Battle of the Sexes: Super Bowl Champs Edition

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When two Super Bowl Champions (also both on the Seattle Seahawks All-Decade Team) who are used to always winning suddenly experience an epic loss…they must be going head-to-head with their wives. No contest here. On today’s episode, Cliff Avril and his wife Tia Avril join Michael and Pele for a fierce conversation on the role of women in the NFL, and the sports and media world in general. Whose responsibility is it to stand up for women’s rights and equality in sports? What should the NFL do to take big steps forward on this issue?


[00:32] Michael Bennett: Hello, everybody. You’re listening to Mouthpeace with Michael and Pele. Today we’ve got some special guests, Cliff Avril and Tia Avril, two outstanding human beings, two great parents and just two people that are doing a lot of things in the community. Me and Cliff go way back. We won a Super Bowl together. A lot of people don’t get to do that shit, but we did it.  

But this is a good conversation because we also — there’s not a lot of relationships in sports where you take it off the field. I think our families have been pretty close, traveling together and doing different things together. So it’s good to have you guys on.


[01:22] Tia Avril: Thanks for having us. 


[01:23] Cliff Avril: Yes, sir. Appreciate it. I appreciate you guys having us. You guys are my family, so ain’t nothing. 


[01:28] Pele Bennett: Our kids are friends also. 


[01:30] Cliff Avril: They might talk more than us. 


[01:43] Michael Bennett: But it’s interesting that we talk about the Super Bowl because we’re here in Miami. And I think we all did radio row. That shit’s kind of tiring. I don’t know if I like it that much. 


[01:57] Tia Avril: You know what I will say? Radio row here was a lot more calm than it was in Minnesota. So in Minnesota, it was completely chaotic because it was in the middle of the mall. You had fans all around. It was a mess. This was a lot more calm.


[02:17] Cliff Avril: But it puts things in perspective on how big the NFL is.


[02:20] Michael Bennett: The NFL is a powerhouse. People forget that people bid on the Super Bowl like the Olympics. When the Super Bowl comes to your town, it changes everything about your city as far as money. They always stay in certain areas and never really reach out that much. But when they do, it’s crazy. 


[02:38] Pele Bennett: Yeah. And Michael was telling me that it’s a lot of work. And I was like, “oh no, it’s fine, I’ll stay there all day. Let’s go.” And then when we got there halfway through, I thought, you know what? I was wrong. But I have to say to both of you guys, good job, because that’s a lot. 


[02:54] Tia Avril: I texted her, too. I was like, I should’ve stayed at the hotel until like one. 


[03:00] Cliff Avril: I told her, look, I’m gonna be doing this all day. Like, you probably don’t want to do this. 


[03:02] Michael Bennett: It’s a lot of work. Sometimes I would go to L.A. and I would be working in L.A., but it’d be like a whole different scene. It’s just so much sometimes. After two days in L.A. or New York, I’m just like, I’m burnt out. 

[03:19] Cliff Avril: But you know what? How I view it, it’s no different from what we did in the NFL from the standpoint of like it’s going to take the same type of energy and same type of work if you really want to be good at it. And for me, that’s kind of my goal. So, yeah, you’re gonna have to get your reps just like you gotta get to reps in football. It’s just starting all over, which sometimes for us is scary because we’ve been doing it for so long.


[03:45] Michael Bennett: One thing on a radio row we ran into, we were on the show Mad Dog and he said something that we thought was very interesting. I don’t think it was a bad thing. I think it was just an observation. He said normally I wouldn’t have a husband and wife on my show, especially in the sports world. He said since it’s us, he was like, OK, we’ll have you on. I feel that in sports sometimes the wives get isolated. I don’t know why they do that. But it just makes everybody forget how important our wives are. And it’s like they won’t give him the time of day or they won’t give them the opportunity to have the same quality of shows that we have. And it’s like they play such a big part in our lives. But it was just interesting that somebody with a wife would actually say something like that.


[04:31] Cliff Avril: But I also think it’s rare to have a wife — that dynamic being displayed as well. I mean, like you and Pele, myself and my wife. But you walk into a locker room, there’s a high possibility it might be just us two that are married. And so that’s lacking, too. But it’s also because guys are young.


[04:53] Tia Avril: I think that’s more people continuously disregarding women. It goes beyond the sports realm in general. Like this is applicable to many industries. I think, of course, for me in the sports realm, it’s a little disheartening because we know what we go through, and everything that we put up with. We have a lot to say. I mean, to get in front of someone and they say, “I wouldn’t talk to you, but I since you’re Mike’s wife, I’ll talk to you.” I ain’t want to talk to you anyway, if you really want to know! 


[05:26] Pele Bennett: A lot of the questions were, to be honest, they were directed to him for specific things. But some of them are general questions that were football questions. Now they could have asked me, because I was still there.


[05:36] Tia Avrilt: My point exactly. You were there promoting your podcast. That’s you and Mike together. So you better prepare yourself and be prepared to ask me questions, too. Because this is my project. 


[05:45] Pele Bennett: But I’m glad they did it because I was like, I don’t know. 


