base in SE DC. He recruited DC Superior Court judges, pro athletes to mentor the kids in the half-way house.
Bolling Boys Base (Bolling AFB SE DC)
Bell’s reputation was such that his friend local radio and TV host Petey Greene, (the “coolest” dude in the city) gave him 5-minutes on his WOL Sunday radio talk show “Petey Greene’s Washington,” every Sunday evening he and Petey would talk sports. In 1972 Bell ventured out to become the first black to produce and host a sports talk show, “Inside Sports.” The show ran for decades primarily on black gospel radio stations, W-O-O-K, WYCB, W-U-S-T, and WPFW radio. The Inside Sports format changed the way we talked about sports in America and the world. Harold Bell was the first to blend sports and politics into a sports talk show format.
In November 1975, he became the first black to host and produce a television sports special in prime time. The show aired on NBC affiliate WRC-TV 4 on November 23, 1975. His special guest was The Greatest, Muhammad Ali.
Harold Bell was the first sports radio host to play message music and host media round tables. He changed the way we talked about sports in America and around the world. DC Sports columnist Dick Heller called him “The Godfather of sports talk in America.”
Dale Hansen is a nationally known sportscaster and author of a commentary on “White Privilege” in America. He said, “Harold this is Dale Hansen in Dallas. My accomplishments in sports broadcasting are nothing but peeling off the wall of White Privilege compared to your accomplishments.” See link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTWMUhYG0Y8/
I find it rather strange how Mr. Hansen could adopt the Inside Sports talk format and become a hero. His commentary relating to “White Privilege” had him in demand on national television all over the country. In the meantime, Harold Bell had difficulty being invited on a local podcast (White Privilege)!
The “Inside Sports” format featured topics on racism in sports and America. This format was frowned upon at that time. ESPN just returned to “The Good Old Days” after following Harold Bell’s lead for over 4 decades of blending sports and politics, ESPN’s new President Jimmy Pitaro send out a memo to all of his broadcasters and talk show host telling them to “Stick to Sports!” ESPN will no longer will tolerate “Freedom of Speech” over its airwaves!
Harold Bell never conducted a “softball” interview. If you went on his show or agreed to be interviewed you better be ready for hard and honest questions that dealt with the issues. The man studied and did his homework in advance. Don’t take my word for it. Go back and listen to his interviews with Muhammad Ali, Red Auerbach, George Foreman, Don King, Andre Agassi, Jim Brown, Sugar Ray Leonard, Dr. Harry Edwards, and the late boxing historian Bert Randolph Sugar.
Harold campaigned to help get Green Bay Packer great Willie Wood inducted into the pro-Football Hall of Fame in 1989. In 2000, Harold hosted functions during NBA All-Star weekend in Washington, DC for Earl Lloyd. Lloyd was the NBA’s first black player with the old Washington Capitals. The purpose of the event was to get Lloyd the attention needed to get him inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame. He made his NBA debut in 1950. He retired in 1960 and was finally inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003. Thanks to Harold Bell and the late NBA legend Red Auerbach and Washington Times sports columnist the late Dick Heller. Wille and Earl were able to make it in while they could still smell the roses.
NFL and Green Bay Packer great Willie Wood inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1989
NBA pioneer Earl Lloyd inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 2003
Harold didn’t stop at getting people inducted into their Hall of Fames, he helped get people out of jail. Just ask NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown and local high school and playground legends, Jo Jo Hunter and the late Bernard Levi and numerous other athletes. Harold also helped athletes who were deserving of wider recognition. There were athletes like Gary Mays, a multi-sport star at all-black Armstrong High and a local Washington, DC, playground legend despite having lost his left arm in a childhood gun accident. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gf50v2egyNk
Harold and his wife Hattie were married in 1968 and started a foundation for at-risk children, “Kids In Trouble”, thousands of children have benefited from their annual toy party leading to successful and productive lives for hundreds. He and Hattie were the host and coordinators of 45 straight years of Christmas toy parties without grants or loans. The NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL have all followed his lead in reaching back into the community.
CBS/NFL films videotape Redskins RB Larry Brown and LB Harold McLinton teaching water safety to inner-city kids. This was the first-ever NFL community promo. The promo took place at the Kids In Trouble Saturday Program in NW DC.
There are times I am led to believe that Harold Bell goes into a phone booth and changes into a Super Man costume. For example; In 1969 he walked into the indoor swimming pool at his Kids In Trouble Saturday Program and found one his kids lying face-down on the bottom of the pool. He jumped in and pulled him out only to discover that no one knew how to administer CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation). He picked the child up off the pool floor and ran two blocks soaking wet to Children’s Hospital to save his life.
