Everyone Is Entitled To My Opinion- On Bigotry

by Paul Big Bear

Dear Friends,

       I remember in 1971 watching something new on TV, a “made for TV movie” Brian’s Song. The story was that of Gayle Sayers and Brian Piccolo team mates on the Chicago Bears, Gayle a black player and Brian white both running backs looking for starting positions. As they work their hardest to make starting position on the team Piccolo is the practical joker playing pranks on Sayers from the moment they meet. Sayers excels but Piccolo impresses the coaching staff with his determination and hard work. At a time (1965) when black players and white players did not mix and the country was still segregated the Chicago Bears decided to make them roommates. The film was very well written as was Galye Sayers book “I Am Third” chronicling their friendship that grew from being team mates and roommates.

On scene with “Pic” reading letters from football fans reads one addressed to him, regaling how terrible it is a black player and a white player are rooming together, obviously a letter written by a prejudiced white and saying that he must be a real low life inserting strong bigotry feelings, ending the reading, when Gayle asks who it is from with, Love Mom. Again when Gayle’s leg is injured and he comes home on crutches he finds Brian in his basement setting up a leg extension machine to aid his full recovery. Soon they are working hard to rehabilitate the knee to one hundred percent as Piccolo explains he won’t accept making the team and the position unless he wins it competing with Sayers at his best. At one point Brian is pushing Gayle to perform five more reps in the leg machine a bigoted name, they Gayle begins laughing, Pic says “what did you want me to call you a (slander name for an Italian) to which the normally stoic Sayers replies “Now that would get me mad.” As they laugh crazy the wives (now best friends) come down asking “What’s going on” Gayle says “Pic called me a N….” They both make the team and their friendship keeps growing, suddenly the coaches become concerned when Brian begins losing weight and slowing down.

They determine that he needs to be diagnosed at a hospital where it is determined that he has cancer. Gayle’s speech asking for the teams prayers and stating that he loves Brian Piccolo and “I want you to love him too” as he  battles to beat this disease the wives supporting each other culminating with the hospital bed scene with Gayle being strong for his best friend, the wives and he there for each other as Brian Piccolo dies, making this THE “Guy Cry” movie. As I watched it I was saddened that the station decided to mute out the parts that made bigoted references. The strength of this movie was the honest and emotional portrayal of these men who stood up to the ridicule and threats of ridiculous bigotry. They not only stood up to it they made major advances toward showing the stupidity of it and ending this ridiculous segregation mentality. Hiding, masking, deleting the truth of history undoes all the good that has been fought for by denying the truth of how bigotry and prejudice can be beaten. This movie is a true monument to that and can be seen even through tears.


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