[05:48] Cliff Avril: Now I will say with me, obviously, having done and having a radio show, I think it’s obviously easier to ask Mike questions because there’s more information out on Mike than, say, you, Pele. And I’m not giving him a pass.

[06:03] Michael Bennett: I decided I wouldn’t do any shows unless they would take me and my wife, because a lot of shows wanted me just come on by myself. I was like, what’s the point of coming to do a show about myself if I’m here to promote my podcast? 


[06:18] Cliff Avril: No, I agree with that. What I’m saying is, as far as questions as a radio personality, like I would have more questions for you than I have for Pele.


[06:27] Tia Avril: But if you’re doing your job correctly and you are a journalist, like you say you should be, then if you have some people on your show, then you should be able to come up with some questions for her, too, because you know that she’s coming to promote her project. 


[06:49] Pele Bennett: Because some of the questions could have been about the podcast, but they weren’t looking at me for the answer. And I know it’s probably more exciting, they probably want to hear his take on it. But like you said, we both were there. 


[07:02] Michael Bennett: Obviously as women, you guys see the gender dynamics in sports. And I think it does go to a level where women aren’t really respected in sports, even if they look at the WNBA, the WNBA had to go to all this shit just to get normal pay.Their stars can’t even get what the benchwarmer in the NBA is making, the towel boys. 


[07:26] Tia Avril: They got to get a second jobs! 


[07:27] Michael Bennett: Guys that aren’t even playing are etting $5 million. And you got the best players in WNBA not even making $500,000. 


[07:38] Pele Bennett: Even in the room at radio row, there weren’t any women interviewing anyone. 


[07:43] Tia Avril: Most of them are like publicists and marketing agents. 


[07:48] Pele Bennett: Yeah, they weren’t behind the mic. And so I thought that was interesting that it was older white males that were predominately the ones that were doing the interviews. 


[07:55] Cliff Avril: Well, that’s the common denominator in America.


[07:58] Michael Bennett: What people don’t really understand when we ask for equality and things — I mean, I think players getting bigger contracts is important, but I do think people changing everything about sports, whether it’s the president of the team, there’s not many black coaches, not many black general managers. When you do see somebody, that’s an outlier in a sport where the talent is completely African-American. You look at the league, I bet it’s like 85 percent African-American. And at the same time, you look at the front office, I bet it’s like 5 percent, which is sad. And women? Even less than that. African-American women? Zero. 


[08:49] Cliff Avril: But again, going back to America’s way, like that’s kind of what it is, right? You take yourself outside of sports, you look at corporate America. Same concept. It’s a bunch of old white men that don’t want to give up their power. I was having a conversation with somebody recently where we’re talking about the coaches getting jobs. They rather hire a 32-year-old coach than a black coordinator that’s been doing it for 20 years and still can’t get the doggone opportunity. And what it boils down to is they are comfortable talking to people that look just like them. And that’s not an excuse. That’s not a pass. It’s the reality of it. They got to get out of their comfort zone because everybody else is out of their comfort zone. Why should they be out of their comfort zone?


[09:35] Michael Bennett: Because the fans don’t allow them to be out of their comfort zones. I think it’s definitely the fans. The people who are watching the game, they’re usually the white males, so they like seeing those people in those positions.


[09:56] Tia Avril: I don’t know if that’s true. 


[10:06] Michael Bennett: The demographic for the NFL is middle-aged white men between 21 and 35. I mean more white people watch football. That’s just a fact. 


[10:21] Cliff Avril: There’s just more white people in America. I think there’s more white people that go to games because they can afford the ticket. Like that’s the difference.


[10:31] Pele Bennett: Going to a game is an expensive day. 


[10:36] Cliff Avril: But as far as watching games, I think most black males in America, that’s all they watch.


[10:45] Tia Avril: Yeah, I think actually the viewership is more diverse. 


[10:54] Pele Bennett: You think of  football, you think it’s all males. No, a lot of women are fans, they also know their stuff. Like they know their stats. They know their history. 


[11:05] Michael Bennett: I’m saying that the games are catered more to men. Look at the commercials. 


[11:12] Tia Avril: That doesn’t mean that that’s the viewership. 


[11:23] Cliff Avril: I get what you’re saying, but I’m also saying that they cater to the folks that’s going to go out and buy. Unfortunately, we follow that trend, too. And that’s part of the problem, too. Like it’s the “oh, they’re doing it, so that must be the right way of doing it.” 


[11:42] Tia Avril: Define we. 


[11:45] Cliff Avril: I mean, we do what we want to do. I’m saying in general, though, like when we see most products, they have white folks on there. And to a lot of people like it’s the whole success thing. Right. Oh, that’s what success looks like. So they put that on TV and you assume that’s what you need to do or get to to be like them. I think it’s unfortunate.


[12:09] Pele Bennett: Are you talking like material things? 


[12:11] Cliff Avril: Yes. Yes. 


[12:13] Pele Bennett: I feel like black people push the culture, even in the brands that maybe white people are purchasing.