In 2007 he arrived at the Potomac Avenue subway station in SE DC to find a young girl lying on the subway tracks with folks just looking on. As he started to jump on the tracks to rescue the child a wise subway employee told him that would not be a smart move. He said, “There is a live rail that could electrocute you and the child.” He and the employee decided to lie down flat on their stomachs and reach out to the young girl to try to convince her to reach out to them. The child did not respond and just stared back at them. Suddenly Harold notices the lights were blinking under him indicating a train was arriving at the station maybe just a minute out. With sweat running down his face and scared as hell, he yelled at the child at the top of his voice, “Give me your Goddam hand girl.” She reached up and they pulled her to safety seconds before the train arrived. He later found out the child was 14 years old and Autistic.
I’ve seen Harold Bell interact with children. He doesn’t publicize a lot of what he does to encourage children to grow up to be good citizens. I’ve seen what he’s done with my son. Together, they do a YouTube show.
Whether you like him or not, Harold Bell has proven to be a man of great character and integrity. He is a man for all seasons and all people. The bottom-line; Harold Bell went where there was no path and left a trail for others to follow–that is my two cents.
Here are some other notables and what they have to say about Harold Bell.
“Harold and I have a lot in common. He too has persevered and stood fast for the principles in which he believes.” — Muhammad Ali
“Harold I am so proud to see you have returned to work with young people whose lives once resembled your very own.” — President Richard Nixon
“Harold, you help prepare me for the NBA” — Dave Bing (NBA Hall of Fame)
“Harold Bell has always provided a platform for those without one” — Jim Brown (NFL)
“Harold, I am the Welterweight Champion of the World today because you were there when no one else was.” — Sugar Ray Leonard, Boxing Hall of Fame
“Harold has always been a voice for people who didn’t have a voice. He has always called them as he saw them. He has been an inspiration and motivation for me and a lot of other black broadcasters.” — James Brown (NFL CBS Sports)
“Harold you have always been a voice for the people and we love you for it.” Judge Luke C. Moore — (DC Superior Court)
“Harold Bell is a unique sportscaster, former athlete, youth leader and social critic all Rolled into one.” — Bill Taaffe, (Washington Star/Sports IIIustrated)
“Harold Bell and Inside Sports makes sense.” — Red Auerbach (NBA Hall of Fame)
“Harold Bell maybe controversial but I have yet to hear anyone call him a liar.” — Earl Lloyd (NBA Hall of Fame)
“Harold Bell is a One Man Community Action Program. I don’t think I have ever met anyone like him. ” — Nicholas Blatchford (Columnist Washington Star Newspaper)
“Harold I thank you and my office staff thanks you for allowing us to be a part of your annual Christmas toy party for needy children.” — Senator Strom Thurmond (R-SC)
“Harold Bell is the Godfather of sports talk—the good kind.” — Dick Heller, Washington Times
“Harold Bell is the Heavyweight Champion of sports talk.” — Don King (Boxing Hall of Fame)
“Sports talk as you see it today all started in Washington, DC with Harold Bell and Inside Sports.” — Johnny Sample (NFL Legend)
“Harold you can be a tough man sometimes but your work with children is commendable.” — John Thompson, (Georgetown University)
“Harold Bell if you had been white you would be a millionaire. People would have been calling Howard Cosell the black Harold Bell.” — Gene Kilroy (Ali Business Manager)
“As his own success took him out of the projects, he could not forget who he once was and where he came from.” — Lou Stokes (D-Ohio)
“No one is indispensable, but there are some people more necessary than others, Harold Bell is one of those people.” — Washington Star Newspaper Editorial
“Harold you are my hero” — Dave McKenna City Paper
“Harold Bell is a One Man Community Action Program and this city is far better place for him remembering where he came from.” — Washingtonian Magazine
“Harold, I have always admired the warrior inside of you. If we had more journalists like you, we would own this town instead of letting all the cheer-leading media scam artists have their way. People are just too weak minded to resist. That’s sad, but true.” — Sports Columnist Rick Snider
“Harold, I want to personally thank you for being my champion” — Willie Wood NFL Hall of Fame
“Harold, congratulations, your archives are valuable and should be given the broadest possible exposure. Your discs and videos of your programs belong in the new Smithsonian Institution of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). A wing of the new museum will be dedicated to the struggle in sports and will be titled “Leveling the Playing Field”. Your work was a major force over the years in leveling the playing field, especially in terms of the struggle to define and project “Our Truth!” Dr. Harry Edwards
by Chris Johnson
ESPN’s Dan Le Bartard host of Highly Questionable says, “This isn’t about politics it’s about race.” He questions ESPN’S motive, “Let us just stick to sports”, the ultimatum issued by its new president.
