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Bobby Bowden says boys without dads wear earrings 'to be like their momma'

The Guardian logo The Guardian 5/01/2017 Guardian sport
Bobby Bowden gives a thumbs up during a celebration of Florida State’s 1993 national title team. © ASSOCIATED PRESS Bobby Bowden gives a thumbs up during a celebration of Florida State’s 1993 national title team.

Former Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden’s trademark candor backfired on Wednesday when he theorized that young players who grew up without fathers wear earrings to be like their mothers.

“My last years at Florida State, 65 or 70% of my boys did not have a daddy at home,” said Bowden in an interview on ESPN’s popular Mike & Mike sports talk radio show. “They were raised by mommas, sweet ol’ mommas. Thank god for them mommas. Or grandmomma. Many times it was grandmomma, or big sister, or aunt. But where’s the man? A boy needs a male figure. And the girls do too. Somebody to discipline them and make them be a man. I used to kid about this, you know, they grow and wanna be like their momma.

“A boy needs a male figure. And the girls do too. Somebody to discipline them and make them be a man. I used to kid about this you know, they grow up and they want to be like their momma. That’s the way they were raised. That’s why they wear earrings.”

Co-host Mike Golic’s awkward chuckle prompted Bowden to immedately back off the statement: “I’m kidding about that.”

The 87-year-old retiree appeared on a series of ESPN’s programs on Wednesday to promote The Bowden Dynasty, a documentary about his legendary tenure in Tallahassee that’s set to premiere on Sunday night.

Bowden coached the Seminoles from 1976 through 2009, transforming a team that had gone 4-29 over the previous three seasons into a national powerhouse. His teams finished below .500 just once in 34 seasons and he captured national championships in 1993 and 1999.

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