[12:27] Michael Bennett: I still feel like the NFL or sports in general when you talk about the wholeness of these sports, I feel like they cater more to white demographics. I mean, in their defense, just like you said, they see they want to see. Fans control what the league does. If the fans want to see a certain player, they buy their jerseys so their player is going to be uplifted more. When Kaepernick took a knee and fans really cared, then everything would have changed. It didn’t because it didn’t really bothered them. They were more offended by what he did than actually being like, oh, he’s doing this and it’s the right thing to do. They were like, you’re stopping our game, you’re offending us. Fans control everything that the league does because that’s their moneymaker. The consumer is the audience that they’re building everything for. 


[13:27] Cliff Avril: Man, you probably don’t remember this. We had an NFLPA meeting one time and I was asking the rep, why aren’t there more black folks getting these major deals? And I was talking about JJ Watt and some of these other guys that get all these, you know, the Papa John’s at the time, or whatever the heck the pizza is that sponsors the league right now. And he told me flat-out that’s what the companies want. 


[13:54] Michael Bennett: So you agree with me?


[13:59] Cliff Avril: I said that. I said more white people go to games. They buy tickets, you can’t afford them. So, yes, you cater to the people that are going to come to the game and is going to spend money with you. 


[14:09] Tia Avril: Just bringing it back to the gender thing, I think that is gonna take people like you and Cliff to be more forthcoming with, like, you have to hear what my wife has to say. You have to respect that she has an opinion and has things to say. Because they are going to disregard us because that’s what they have continuously done in the past. It is gonna take you guys changing their notion, like even something as simple as when we go into these social settings and you all introduce yourselves to people, or people come up to meet, if y’all don’t turn around and say, oh, and this is my wife — it takes nothing for you to say, and this is my wife, and acknowledge me. Now, if it’s somebody that Cliff has met before, then I know the routine. Nine times out of 10, he probably don’t remember their name, which is why he does not initiate that.

[15:08] Cliff Avril: 1,000 percent. 


[15:14] Tia Avril: Y’all have to get better at just acknowledging us and making sure our presence is known in the room.


[15:18] Michael Bennett: But that’s the reason why we’re doing the podcast. I thought it was important to make sure that people understood this is a package deal. I’m not going to come do a show if you’re not going to have my wife on, acknowledging that she has a voice in this whole thing. 


[15:32] Pele Bennett: But then she was funny that you said that because in the beginning I was saying, oh, well, if he needs to talk about football, because this is, you know, football week, I was like, go ahead and do it. And I think that also takes my part to realize that and be like, no, I do need to say something. I do need to speak. At the same time, I was trying to play the game. Sometimes you kind of have to know how to play in it also. And I think it’s one of those times that I was trying to figure it out also. 


[16:01] Michael Bennett: The wife should also have the confidence to be like, I’m here, you got to hear me. 


[16:15] Tia Avril: But sometimes the women that do that, y’all be looking like, OK she doing too much. 


[16:26] Pele Bennett: Or when you speak up, it’s not even acknowledged. I have been in spaces where I’m like, hi, I’m Pele, really speaking up. And nothing.


[16:35] Michael Bennett: I think it’s business. If I’m in the podcast space with my wife, I feel like she should demand her respect at all times. If a woman goes into business with her husband, if the woman has more fame than the husband, or the husband has more fame than a wife, if we go into something, you should already know that there’s going to be a part of the conversation. Don’t get offended when it happens, because nothing against you.


[17:39] Tia Avril: No, I disagree. Yes, you can walk into this space and be prepared. That’s one thing. But it still doesn’t mean that I don’t have a right to be offended. Right. Because the person is still being disrespectful by disregarding me. So, yes, I do need to be, you know, forthcoming and be strong and, you know, make sure my voice is be heard. But sometimes that shit is exhausting. 


[18:02] Michael Bennett: Well, what I’m saying, though, is that we know that might happen in the place but by the time we build up our company, that won’t be the case. 


[18:09] Pele Bennett: No, there will be times where me and you have been in different settings and all of the sudden my attitude comes out or it changes, and he’s like, what’s wrong? Like that one time we were with one of our friends, Aaron, and we were with a realtor. This is just an example. And he came up, said hello to both the males. I was standing like, right there, you can’t miss me. And so he just totally disregarded me. And I immediately got so upset. And I was trying to keep my composure. But Michael, not trying to blame you, but he didn’t say anything about it, which made me a little, you know. But our friend immediately came to me and was like, hey, what’s up? And I was like, what? And he goes, I just felt like the energy shifted. Everything changed. I’m like, OK. You saw what I saw. You know, so I think there are times where you might honestly not have noticed that.


[19:02] Michael Bennett: I may not see every single thing, but in a setting like that, you’re looking at a house. 


[19:09] Pele Bennett: And then the male always comes up with excuses.


[19:13] Michael Bennett: My mind was on the house and how much the house was gonna cost. 


[19:22] Tia Avril: At that point, though, I don’t even care about the house. I’m not giving you money. 


[19:33] Pele Bennett: We came in as a couple looking at a place that we’re purchasing together. So that was very rude.


