Long, long road

Somehow, I missed this Patrick Garbin interview with former Georgia linebacker Demetrius Douglas, but came across it yesterday and had to share one passage with y’all.

UGASports: Can you explain further what we’ve heard before—that even 15 years or so after the first black players integrated the program, there still could be a strong sense of team division at Georgia because of race even as late as the 1980s?

Douglas: “I’ll give you my experience. I went from Ohio, where the street I lived on was a melting pot of all kinds of kids playing together and getting along—to College Park, where I attended a predominantly black school while playing on predominantly black teams. So, when I got to predominantly white UGA, it was strange to be playing with some white guys who had actually never had a black teammate before. With some of them, and even others who’d played with blacks before, there was often a feeling that although we were on the same team, we were separate.”

UGASports: And, you actually tried to “break barriers,” so to speak, between certain white players and black teammates, correct?

Douglas: “Yeah, I guess you could say I tried to break barriers (chuckling). So, one day while eating at our athletic dorm’s dining hall, I sat down at a table of white guys, who all instantly got up and moved as soon as I sat down. Well, to be funny, I continued to sit down with those same white players—and with one white guy in particular—and every time, he’d get up and leave. Then, me and a few other players started sitting down with the white player—and, each time we’d sit down, he would get up and leave without even saying anything. Around the time this was going on, I was out in Athens one night with several players, and this white player happened to be at the same bar. After having never talked to us when we sat down at his table, he finally spoke: ‘Why did you guys start sitting at my table?’ I first replied with, ‘We knew you didn’t like it,’ but then added that we mostly wanted to show him that there was little difference between us and him. ‘We’re just like you,’ I told him.”

UGASports: Did anything positive result from your interaction with the white player?

Douglas: “Man, it was unbelievable. Next thing you know, over a couple of beers, we (Douglas and some black teammates) became great teammates with not only this one particular white player, but other white teammates, as well. Suddenly, these white players supported us out in public—like when some fraternity guys would start calling us names, the white players would take up for us. These were the same guys who only months, maybe even weeks before, couldn’t even stand to sit and eat with us. Now, it was like we were more together, like a team.”

That’s from the late eighties.  After Herschel Walker carried the team to a national championship.  I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like for black players from the seventies integrating football teams.

Also, where the hell was Dooley when this was going on?

21 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

21 responses to “Long, long road

  1. J.R. Clark

    Coach Dooley was a product of segregated Catholic school Mobile and segregated SEC Auburn. The first black football players at UGA – Larry West, Horace King, Clarence Pope, Chuck Kinnebrew, and Richard Appleby – arrived in 1971, less than 10 years before Herschel. The coaching staff probably felt they were promoting equality by treating the entire team the same way as one former Green Bay Packer said of Vince Lombardi, ”He treats us all the same — like dogs. ”

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    • Ran A

      I get it. But by the late 80’s? Seriously? I was in my late 20’S. That shipped had sailed and was well into the ocean. This was one of the most shocking articles I’ve read in a long time. Georgia had two back to back black QB’S in the mid-80’s. I just assumed that the team was further along than it obviously was. Dooley could have done better than this…

      Liked by 4 people

      • 79dawg

        Well, just a few years later we have the infamous Vandy homecoming laydown…

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      • dawg100

        I agree. I was there in 1980 on. Many football playing friends. This may not be Jussie Smollett, but it IS an embellishment.

        Liked by 5 people

        • 79dawg

          The notion that any significant portion of white players had never played with black players before college, by the ’80s, is simply ridiculous, unless he sat down at the one table the private school kids or kids from the mountains ate at….

          Liked by 2 people

          • Derek

            No kids from the mountains were playing at UGA in those years.

            Not sure how many private school kids were. Wouldn’t imagine very many.

            That said the idea that UGA in the late 1980’s was a post racial mecca of understanding and unity isn’t right either.

            Could’ve been better. Could have worse. Wouldn’t surprise me at all that for a few kids on the roster that sharing things, other than the field, fell somewhere between new and uncomfortable.

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          • classiccitycanine

            So you’re calling him a liar? Says more about you than him.

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            • 79dawg

              No, I’m say we all have a tendency to exaggerate, aggrandize things and view things through a lens that fits our own narrative or the narrative we want to project, particularly 30-40 years removed from events….
              But as a factual matter, the notion that by the mid-80s, some of the white players had never had a black teammate is simply not possible…

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              • debbybalcer

                It is easy to see things through our own lens then realize what we see is not all that is there. Just because they played together does not mean they were teammates in a real sense. Ben Watson tells a story in his book Under Our Skin that shows real understanding is still being built.

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              • classiccitycanine

                You’re saying he’s not telling the truth and you have no evidence for saying that. Are you trying to deflect from the story?

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        • Greg

          agree…..played in the late 70’s. Probably 60% or more of my teammates were black. We all were friends and brothers, still are.

          And this was growing up in south Georgia…..and embellishment indeed, thought so when I first read it.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I was in school at the time. Knew plenty of players, managers and trainers. Dooley had checked out. he was more concerned about running for governor, or senator, or whatever his last couple of years.

    The 88 team should have been a real contender….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Derek

      Averaging over 400 yards rushing a game and then…. Columbia.

      We got brutalized that day. I’ve seen us get beat, sometimes badly. Not sure I’ve seen a physical whipping like that tho. I don’t know what we do to inspire the gamecocks but we certainly do it.

      Then we had the revenge of Alfred Rawls game in Lexington.

      Winning at auburn that year was always going to be problematic. They were just flat better than us.

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    • biggusrickus

      The ’87 team was better, if for no other reason than James Jackson, for his shortcomings, was a better player than Wayne Johnson. The defense was also better than it was in ’88. That team could have and maybe should have been undefeated going to Auburn.

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  3. I assume he was making his garden “buttah and buttah.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. whybotherdude

    Damn shame, that teammates still felt that way, ever, but at that date is shocking.

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  5. I don’t buy it. I am sure he experienced racism then and now as many do, but this story sounds like some made up shit straight out of “Remember The Titans.” Politicians always exaggerate.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. RangerRuss

    I made a lot of friends over a cold beer and/or a smoke. Break down many barriers that way.

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