On Monday, February 10, the Daily Princetonian published an article about senior football captain Caraun Reid’s accomplishments and his opportunity to play in the NFL. The article relayed that Caraun is a special talent, but the photograph accompanying the article was not of Caraun from this fall’s victory over Yale, but of me jumping in the air.
Not surprisingly, the congratulations I received for my impending fame and gridiron glory ran the gamut from sympathetic and understanding to completely clueless.
The previous day, Samuel L. Jackson lit into entertainment reporter Sam Rubin for mistaking him for actor Laurence Fishburne during an interview about the movie Robocop. Samuel L. Jackson exclaimed, “We may all be black and famous but we all don’t look alike,” and when he was a mere tick away from a Jules-level turnup he added, “You’re the entertainment reporter and you don’t know the difference between me and Laurence Fishburne?” Translation: you’re that clueless or careless that for my interview you had the audacity to mistake me for another black actor?
Caraun Reid and I are both black males on the football team who both wear jersey number 11, but that’s where the similarities end. I was a Quarterback, and have been for my entire football playing career. Caraun was a Defensive Tackle. Google Caraun Reid, and scroll the images. Search Facebook, and if privacy settings permit, scroll those profile pictures. I’d dare say a cursory glance at any and all of these sources would yield a conclusion that I am too small to be reasonably compared to Caraun. My average playing weight was around 215 pounds during my career. Caraun’s average playing weight was around 305 lbs. His arm is the size of my leg and my torso is the size of one of his legs
Furthermore, Caraun is known for his powerful pipes as a member of Old Nassoul just as much as he is known to be a devout Christian. Caraun is dynamic, and when he isn’t uplifting, he’s raising Hell on the football field. I’d say it is fairly reasonable to assume a good amount of people know of Caraun from various activities on campus.
The incorrect photograph led to numerous jokes from friends directed my way. They were usually to the effect of, “Congratulations on the NFL Combine, Caraun!” It’s amazing how changing the inflection on any word of this sentence can portray so many different emotions about how the person felt about the article. I recognized ignorance, empathy, disgust, and an entire range of other emotions from people as they made light of the situation. Helluva start to the week.
As I internalized congratulations from different folks I realized I was laughing more than I was becoming outraged. I laughed, because what else was I really supposed to do? I mean, I am being lumped in with another young black man that is accomplishing terrific things. Laurence Fishburne, Samuel L. Jackson; tomato, tomato? I’d even joke to friends that hopefully I’m going to get drafted by my hometown Jacksonville’s Jaguars.
Samuel L. Jackson is one of the top ten highest grossing actors of all-time. Caraun Reid is the first Princeton football player to attend the Senior Bowl since Holland Donan in 1951. I’m a retired football player easing into a regimen devoid of structured workouts, football meetings, and practice. It would be nice to be Caraun, but I’m not. It would be so much sexier to inform my parents that TFA is on hold because I can’t leave NFL money on the table. Alas, I am relegated indefinitely to amateur status and must descend into Dillon Gym to get a post-athlete pump in.
Can you imagine the frustration with accomplishing the pinnacle of your profession, or having the opportunity to achieve your dream, and having your interview or article misidentify you based on carelessness and insincerity? When incidents like these occur—like actor Samuel L. Jackson being lumped with actor Laurence Fishburne, or black student-athletes like me being confused with Caraun—it reduces us to our race and ignores black male individuals’ accomplishments.
“Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this article included a photograph of a player that was not Caraun Reid ’14. The ‘Prince’ regrets the error.” The online version of the article published the incorrect photograph just as the print edition did. Around midday Monday, February 10, the Prince removed the picture of me from the online publication. Afterwards, no picture of Caraun was uploaded to rectify the mistake. The Prince did not even contact Caraun or me at any point to apologize for the mistake.
This is a profile piece on Caraun Reid and you don’t know what Caraun looks like?
In the editorial about Caraun Reid, my friend did not get his just due. It’s important to understand the accomplishments, goals, and values each individual offers our campus community. Sam Rubin knew he was interviewing acclaimed actor Samuel L. Jackson live and mistook him for Laurence Fishburne. Similarly, the Prince’s editorial on All American Caraun Reid mistook him for me, albeit in newspaper form with time to edit the error online.
Caraun represents the best that Princeton has to offer, but Caraun wasn’t afforded a representation befitting his outstanding individual accomplishments. Editorial competence and plain old attention to subject matter should have yielded the correct image of Caraun. I don’t mind being the Morpheus to Caraun’s Mace Windu, I just want the Prince to check out the movies first to know they’re different trilogies. No image search required.
Correction: an earlier version of this article mistakenly identified the day on which the incorrect picture was taken down as Monday, March 10. It was Monday, February 10. The incorrect picture was taken down at 12:20 PM.