[19:40] Cliff Avril: Yes. Is very rude. Very disrespectful. But at the same time, too, I think you have to understand your mate, too, and kind of give him grace. Sometimes he might not just see what you see, or he might not — 


[19:52] Michael Bennett: You know the man don’t get the benefit of the doubt. But at the same time, fuck it.  I fucked up. I was just focused on the house more than I was everything else.


[20:31] Pele Bennett: That’s just one of many examples. I feel like it has happened a lot and I’m not trying to blame you, but it has went over your head where you didn’t notice that. But I also think that you can’t connect, to be honest, in that way because you haven’t experienced it. And I don’t know if you will.


[20:48] Michael Bennett: That’s unfair because sometimes I feel like in a conversation with women and men, women come from a space where they say that men don’t understand. 


[21:00] Pele Bennett: If you’re not putting any effort into trying to understand or try to process, then yeah, that’s a problem. 


[21:14] Michael Bennett: I’m saying that there’s stuff that women understand that they do. Men, we have stuff that we go through that you guys don’t go through. 


[21:32] Tia Avril: She wasn’t blaming you. 


[21:37] Pele Bennett: But I’ve seen it both ways. I think for the other person to really listen to the person on whatever the issue, whatever happened, instead of just saying, “no, that that didn’t happen to you, I didn’t see that.” Disregarding the situation. Just be like, you know what? I didn’t notice that. But let me take some time to think and try to understand. You know, sometimes it might take a day, two days to really even try to kind of get to what that felt to her. 


[24:38] Michael Bennett: I mean, at the same time, like from a business perspective, if you’re doing business with your wife and if somebody is not respecting her business-wise, you still defend them. But I still feel like if women have to be defended by men forever and ever and ever, then nobody’s ever going to respect their position. It is until women stood up for their own — until they stood up and did the women’s march.


[25:05] Pele Bennett: Damn right, you should step up every time until it becomes equal! I don’t think that a woman should depend on a man to do that.


[25:15] Tia Avril: Because I’m not depending on you or anybody else to make sure my voice is being heard. But I’m saying every time, you need to back me up.


[25:23] Cliff Avril: You shouldn’t depend on that solely. Like you should be able to defend yourself. And I got your back when you do defend yourself. And if I slip up and miss the disrespect, you should address it every go round.


[25:45] Michael Bennett: If I’m in business with you and you’ve got a dance company who might come in there and they’re gonna skip past me automatically because I don’t know shit dance. They’re gonna respect your body of work first. So I’m not going to get offended by that. 


[26:10] Pele Bennett: I don’t think you can even say I’m not going to get offended by that because every situation would be different. You can’t tell someone you shouldn’t get offended by that. Whatever they’re feeling at that moment or they’re going through, they’re going to go through that regardless. 


[26:29] Michael Bennett: I don’t care what they say, no matter what they do. If they mention me first or they mention you first or whoever first is something the person is you, they should use that platform and springboard past the small-mindedness of the individual who’s keeping them from their goal. I think the business will propel. But if every single bump that comes along, then we’re never gonna reach our potential because we’re gonna be too busy fighting over —  


[27:14] Tia Avril: It’s not the notion of you being the most popular person when you walk into an NFL radio row. It’s just a complete disregard of a female’s voice.


[27:21] Pele Bennett: Yeah. That’s what it was. We’re coming in together to do one thing together, you know? And I think your example was a little off to me because you don’t even know — like if you knew something about dancing or something, that’s differently. But if we’re coming into certain spaces, for example, radio row together for the podcast, and you specifically asked not to be asked any football questions and you still were. So that’s what I’m saying is that we came in together and for one thing and it was not football. 

[27:51] Michael Bennett: Yeah, but what I’m saying though is even though that happened, we still had the opportunity to grow our business.


[27:59] Tia Avril: Let’s be clear. Even this situation, it ain’t stoppin’ nothing. We gonna keep on pushing through and we gonna keep on making shit happen because that’s just what women do in general. We are just noticing a situation. 


[28:21] Michael Bennett: As a male, we acknowledge that there’s a gender issue in America. I agree with you all.


[28:25] Pele Bennett: How about in your home? Let’s be honest, some people will say, oh, there’s issue an American, but they’re not even doing it in their own home is what I’m saying. Sometimes you have to look at yourself and how you’re acting and displaying yourself and how you treat others.


[28:52] Michael Bennett: That’s true. All the people who are listening, make sure you do what you do at home in the real world. But I guess the whole thing is that there is a gender inequality in the fan experience, and especially in the NFL. But I don’t actually know what to do about that. How do you even get past that? As a woman, what do you feel that the NFL should do, or sports in general, when you come into this realm of actually allowing women to have a voice, but not even just allowing the women to have a voice, but respecting that voice? Because there’s a difference.


[29:40] Pele Bennett: Do you feel males would respect that, though, with more women coming in? 


[29:44] Cliff Avril: At first no because it’s new. But we have to realize this, too. If the white males don’t care for another male with a different skin color, like it’s gonna be hard for just a female to even make that transition. They want that spot for themselves. 