In 1972 the Original Inside Sports talk show made its debut on W-O-O-K Radio in Washington, DC and sports talk radio and television have never been the same. Harold Bell and his Inside Sports talk show format changed the way we talk sports in America and around the world–no question about it!
Along with that success came “White Privilege” owners Katerine and her son Don Graham of the Washington Post who stole/kidnapped his tag Inside Sports. The Inside Sports Magazine was published in New York City by News Week a subsidiary of the Washington Post IN 1979. They never match the popularity of his radio talk show and folded and disappeared two years later after losing several million dollars.
Harold Bell was the first personality to blend sports/politics into a sports talk show–unheard of in radio and television in the 70s and 80s.
William Taaffe radio and television critic for the Washington Star Newspaper (later Sports Illustrated Magazine) wrote in 1980 eight-years after the Inside Sports talk show made its debut, “Most radio sports talk shows do not contain intimate bits of verse set to music (Wake Up Everybody, One Day We Will All be Free, Respect Yourself, Black and Proud, etc.).
Neither do most shows feature stimulating discussions (media roundtables) about drug use in sports, racism within the NFL, abuse of naive athletes by agents (Adrian Dantley and Dave Falk, etc.) and inspirational messages about life on the streets of Washington, DC. But then Harold Bell is a unique–sports announcer, former athlete, youth advocate and social critic all rolled into one.
Inside Sports rules the roost because of content, freshness and a crusading kind of honesty. As bell says, ‘Most people love to hear the truth so long as it is about someone else’.
He set the ground rules and format for his show from the very beginning. He reminded us that we are all in this struggle together. He closed his shows saying, “Every blackface I see is not my brother and every white face I see is not my enemy.”
The Auerbachs, Dotie, and Red were among the first high profile celebrities to embrace Inside Sports and Kids In Trouble.
Virginia Sailor teammate Joe Mona and Harold are seen sharing the ball during a team photo opt
Unlike today’s sports radio and television talk show host, he was a community legend long before he became a sports talk show legend. He was truly a brother in the struggle trying to save the lives and enhance the growth of young people regardless of the color of their skin or ethnicity throughout the District, Maryland, and Virginia.
A rainbow of elementary school children enjoyed the annual KIT Christmas Toy party at the Marriott Hotel in Crystal City. He says, “Children are not born racist–racism is taught.”
In 1972 NFL Films/CBS taped the first-ever community promo at the Kids In Trouble Saturday Program in Washington, DC. Redskins’ RB Larry Brown and the late LB Harold McLinton are videotaped teaching water safety. NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL all followed Kids In Trouble and Inside Sports into the community.
New ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro threw his entire talk show host and writing team under the bus in July when he said, “I understand my on-air talent feeling compelled to speak out. But I also recognize that when I or one of our on-air personalities speak publicly that is received as the opinions of ESPN, and that cannot be. We look at what our fans are telling us.”
With that statement, he gave Skip Bayless, Shannon Sharp, Jason Whitlock, and the other sports talk show host outside the lines of ESPN the upper-hand in sports reporting. Using a disclaimer was highly questionable!
For anyone to say sports and politics don’t mix don’t know their history and the struggles of boxing great Jack Johnson, Paul Roberson, Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Curt Flood, Tommie Smith, John Carlos, and Muhammad Ali.
Presidents who led this great nation depended on sports as an outlet from the everyday grind of the White House. Dwight Eisenhower was an avid golfer, Richard Nixon played college football and golf. He was also a big fan of NFL Redskin Coach George Allen. He visited Redskin Park during his tenure at the White House. Gerald Ford played college football at the University of Michigan, Barack Obama loved to play pick-up basketball and Donald Trump plays golf around the world. When was it that sports and politics didn’t mix?
The weekend of August 3, 2019, will go down as one of the bloodiest weekends in American history. The residents of Dayton, Ohio and El Palso, Texas were blinded-sided by gunmen who committed mass murder in their small towns. The two gunmen have been described as “White Supremacist”!
In 1972 Harold Bell and the Original Inside Sports’ format set the bar pretty high for talk radio and television none have matched his common sense, book sense and street sense approach to covering sports from the playground to the White House and beyond.
The hottest topic in America today is “Guns” everything else is a distant second. There are more guns in America then there are people! More people are murdered in America by guns than any other place in the world included war.
