Miami football: Coaches speak out against characterization of Hurricane players as ‘thugs’

Whether it’s the persistence of the 1980’s stereotype, a reaction to the Turnover Chain, or simply a manifestation of jealousy, social media users have apparently been calling Miami football players “thugs.”

Miami offensive coordinator Thomas Brown had a strong message for those people Tuesday.

“I get irritated hearing some comments that people make about our players, historically, our players, currently, using the words like ‘thug,’” Brown said, according to Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post.  “That’s idiotic, people. You don’t know our kids at all. Because they enjoy it, they show up and have a good time in a respectful way.

“We don’t get flags. We don’t do disrespectful stuff outside the football field. Judge us by that, instead of giving your own notion about what you think a thug is — because I could direct your attention toward the true thugs around this country that aren’t our guys at all.”

Ryan Yousefi of the Miami New Times published a story Tuesday that compiled several tweets calling Miami players “thugs.” A few of the tweets are shown below.

Yousefi also railed against the use of the word “thug,” calling it racist. He included a quote from John McWhorter, a professor at Columbia University, who said, “The truth is that ‘thug’ today is a nominally polite way of using the N-word.”

Porter listed several reasons why characterizing Miami as a team full of thugs is inaccurate. For instance, the Hurricanes were No. 1 in the FBS last year in the NCAA’s community service competition, in which players are required to put in hours in the offseason visiting parks, schools and places of charity.

Porter also mentioned players like has players like Demetrius Jackson, who has vocalized his lofty political goals and desire to help his troubled hometown; Chad Thomas, who recently organized a Christmas toy drive; and Braxton Berrios, who Tuesday was announced as a semifinalist for a national “man of the year” award.

Head coach Mark Richt also combatted the “thug” notion Tuesday, especially when it comes to the Turnover Chain.

“I don’t see our guys taunting anybody or making fun of anybody,” Richt said. “I see them just enjoying the pure joy of making a big play and having your teammates and fans celebrate with you.”

In the eyes of some uninformed individuals, Miami may never completely shake its “thug” reputations from the days of “Catholics vs. Convicts.” Brown, Richt, Porter and Yousefi, however, all provide reasons why that epithet is incorrect and insulting when applied to this year’s Hurricanes.

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