[30:05] Michael Bennett: But what do you do, though? How do we draw that inequality out into the forefront for people to see, to have other people have this opportunity? Before we clean up that house, you need to clean up your own house. So how can we as players pull that out and give women more opportunities? 


[30:37] Tia Avril: I think it starts with the small things, like even the example I gave in social settings like you all — like, I know sometimes it can be absent-minded, it’s something that you all have to practice and be more intentional acknowledging us. And once y’all start forcing people to acknowledge our voice, then I think it’ll be a trickle-down effect. 


[31:00] Michael Bennett: I’m talking about we took a knee and we demanded something. How do we demand that women in the NFL, the women that watch the sport, how do we demand for them to have a voice? 


[31:19] Cliff Avril: I’m kind of going back to what I just said is it’s not even just the female plight. It’s everybody else’s plight. That’s the issue. Right. Like executives don’t like they don’t have black men in there. They don’t have women in there. They’re not giving it up to anybody. So it’s everybody else’s problem. 


[31:44] Michael Bennett: My problem with that is that like we have all these different social things every month. But the one thing that we have for women is breast cancer awareness.


[31:52] Tia Avril: And it’s not even breast cancer awareness anymore. It’s all of them.


[31:56] Michael Bennett: Yeah. Because some people got jealous or whatever. But should there be a women’s month within the NFL, in sports, to recognize the women who have put forth the game on their back? Somebody who’s been a part of the video, part of the management, part of the coaching, part of anything to do with sports, the wives, how can we be better at that? That’s really what I’m really trying to get down to. We’re talking about changing the way that gender is being seen within the NFL. It’s like if we could go through our individual battles, but as a holistic battle, what is it that we need to do to change that? 


[32:28] Pele Bennett: I honestly don’t know. But starting from the top, I think it’s respecting women in general. You’re talking about different people who are management, owners, in very high positions. I feel like the lack of respect for women in those positions also, there is none. I just feel like in any high position than a male has, if there is a woman that is next to him, she’s not. She’s behind him. And I just feel like there’s that lack of respect already in that space that women can’t hold these different positions of higher power. And that’s not, you know, highlighted. It would start from the top and would have to work its way down. I feel like if you start from the ground, I mean, that only does so much. If you want to kill it, you need to aim to the head.


[33:14] Michael Bennett: I also feel like the idea of women playing football is the answer, I don’t believe that’s the answer. But they try to do that. They showed a commercial with a woman playing. It’s very shallow. My question is what do women really want from the league? 


[33:45] Pele Bennett: I think if you were to ask different women in different positions — 


[33:53] Cliff Avril: Opportunity. It’s the same thing with the black coaches getting like the opportunity to get a head coaching job is they have a rule in place. So we’re gonna bring you in. 


[34:31] Pele Bennett: Wait until you guys explain that rule. 


[34:41] Cliff Avril: Well, the Rooney Rule is basically if there’s a head coaching job — Art Rooney from the Pittsburgh Steelers made a rule where they came to an agreement that they have to in a part of the coaching search, you have to interview at least one minority coach. But with that rule, it didn’t necessarily bring in more black coaches. It was just a check off the box. OK. We brought him in. We didn’t like what he said. We can’t relate to him.


[35:14] Michael Bennett: That’s the players’ fault, too. I feel like the players also have a role in demanding what they want for their coaches and what they look like. I believe that each player should bring that up because if we do bring it up, it’s going to be turned into an issue. The players forget how much power that they have. 


[35:38] Tia Avril: Do you think that that same notion is not applicable when it comes to forcing people to respect the voice of your wife? 


[35:43] Michael Bennett: No, I believe that. So when I ask what women want, it’s important to know this because then we can go into the meetings and be like, “you know what, we need to make a women’s month within the NFL where we highlight women, give women opportunity.” 


[36:40] Pele Bennett: Every team has a women’s organization. And so they always have different ways that they can get into the community. But sometimes there are flaws in that where they’re not actually reaching the community, they’re reaching their, you know, small areas, they’re not getting out into the outskirts. There’s so many people in the community that haven’t been touched. This is just an idea, but what if that is a way they get involved? Because if you’re having a month, it crosses and touches so many different areas and topics for women. But that’s also another way where a lot of wives and significant others want to participate, but they don’t feel like it’s good enough, or it’s not put together right. And so maybe them using their voices in that way also can help that. Because the wives are just as much of the NFL game in life and you know, the way that we are with you guys during the season. So we are a part of that. And I feel like we do do a lot of give back also. So I think maybe that’s an idea of something that they could get us together to put something out. 


[37:39] Cliff Avril: I don’t disagree with that. I just wrote something down and I was thinking about this while you were talking. I don’t want this to sound crazy. We’re talking about women and getting more opportunities in the NFL, whether that be exec jobs or whatever it may be. But with that being said, if it was all males dominating exec jobs in the NFL, then you say, OK, well, why aren’t there any women in those jobs? It’s just white males in these roles. So with that being said, like it’s an issue for everybody.


[38:20] Michael Bennett: But there’s the Rooney Rule. So there is a fight for black people. 