ESPN’s “Highly Questionable” host Dan Le Batard is back on air after he questioned the role of President Donald Trump and ESPN’s role as it relates to racism in America. His voice was the loudest after Trump’s followers in a campaign rally in North Carolina broke out with chants of ” Send her back” when Trump continued his cry relating to the four Democratic freshmen congresswomen, including Somalia born IIhan Omar. Earlier, Trump had tweeted and reaffirmed in pubic appearances that the four women should “Go back” to their “totally broken and crime-infested countries “, even though three are U. S. born citizens.
In the meantime, ESPN talk show host Dan Le Bartard a 50-year-old son of Cuban immigrants called the rally “un-American” and said it exposed a racial division in this country that’s being encouraged by the president.”
He also said, “ESPN doesn’t talk about what is happening unless there is some sort of weak cowardly sports angle that we run it through. This isn’t about politics its about race. There is a racial division in this country that’s being instigated by the president. It is so wrong what the president of our country is doing, trying to get reelected by dividing the masses at a time when the old white man, the old, rich white man feels oppressed being attack by minorities, black people, brown people, women—that’s who he is going after now.”
These are similar words used by NBA superstar LeBron James during his HBO special in a barbershop setting. He quickly had to eat his words and apologize to those he called, “Old NFL white men owners who were running their teams like plantations.”
The latest, the Russians are taking notes and running paid ads on social media to fan the flames of racism in America. It is “Highly Questionable” where will we go from here?
Chris Johnson is a writer and contributor to Black Men in America blog/www.blackmennamerica.com
In December 1968 Kids In Trouble host its first Christmas toy party. Santa Claus is my Virginia Sailor teammate, the late LB George Kelly. The Sailors were a minor league football team for the Washington Redskins.
Santa’s Helpers: Redskin LB Dave Robinson–LB Harold McLinton (Santa)–WR Roy Jefferson listen as DC Superior Court Judge Luke C. Moore gives the welcome address during the annual KIT toy party.
In 1968 NFL legend and Hall of Fame player Willie Wood of the Green Bay Packers along with U. S. Marshall in-Charge Luke C. Moore and I walked arm in arm down the U Street NW corridor during the 1968 riots. Our goal was to save as many lives as possible in one of the worst riots in DC history.
Little kids looting during the riots and today are dying in those same streets
Young people’s blood is flowing in the streets in DC and nearby Baltimore at record rates. Today, 50 years later I have lost count of how many young people I have lost (gun violence, jail, drugs, incarceration, etc.) too many to count. DC and Baltimore are on track to add to its data base a record number of homicides. Guess who the victims are!
I am more familiar with how many lives I have saved at this stage of the game. It seems like they are popping up everywhere. Robert Glen a young man who lived across the street from my mother-in-law in Suitland, Maryland. He is a graduate of Morehouse College. He is in the class where billionaire philanthropist Robert F. Smith paid off 40 million dollars in student debt. Little Robert was a 12-year-old hotshot basketball player in the neighborhood with a hoop attached over his garage door. He challenged me one day and I took him to hoop and beat him. He was in shocked. He asked me to play another game and I refused (I was 70 years old). We played friendly games of H-O-R-S-E thereafter. He recently thanked me along with his parents for being a role model to him. I guess he never got over the shock of an old man beating him. You never know who is watching.
In June I encountered another one of my young men driving a UPS truck on a busy street corner on Capitol Hill. I was there preparing for my “We Remember Muhammad Ali” tribute at the Miracle Theatre. He was once a young wannabe thug hanging out on the corner of 7th & T Streets, NW. I was trying to be a mentor, but he disappeared without a trace and no one seems to know his whereabouts. He told me he had been locked up in jail for the past 8 years and he had just been released a year ago. UPS gave him a second chance to get his life back on track and he wanted to thank me for reaching out to him when he was a knucklehead. I cannot remember his name if it would save my life!
Antonio Logan-EL was a two-year-old kid hanging out with his grandfather when I met him. I watched him grow into a 300 pound promising All-American football player at Forrestville High School in Forrestville, Maryland. The story of how he got from Point A to Point B (elementary to high school) is interesting.
Three-year-old Antonio Logan-El is front and center sitting on a Baby Grand Piano at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in downtown DC. The occasion, the Kids In Trouble Life Time Achievement Awards. His proud grandfather a recipient is standing on the left George Logan-El.
Santa’s helpers (NFL, NBA, MLB) have played important roles in my community endeavors, for example; Marc Logan is a 10-year vet and a former NFL RB he played with the Redskins from 1995-1997.
