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November 22, 2016

NFL player from North Philly's name sparks a Twitter freak-out

I don’t know Joe Biggs, aka @RamboBiggs, aka “Trump. Army Vet. SJW Destroyer," whose Twitter profile photos speak to big-time gun enthusiasm and Facebook profile speaks to an InfoWars reportorial gig that "triggered" Danny Glover when the DNC came to Philly this summer.

And, I don’t know Jihad Ward, aka @JIHADWARD17, aka defensive end for the Oakland Raiders, aka a North Philly product who played high-school football at Bok Technical High.

I'm sure they're both great people deep down inside.

But I do know that Biggs was seemingly taken aback by Ward’s first name on Twitter at some point during the Monday Night Football game that the player’s team won 27-20 over the Houston Texans.

To wit:

[Warning: Some tweets contain offensive language.]

You see, jihad is an Islamic term regarding Muslims’ duty to spread the tenets of their religion. That’s also been interpreted to describe a religion's purported war of apocalyptic violence against non-believers.

With the political climate being what it is today, it's surprising someone didn’t come along before Week 11 of Ward’s rookie season to make that all-so-logical connection between a name and a threat to American civilization.

Sure, I’ll buy Biggs’ twas-only-a-joke explanation laid bare in his last tweet on the matter:

But no, I won’t let the ignorance that flung forth like feces at a zoo wall in the responses to the SJW destroyer’s Tweet.

Let’s take a looksee, shall we?

(Uh, he’s from Philadelphia. Which is where American democracy was born, boyo.)

(Uh, I’m a Broncos fan, so I can get with the whole hating on the Raiders thing. But I also have more than three brain cells in operation, so I’m not going to include someone’s birth name in that list.)

(Its penchant to leave players’ brains scrambled? Yes. A young man’s name? No.)

(WTF does this even mean, Mr. Russian-American Nationalist?)

Listen, I get it. America’s an angry place right now. But how about we just walk back from the ledge of taking alleged jokes as call-of-duty gospel and think before we lash out, k? 

Ward's first name is no more emblematic of a hatred of all things American than Van Dyke's name is emblematic of walking genitalia.

In any event, I got in touch with a couple locals who know Ward from his time in Philadelphia. Rather than fear of what his name means in other iterations, they spoke of a great guy who set the standard for effort in his playing career.

Vince Bashir met Ward when he went to Bok with Bashir's son Omar.

"The first day I met him, I was impressed. A respectful young man. 'Yes, sir; no, sir.' 'Yes, ma'am, no, ma'am,'" Bashir said. "I wish he was my son because he does everything right. This is no sugar coating: He's a straight-up hard worker. This kid is an awesome, special kid. He'd never let anybody tell him he couldn't do what he wanted to do with his life, and look how he turned out."

Kelly Cottle, a well-known figure within Philadelphia Public League football circles, concurred.

"He's a great dude," said Cottle. "He is the perfect story of somebody who just made something of himself because he never gave up on himself. They're barking up the wrong tree with that dude, just because his mother named him that 22 years ago."

Oh yeah, for what it's worth, Jihad Ward has 16 combined tackles through the first 10 games of his professional career. 

Keep up the hard work, Jihad. You're doing North Philadelphia proud.