[38:26] Tia Avril: But there’s not even something in place for women.


[38:28] Michael Bennett: So there needs to be something put in place where women have these opportunities.


[38:37] Cliff Avril: So would they just be happy with it? They just say, OK, we have to interview a woman. They’re not even happy with the fact that they should interview a black man. 


[38:44] Pele Bennett: So then how do we go about fixing that? 


[38:49] Michael Bennett: I told them already. Walk into the NFL Experience, you don’t see very many women. If you do, you see white women. And if you walk into the front office anywhere, you don’t see many women. And that’s just a fact. Walk into the locker room, don’t see a lot of women. There’s not a lot of women in the sport. But still, women make up a lot of buying things from the NFL, buying products. So my proposal is to change that. If we’re going to highlight social justice, and when like we did, we took a knee for social justice. But we forgot about the other things, too, like women. And I think because the NFL has had so many battles with abuse. You know, we’ve had tons of people. Domestic abuse is the number one issue within the NFL. You know, that’s a fact. The simple fact that the NFL has failed to acknowledge that there’s been an issue. We’re building a tolerance for it. It just gets to the point where if a player is like, how good is he? Is he fast, fast, good? If he’s good enough to change the game, was her eye black? How bad was it? Did he choke her? How does that make you feel as women to know things like that? That it’s allowed sometimes. Ray Rice, when he beat his wife up on camera. It was like the NFL had to fire him. But before — 


[40:33] Cliff Avril: They had to make an example out of him. It took a life of its own and the NFL had to react to it. 


[40:52] Michael Bennett: But that was because of women! Women demanded it. It wasn’t men. Men did not demand that. The women in America demanded that he be fired. The women demanded it. 


[41:00] Pele Bennett: And there’s the problem. Why are the women having to speak up and demand that? 


[41:09] Tia Avril: It should not have taken women to raise such a big ruckus. Because the truth is that domestic violence within the NFL here. It’s not a secret. It’s not like, oh, this one player had this issue and it doesn’t happen again. It happens all the time. But I also think it’s on a national level, you have to be consistent. Because then you have some white players that did not receive the same punishment and absolutely should have. So I’m not taking away from the fact that Ray Rice was a black player. His ass should have been fired. But it should be an even playing field. Because somebody like Ben Roethlisberger, there’s no reason why he should have been playing past his situation.


[42:05] Pele Bennett: Because Ray Rice was on camera. So they’re actually covering for themselves, not for women. These have happened before, but nobody has seen it. So it’s like you can hush it up.


[42:30] Cliff Avril: Depending on how good you are, you get away with more. And that goes in business, too, though, like depending on how good you are —


[42:40] Michael Bennett: Trump proved that! 


[42:43] Cliff Avril: That’s true with all of that, with what they allow you to get away with. It’s unfortunate, but we do need more people just speaking their mind on it. And not just women, not just males. Everybody collectively. People know right from wrong. 


[42:58] Tia Avril: People don’t care until it’s in their own backyard. Because things are gravy or whatever until it happens to your daughter. 


[44:44] That is a big thing. Until a man has a daughter — even when you have a sister, you don’t even see all the stuff that your sister goes through. She might not tell you everything that’s happened to her, your mom might not tell you every single struggle. But when you watch your daughters have to go through certain things in life, that’s when you finally get a taste of like, oh, this is what she’s going through.


[45:06] Pele Bennett: Because you’re a real witness at that moment.


[45:10] Cliff Avril: Empathize, man. People do not empathize. 


[45:12] Pele Bennett: But I want to say, it doesn’t only take having daughters to understand. And I think that’s where the empathy part comes in. But then how do you have empathy? Where does it come from?


[45:22] Tia Avril: We don’t have girls. We have two boys. But you see something happen to a female, I’m like, I’ll be damned if I allow my son to be a piece of shit man.


[45:35] Michael Bennett: When you have a daughter — it’s not about empathy, it’s just about really understanding their story. Like I have empathy for women all the time. But when you finally see your daughter having to do it, it just brings it more — 


[45:51] Pele Bennett: I think the fact that you said that you have two sons, and for you to recognize that to say, no, this is wrong, I think that’s a different narrative to start for young males in general. To teach them, you know, how you do treat women, how you act around women. You know, just kind of like how do you respect women? But I think that’s important that a mother understands that and knows that that’s like a responsibility. 


[46:22] Michael Bennett: When you guys are parenting black sons, do you guys ever get fearful of the things that they’re gonna have to experience all the time while being black? Because they could still do everything right, the outcome could still turn out completely wrong 


[46:33] Cliff Avril: All the time. 


[46:34] Tia Avril: You know what? Actually, it brought me to tears when I heard it, but Martellus, your brother, did an episode with your dad. They were talking about raising black boys in America in general. And your dad gave a few examples. But then one of the examples that stuck out was a notion of him telling you all it can never be more than three of you in a car because outside of that, y’all are considered a gang. And when I say I didn’t even think of that, like I think, you know, of course, you see the Trayvon Martin, the Tamir Rice, you think of like those situations, but I was like, damn I really have to put myself on a different parental trajectory because I didn’t even think about that for a brown boy.