Antonio and his Little League teammates were the guests of Marc Logan at Redskin Park in 1996 and his guest as he co-hosted several KIT toy parties.
Antonio’s grandfather the late Dr. George Logan-El was my friend and partner in the community. He was a native Washingtonian, a dropout, former ex-con, junkie and well-known drug abuser in The Hood. George is the best example of someone who pulled himself up by his bootstraps without the straps. He led by example, he cleaned himself up and went back to school and earned his GED, college degree and his Ph.D. in social work. He helped find “The Untouchables” a group of at-risk young men in the Alexandria, Virginia school system.
In the meantime, George a single parent was trying to go to school and raise his daughter Nichole a single parent with a young son named Antonio and nephew Chris.
The late Dr. George Logan-El and Grandson Antonio Logan-El today.
Marc was an inspiration to Antonio and KIT youth. He reached back with no strings attached. He didn’t just talk the talk, he walked the walk.
Marc congratulates pro boxing Featherweight Champion Mark ‘Too Sharp’ Johnson. L-R DC Boxing Commissioner the late Dr. Arnold McKnight, NFL legend Lenny Moore, NFL RB George Nock, NBA legend Sam Jones and I look on.
Antonio’s grandfather died of cancer before he was supposed to make his ill-fated college football debut at Penn State. I promised George on his death bed that I would keep a close eye on his grandson, but sometimes you have to let go and let God (see link below).
Despite failed NFL dreams, a few hiccups in his life’s journey, Antonio graduated college and has followed in his grandfather’s footsteps. Today he is somewhere working with at-risk children in the DMV.
Marc attends KIT gospel concert at Bible Way Church in NW DC as Apostle James Silver makes a presentation as I look on. He picked up where former Redskins left off, the late LB Harold McLinton, Roy Jefferson, Ted Vactor, Dave Robinson, and Doug Williams. Marc is back home in Lexington, Kentucky with his eyes on the prize. He is looking for a building to open a Charter School.
President Trump’s recent attack on Baltimore and its popular congressman, Elijah Cummings didn’t go over well but it had some merit. In Baltimore, there were 175 victims with fatal head wounds in 2018 which accounted for 57% of the homicides. More than 150 people have been killed through the end of June of 2019 a 17% increase in homicides over the same period last year. Counting non-fatal gunfire more than 500 people were shot–an increase of more than 25%. Their neighbor 30 miles to the south Washington, DC the homicide rate is up 5% from 93 in 2018 to 98 in 2019. There is a “Health Crisis” in DC and Baltimore in the black community, but no one seems to care, especially the black athlete. There is one exception in DC, meet Washington Mystics’ player Natasha Cloud. She has more balls than most male role models and superstars Bradley Beal and John Wall of the Wizards. In a video she called out Mayor Muriel Bowser and leadership in Ward 8 one of the most dangerous communities where the Wild-Wild West is played out on any given night. Leadership is pretending to be deaf-mutes to the violence surrounding them, but it all starts at the top! (see link). https://wjla.com/news/local/wnba-player-demands-answers-after-dc-school-shooting?fbclid=IwAR2z0qQ5SHA33OAvFefxjjhOEug_2O3LNB0w_ipcvHyPEDQoWsAnyOr3jbM
I remember it was 1974 because of the violent overtones of the name Washington Bullets, the late owner Abe Polin wanted to change the name before moving the team to DC from Landover, Maryland. After much debate the new name would be Wizards–still 45 years later the murder rate has skyrocketed–much to do over nothing.
The Wizard’s organization and its players are under the impression of going into the community and giving away toys, and turkeys will help bring the crime rate down in the community. A recent press release read, “NBA All-Star John Wall and the John Wall Family Foundation (JWFF) will host a Back to School Backpack Giveaway on Saturday, Aug. 3rd. This is the sixth consecutive year that Wall and his foundation have held this event. After this year’s event, the JWFF will have donated over 6,500 backpacks to students in the Washington, D.C. and Raleigh, NC areas.
It is too bad that John and the Wizard’s organization didn’t think to make the backpacks equip with bulletproof vests.
I hated to see Paul Pierce leave the organization he could have help these young guys grow into men.
The organization is clueless for example, their PR staff had a racist leader in charge and he despised blacks in media including me. The Roundball Report a PG County cable television show had made a request for press credentials for several of their female reporters including Christy Winters Scott (now a Wizard’s contributor). The PR guy gave them a hard time and the run around on several requests. Andrew Dyer the host and producer of the show ask me to see what the problem was. I requested a meeting with the PR guy. Instead, I meet with another member of the staff, Scott Hall and one of his go-fers by the name of Darren Jenkins. Problem solved, but I smelled a rat. They fired the problem PR guy and put Scott Hall in charge, years later they bring the racist PR guy back through the “Back Door” (he now works for the Mystics).
