as a time former KCTV firebrand Dave Helling was in a league of his own.
Head and shoulders above most local television news anchors and their stereotypically vanilla ways. Borderline cutting edge even. Enough so that Helling was invited tom write a column for a local alternative news publication.
His “truth watch” busting bogus local political ads set a standard above and beyond the phony, politically-based “fact checkers” of today.
Unfortunately, Helling’s different drumbeat approach fell short of the mark at KCTV and they cut him loose. That’s when I stepped in and arranged for Helling to come to KC Star publisher Art Brisbane’s 2008 going away bash at Knucklehead’s that I had organized. And there I introduced Helling to Star editor Mark Zieman, who snapped him up almost immediately and remade him as a columnist.
Unfortunately it proved a bit of a stretch, and despite Helling’s high profile, he withered away.
Turns out being a TV newsie and an actual journalist are two different things.
But with Zieman atop the Star’s management slag heap, until recently, Helling managed to survive, landing a slot on the newspaper’s all-knowing editorial board.
That said, it’s not easy hanging onto a paycheck for a long-in-the-tooth, white-as-a-sheet male at a bankrupt newspaper going through endless succession of layoffs and pay cuts.
What better time to pen a politically correct column kissing up to your editorial board bosses, telling KC’s most famous, beloved personality, Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, to shape up and rid KC and the world of its unbelievably racist tomahawk chop.
Talk about mailing it in.
“Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes makes his voice heard. He should talk about the Tomahawk Chop,” the headline reads.
A little background.
For like decades the Kansas City Star and others have been chop shaming the Chiefs and Atlanta Braves to get them to stop that goofy football chant Florida State invented.
And every so many years, someone in the media digs up a Native American or three to explain how disrespectful the cheer is. Followed at times by the Chiefs choking out some cash and digging up some other Native Americans to say it’s no big deal.
To date – forgiver me for what I’m about to say – it’s been a Mexican standoff.
Ah, but now that Mahomes has elected to weigh in on the George Floyd police killing and says he plans to continue to speak truth to power, Helling stumbled onto a genius column idea; use what’s left of the Star’s editorial clout to shame the Chiefs QB into entering into the anti chop fray.
“Speaking out and declaring that ‘Black lives matter’ took courage and self-awareness,” Helling writes. “Mahomes could remain silent and simply enjoy his money and fame, and no one would think less of him for it. He is just 24 years old.”
Wait a minute.,”no one would think less of him,” Helling says tries to shame Mahomes into doing his, uh, bidding?
“The Chiefs overuse native symbols, particularly the Tomahawk Chop, in marketing and on game day,” Helling continues. “Many Native American groups find the chop offensive and want it to stop.”
More importantly, of course, “The Star Editorial Board has called for a new tradition,” Helling continues “and an end to this affront to Native Americans. But the team and thousands of fans have resisted. The chop goes on.”
Seriously, does Helling remember how Chiefs and fans reacted to Tyreek Hill’sastonishingly crude and scary remarks and treatment of his young son and his ex?
They couldn’t care less – just win, baby!
On top of which – Helling points out – Mahomes himself has used the chop to rev up Chiefs fans during games.
“Surely (Mahomes) now recognizes that the chop is unnecessary and provocative, and is particularly offensive at this moment,”Helling says .
“All Americans, (Mahomes) knows, deserve to be treated with respect – not reduced to a stereotype in a meaningless chant,” Helling adds.
Talk about trying to put words into Mahomes’ mouth.
Helling even has a strategy for Mahomes to inch his way into being woke.
“Mahomes could start small by ending his own use of the chop on the field,” Helling says. “Once he’s comfortable with that, he could suggest his teammates stop doing it. Then he could ask fans in the seats – assuming there are any – to knock it off, too.”
“The nation rightly cringes each time football fans watch a Chiefs game,” Helling continues.
Just one problem.
Helling is so busy trying to kiss up to the Star editorial board that he ignores the obvious:
Chiefs and NFL fans are pretty much the polar opposites of bleeding heart liberal journalists.
“I went to the most obnoxious parade of all time when the Chiefs won the Super Bowl,’ says one local businesswoman. “Does Helling think Chiefs fans give a rip about the tomahawk chop? I saw the crowd cheer when Tyreek Hill was grabbing his crotch on stage while holding his son. You would think people would cringe at that. Which does he think is more cringeworthy – that or the tomahawk chop?”
Helling concludes with a lame confession:
“The chop teaches us nothing about Native Americans or their culture. Of course, it isn’t fair to put this much pressure on Patrick Mahomes. But it’s his burden, nonetheless.
“In 1971, singer George Harrison referred to using ‘Beatle power’ when he organized a charity concert for Bangladesh. If you have to be famous, he thought, you might as well use it for good. Mahomes isn’t a Beatle, but he’s close. So let’s hope for another video soon from the Chiefs’ star quarterback. ‘I’m not doing the chop anymore,’ he could say. ‘I hope you’ll join me.’ ”
In the scheme of things these days – pandemics, riots, phony impeachments, cancelled sporting events and gosh know what all – is this really the time to call out Patrick Mahomes to bring an end to a meaningless, goofy football fan chant?
Still, I’m old enough to remember when Dave Helling made his bones with aggressive reporting and editorial stances on matters of substance.
Time flies, right?
(For more Hearne, go to kcconfidential.com)