[47:21] Cliff Avril: It’s crazy because it’s sad that I have to tell my son he can’t do the same stuff his friends at school do. Like because the results of it, or the consequences of it, isn’t gonna be the same. And I have to like remind him constantly like, “you see such as such do that. Such and such will get in trouble. But it won’t be nowhere near as bad as the penalty that you’ll get. So guess what, you just can’t do what he does.” And it’s unfortunate that he has to look at such as such doing his every day. My parents say if I get in trouble, this is what’s going to happen. And it’s sad, but that’s just the world we live in. My dad used to tell me little stuff like, oh, you know, just like having three people in a car, or watch who you have in a car, because if they stop the car and somebody has something illegal on them, guess what? All you are going to jail. Those aren’t rules that white boys have to think about. Like I’ve seen my white friends spaz out on police officers and I sit there and like, I could never even fathom to think about doing something like that.


[48:28] Cliff Avril: It’s crazy that we have two different lives that we have to live, two different set of rules. But yes, as to little black boys, especially once you have a little bit of money. 


[48:41] Michael Bennett: That’s my next question. Is it more dangerous for your son to live in the hood, or is a more harmful for him to be in white settings? Growing up for his own identity? Is it harder or is it less impactful?


[49:02] Tia Avril: I think they are equally harmful.


[49:06] Cliff Avril: I agree. I think they’re equally harmful as well. But it’s one of those things you’ve got to take the pros and cons and like, what do you value most? Right. Yes, you want your son to be around other black folks. You want them to have that culture. You want them to have, you know, all the different things that you got to experience. At the same time, I know firsthand that the suburbs play by different rules when it comes down to education. And I value that, too. Right. So it’s like, OK. And we’re so conscious of it. We’re like, we don’t want our kids to just see black boys when they go to play basketball. Because subconsciously they’ll grow in fear to some kind of insecurity of some sort. But at the same time, too, I’m like, I do want that same type of education because I see the difference. I see — what my kids are learning now, I didn’t learn that until sixth grade. I also think the education piece is important as well. So trying to find that balance. Unfortunately, a successful black man in America — it’s so confusing. Because you’re damned if you do when you go to the suburbs, you’re damned if you do if you just stay in the hood. And so what do you do? Like do you go live out in the sticks? 


[50:30] Tia Avril: I think they’re equally as harmful. Because if they’re in the middle of the hood or whatever, you are more concerned with the peer pressure that they may succumb to and making bad decisions. Because a lot of people in hood operate in a mode of survival. And when you operate in a mode of survival, you don’t necessarily think clearly. Like, of course there is a reason, but you don’t necessarily think clearly. However, being in the suburbs, you’re putting your kids in private school, there’s a huge issue with identity that I battle with every day because my kid is the only black boy in a third grade. And there’s probably like six black boys in the entire school. And as one other black girl. He did a heritage project last week, a week before. And we’re going through stuff and we went through the Haitian side, then we get to the African-American side and, you know, he’s learning about more about my side and stuff, whatever. Then we get to food. And so he’s like, so what type of cuisine like African-Americans usually eat? And I was like, oh, soul food. And he was like, well, what’s soul food? And so I pulled up a little quick Google image. And I’m like, here’s this plate. Tell me what you think. And he was like, spinach, carrots, cornbread. I’m like these are like these are collard greens, like you’ve eaten them. He’s like, oh, at Coach Hurt’s house. But it really hurt my heart because I’m like us being in Seattle and him not being around my family, he’s missing out on a lot of things, culture that he would that he would experience if he was around more black people. That baby thought greens was spinach and sweet potatoes with carrots. 


[52:42] Cliff Avril: And just trying to find that balance is so hard, man. Either you pick the great education and you lose the identity piece. Or now you’re around more black folks, but they’re not putting money into the education system.


[53:00] Tia Avril: I feel like I want to give them a strong educational foundation and then I’m OK putting them back in a more diverse setting, because now I know where to fill in the gaps. 


[53:15] Pele Bennett: I think it’s up to the parent also to really be responsible for that, because I feel like for me, you know, our kids are mixed. And so I know so much. Right. But I feel like it’s my duty to know more for them. And I want them to identify with both sides of their family. And I want them to know both sides. So that does take a little more effort on my part and sometimes you slack because it’s just tough. 


[53:49] Michael Bennett: You two guys represent a lot of things, things that are happening in black culture. So I feel like because you guys do a lot of history stuff, you could get the culture from it. There’s opportunities where he could learn about Langston Hughes and do all these things because you’re pushing for that. I mean, it might be a culture shock if you go to HBCU and be like, what the hell they taught me?


[54:13] Cliff Avril: See, that’s what I’m saying. There’s things that honestly you just learn through life. But the only way you experience it is by being around other people that are experiencing some of the same things and then you just pick things from that. So that’s the piece that I’m worried about, like. I agree. My wife, who’s the smart one of us two, she can teach them a lot, but life teaches you more things. And if they’re not in those environments, is hard to replicate. 