I have said on many occasions that some white folks don’t know when they are being racist because they have never had to walk in a black man’s shoes—meet Ted Leonis and Scott Hall all this BS starts at the top and filters down.
The organization recently fired GM Ernie Grumfield after 16 years of FREE money and no progress (White Privilege). With Grumfield gone Ted Leonis decided to restructure the Wizard/Monumental Sports with a new leadership team.
According to Leonis, “We have formed a new leadership team with a forward-thinking structure to adapt to the ‘new NBA’ that requires every possible strategic advantage to compete and win. We are building a leadership brain trust with deep Wizards/NBA experience and with sports professionals from inside and outside the NBA to challenge our thinking and adapt to an ever-increasing competitive environment.”
The New Brain Trust: Ted Leonsis, Tommy Sheppard, Sashi Brown, Daniel Medina, John Thompson III, and Mike Thibault.
When I saw the name John Thompson III I knew it was the blind leading the blind (‘Today’s Good Old Boy Network’ welcomes a few token blacks). Anyone in bed with John Thompson II could careless about people of color. Thompson was quoted in the Washington Post Magazine saying, “My favorite color ins green”!
Pro basketball fans in the DMV have little or no opportunity to see NBA championship basketball in their lifetime. Racism is so thick in today’s America you could easily cut it with a knife. I received the press release relating to the organization structure the day after the event. It was emailed to me by one the team’s designated Go-fers, Darren Jenkins! Did anyone notice they quietly slipped Dwight Howard out that same “Back Door” hoping no one would notice! They finally realize he brought too much baggage to the organization and everyone seem to know but Ernie Grumfield.
PR man Scott Hall tried “Back Door” me by sending Howard to one of our juvenile facilities to talk with at-risk kids. The entourage included, a Washington Post beat writer and former Washington Post/NBA TNT analyst Dave Aldridge. I immediately called Hall out for No. 1 assigning Howard with all his baggage to talk with young black boys who maybe aware of the baggage he brings with him. No. 2 he assign his in-house media who had no history of working in the inner-city with at-risk young boys, and had never been in a juvenile facility in the DMV! The visit and photo opt never took place, Howard developed a strange problem with his ‘Backside’!
P. S. When they didn’t resign play by play man Steve Buckhantz, I was through with them. Steve was the best play by play man to ever step in the building. He was a class act for 22 years and he carried himself accordingly. Steve I wish you nothing but the best. You deserve better.
Legends of Inside Sports (1972): Richard Nixon and Muhammad Ali two of the most controversial personalities in American history. A time when politics and Inside Sports collided was no coincident.
ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro just sold his entire staff of broadcasters and writers out to pro sports owners with his latest ultimatum “Stick to Sports”! It is going to be very interesting to watch and hear ESPN broadcasters and writers dance around trying to keep their balance while trying to talk sports and not mix politics. Most of these guys cannot chew bubble gum and walk a straight line.
Talking sports and politics were unheard before Inside Sports. The Inside Sports talk show format made its debut on W-O-O-K radio in 1972 in Washington, DC. Sports talk radio, television and print media has never been the same. Inside Sports changed the way we talk sports in America and around the world. The Original Inside Sports was the first sports media format to successfully blend sports and politics. Every radio and television sports talk show heard and seen in the world today is a copy of the Original Inside Sports. The format has often been imitated but never duplicated!
First, the Washington Post newspaper and owners Katherine Graham and her son Donald kidnapped the tag Inside Sports, it was much like Christopher Columbus discovering America. In 1978 the mother and son carried the tag to New York City and published “Inside Sports Magazine”. They then copyrighted the tag making it officially their very own. The magazine failed losing several million dollars before the Grahams closed shop saying, “No Mas”!
ESPN was the first broadcast media to copy the Inside Sports format. A fired Community Relations Manager from the NHL Scott Rasmussen watched as the Inside Sports Magazine failed and decided to try the format on television. Sports Center was the original vehicle, Out Side the Lines, 30-30 and East 60, etc all followed.
Inside Sports was Out Side the Lines and Real Sports long before Bob Levy/ESPN and Byrant Gumble/HBO Real Sports. It was unheard of to play message music or have media roundtables with different journalist participating. In 2019 forty-seven years later new ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro has sent out a memo to the entire ESPN staff saying, “Stick to Sports”! This will make the ESPN format the leader in “FAKE NEWS”! ESPN has decided to make sports talk a dictatorship.
The bottom-line, I set the table for sports talk in America. My talk show format was unique because I was a community legend long before I became a sports talk show legend. My work in the inner-city with at-risk children got its start with the self-help community organization UPO (United Planning Organization).
In 1965 UPO Director/CEO Jim Banks hired three Neighborhood Workers to patrol the Shaw/Cardozo corridor of NW DC. Our assignment was to assist and enhance the lives of inner-city youth. I learned politics from the ground up watching the first Black Mayor Walter Washington and Mr. Banks maneuver and play a game of chess with white politicians on The Hill who controlled the DC budget. They were trying to get our fair share from a group of politicians who could have cared less–sound familiar!
Mr. Banks hired the late Petey Greene, H Rap Brown and yours truly. Petey Greene would later become a legendary radio and television talk show host. He would open his show saying, “I will tell it to the young and tell it to the old, there will be no lying and signifying”. H Rap Brown would become a Civil Rights icon when he became the 5th chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinator Committee (SNN). He later moved on to become the Minister of Justice for The Black Panther Party (his story is still on-going). I parlayed my UPO experience into a winner when I met Muhammad Ali on the campus of Howard University in 1967. UPO later gave a grant to the DC Department of Recreation and Parks to hire additional Roving Leaders for their elite youth gang task force. I was made a part of the grant package.
In 1967 against all odds ex-con Petey Greene became a radio talk show host on W-O-L Radio. Every Sunday afternoon Petey Greene’s Washington became must listen to radio in the black community. He gave me 5 minutes to talk sports (Redskins). I remember I was hanging out in the U Street corridor one afternoon and I encountered Petey. He said, “Your man is down on 7th street touring the riot area”! My response, “My Man”? He laughed and said, “The President of the United States Richard Nixon”.
Petey and I both were caddies at the Burning Tree Golf Course in suburban, Maryland in the late 50s. Nixon was then Vice-President and a member of the exclusive all-white golf course. There were no blacks or women allowed membership. I became a caddy on the weekends for Nixon and William Rogers who was then the Secretary of State. In 1969 thanks to Petey I was able to parlay that 7th street encounter into lunch at the White House and a Presidential appointment.
In 1972 I parlayed my 5 minutes on his talk show into my own sports talk radio show “Inside Sports” aired on W-O-O-K radio.
Politics & Sports: Here I am seen with Mayor Walter Washington and with my high school Coach Dave Brown. I am thanking coach for saving my life. In high school, I was trying to go to hell in a hurry!
While ESPN calls itself the World Wide Leader in sports there has been much criticism which includes, accusations of biased coverage, conflict of interest and controversy with individual broadcasters and analysts–former ESPN talk show host Jemele Hill was suspended for calling President Trump a white Supremacist. This is par for the course in this cut-throat business.
In January 2016 ESPN had been seen in 91,405,00 paid television households (78.527 of household with at least one television set). The Nielsen ratings (the bible for radio and tv advertising) reported a much lower number in 2017, the number of subscribers fell below 90,000,000. ESPN was losing more than 10, 000 subscribers a day.
The network hit the panic button this was interfering with their bottom-line (MONEY). When they discovered the problem causing them to lose their bottom-line was the black athlete (Colin Kapernick), all hell broke loose. NFL owner Jerry Jones led the charge and was joined by President Trump. His slogan and battle cry became “Fire the son of a bitch”. In pro sports when it is green vs black or black vs white—black is usually the loser. NFL players are no longer seen on their knees and Kapernick is rumored to have sold out for 10 million dollars (NFL petty cash).
The NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, Pitaro, ESPN and President Don Trump fail to understand their bottom-line problem is not the black athlete—it is racism which is embedded into the fabric of pro sports!
The bottom-line; I sit the table for sports talk in America. ESPN has decided to make sports talk a dictatorship and take us back to television and America heard and seen in black and white!
Dan LaBartard of ESPN maybe the first casualty of this guideline written into the ESPN bylaws “Stick to Sports”! He pulled the covers off of White Privilege in America when he called out Donald Trump on his chant “Send Her Back” as it related to four Congresswomen of color who disagreed with his racial policies.
This commentary you would never hear from any black radio or television sports talk show host working for ESPN. In an impassioned response to Donald Trump’s chant “Send them back” LaBartard said, sports broadcasters must comment on race relations–in particular what he called un-American “Chants of sending them back” directed at Democratic congresswoman IIhan Omar, a Somali refugee, and an American citizen. The Plantations continue! Click on the link below and pay close attention to the in-studio staff as LaBartard makes his case against Trump and racism in America. ESPN’s slogan will soon be known as the leader in Fake News World Wide. Stay tuned.