[55:23] Michael Bennett: The pro tip of the week is how do you allow both coaches in your household to be known, like how do you allow it? How do you have an honest conversation about the yams at the same time as the rice and peas as the same time as dancing in the same time as, you know, Black History Month. So what’s the pro tip on somebody who has a diverse family on allowing both families to the culture of each side? 


[55:47] Tia Avril: So I think the low-hanging fruit, of course, is OK, you want to teach them verbally like this is what this is, etc. But I don’t think you should discount experiences. So while we are like trying to protect our kids and keep them out of the hood or keep them out of, you know, whatever situation that sometimes has a negative connotation, we can’t disregard the experiences that we learned and have built upon.


[56:11] Cliff Avril: Yes, I agree. I think the experiences play a big role. Again, you can teach them at home and you try to, you know, give them the educational background, all these different things, but kids, we all learn from our experiences more so than anything. You can shout a thousand times, “that thing is hot.” Until they actually touch that thing and see how much it hurt — some kids just got to mess up their hands. 


[56:39] Tia Avril: So I’m going to say experience and action, because not only does the child learn from the verbal things that you tell them, but they also learn from watching you and your habits and your behaviors.


[56:51] Pele Bennett: Yeah, I would say conversation. I think a pro tip is to keep popping bubbles because I feel like in the world that we live, you know, we live in different communities that we didn’t grow up from. So I think our reality is different from our children’s reality. But we also have to remind them constantly, like I feel like I always do that especially with the oldest one, Peyton, is that everyone doesn’t live like you. Everyone does not live like you. I didn’t grow up like you like literally did not. Your family doesn’t live like you. People down the block in different communities don’t live like you. So in reality, your reality is very tiny. And so for me, having these conversations with you go much broader than your bubble. So for me is to pop those bubbles and to remind you like you are privileged and you have a lot, you know, to learn also. But experience will come from different directions in different ways. But I also want to remind her that don’t feel less of that, you know, because you do have these different, you know, opportunities. You know, take advantage and then you can grow from there. And that’s how you give back to people, you know, that need it or that want it. But I think that she needs to all of them, you know, need to learn it. So I’m going to say pro tip is popping those bubbles.


[57:57] Michael Bennett: My pro tip is embracing. I think it takes the other person from the other side to make sure that their kid is embracing their partner’s culture. You got to embrace that culture and make sure that you are the one who is pushing the other person’s culture. 


[58:27] Cliff Avril: I agree. I think everything everybody said is right on. It’s a learning process for all of us. That’s what it boils down to, too. Like we’re all trying to figure this thing out. I tell that to the kids all the time. This is a new space for all of us. Like we didn’t grow up with this. So we’re trying to figure out how to raise you guys to make sure you respect what we did, but also appreciate what we have going on right now, too.


[58:50] Michael Bennett: Where can people follow you guys?


[58:54] Cliff Avril: Shout your podcast out, baby. Go ahead. 


[58:55] Tia Avril: So you guys can follow me on Instagram @Tia827. And I also have a podcast to give women’s voices, to make sure they’re heard. Inside Lines podcast.


[59:11] Cliff Avril: And again, that was Inside Lines podcast for the wifey. And then mine is @cliffavril. I just post random stuff. But yeah, please follow it. It’s a good follow. Most times probably about my wife and kids. 


[59:32] Michael Bennett: Well, thank you guys for being a Mouthpeace today.


[59:37] Pele Bennett: Thank you for blessing us with your presence and wisdom and positivity and also advice on parenting.


[59:45] Michael Bennett: Definitely. I felt we had a good conversation. We talked about the lack of women and lack of black coaches, raising a black child in America. This is a great episode.


[59:54] Cliff Avril: But you know what was crazy? Although it is on a podcast, this is some we would probably talk about anyway. That’s what makes it real. 


[01:02] Michael Bennett: We want to make sure that we are vulnerable in these conversations, because without that, there’s no chance for us to grow. I mean, shit, I need to better. I’m not intentional. 


[01:18] Cliff Avril: Yeah. Yeah. You got to be intentional. I learned that too on the sly. But no thank you guys for having us, man. We appreciate it. Much success to you guys as well. 


[01:28] Michael Bennett: Please subscribe to us or like us on anything that you’re listening to. Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, whatever you’re listening to get away from your family, whoever you don’t want to be around. And make sure you rate us or give us a comment. Even though we don’t give a fuck about your comments, give us a comment. Mouthpeace is a production of Lemonada Media, which you can find online on all social platforms @LemonadaMedia. You can follow me on social media, @MosesBread72. I love bread, and biblically, I always thought I was Moses.


[01:01:25] Pele Bennett: And you can follow me on Instagram at @pelepels. Mouthpeace with Michael and Pele Bennett is executive produced by us, the Bennetts. Our Lemonada Media executive producer is Eli Kramer, and our producer is Genevieve Garrity. Our assistant producer is Claire Jones and our audio is edited by Brian Castillo. Thank you to our ad sales and distribution partners at Westwood One, and to all of our sponsors for making this show possible. 


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