Eleven year old Karon Brown was among seven people in a period of 5 days shot dead in DC. Every child that dies by gun violence in DC, Maryland and Virginia, I consider them a personal lost. I am all in when it comes to our children no matter their ethnicity.
Karon’s violent death hit close to home. He attended Stanton Elementary school and he was a member of the Woodland Tigers football team, once known as the Woodland Raiders. The team was found by my partner, youth advocate and DC boxing legend the late Calvin Woodland.
The Woodland Raiders practiced on the field adjacent to the school. Calvin was the CEO and coach of the team. He ran the team with an iron fist (sometimes literally). I was his assistant coach and I had his back and he had mine.
The kids and their parents trusted, loved and respected him. The Woodland Raiders became legends in the community and were the pride of SE Washington. I remember when his son little Alexis was born and became the apple of his father’s eye. Big Calvin was a great all-around athlete, football, basketball, baseball and his first love boxing–he excelled in them all.
Little Alexis grew up to be a decent athlete but nothing like his father. Sometimes Calvin pushed him a little too hard not wanting to show favoritism and little Alexis would rebel. When Calvin suffered a stroke and died suddenly in January 2010 it shook up the community and especially little Alexis. Calvin was 60 years old.
I tried to become a mentor to little Alexis, but he was stubborn like his father and I eventually lost him when I moved to Bowie, Maryland. Someone shot and killed him in the streets of SE DC.
That is me with my left arm wrapped around little Alexis and my right arm wrapped around gospel singer Robin ‘Sugar’ Williams. We were the guest of gospel artist Ed Gerald on his gospel television show on TV 7 in NW DC.
That is little Alexis standing front and center at my annual Kids In Trouble Christmas toy party. NFL legend Jim Brown is Santa’s Helper at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in NW DC.
Children from all walks of life enjoy a Kids In Trouble toy party at the Marriott Hotel in Rosslyn, Virginia.
Calvin Woodland is seen here with me and Don King. He stood 5’3 but walked around in his SE neighborhood like Wilt Chamberlaim. There was no Napoleon complex with him. The likes of Calvin Woodland has been replaced by hustlers and frauds claiming to “Make Children First”!
This is for the kids who die to include eleven year old Karon Brown and the late Alexis Woodland all black young men. It does not matter whether they were killed in the streets of DC or in Chicago by a cop’s gun or in the halls and classrooms of Sandy Hook, Columbine and Parkland by a classmate’s gun, but kids are certainly dying. There are good cops and bad cops, the good cops go along to get along. Their problem, they lack courage to say, “Enough is enough”. The old and rich will live on awhile, as always, living in their gated communities, eating caviar and lining their pockets with gold, while letting little kids die.
Kids have died in the swamps of Mississippi organizing sharecroppers, kids have died in the orange groves of California just for telling others to organize and stick together, but kids have certainly died.
While, blacks, whites, Latinos, and Mexicans all kinds of kids will die because they don’t believe in stealing other people’s ideas and making them their own while becoming wealthy, selfish and dysfunctional, or the Capitol Hill gun lobbyist who tell lies, and bribe anybody and everybody at any cost.
There are politicians on both sides of the isle who are there to serve themselves and not the people—all the reasons while kids have died.
The wise of course and the learned will pen Fake News editorials in the papers, and the ladies and gents with Dr. in front of their names, white and black will live on pretending not to know or understand what is going on—while kids die.
There will be surveys and written reports with words to smother the kids who die.
And the sleazy courts and sleazy attorneys, and the bribe-taking police, and the blood-loving generals, and the money-loving preachers, will all raise their hands against the kids who will die, beating them with made up laws and clubs and bayonets and bullets, to frighten the people.
For the kids who die are like iron in the blood of the people—and the old and rich don’t want the people to taste the iron of the kids who die. They don’t want the people to get wise to their own power to believe in our youth of today, or even get together and listen to kids who die—Maybe, there will be no monument for them except in our hearts.
Maybe their bodies will be lost in swamp or a prison grave, or the potter’s field, or the jail where they are hung by their necks and they will call it suicide.
But the day will come—you can be assured that it is coming—when the marching feet of the masses will rise up for the kids who died with a living monument of love, and joy, and laughter. And black hands and white hands are joined together, with a song that reaches the sky—the song of the life triumphant–for the kids who died.