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Brandon Mebane shares experience of alleged housing discrimination ‘to get a conversation started’

Brandon Mebane signed a three-year, $13.5 million deal with the Chargers in 2016. (AP)
LISTEN: Chargers DT Brandon Mebane on alleged rental discrimination in LA

Former Seahawks defensive tackle Brandon Mebane signed with the Chargers last year after nine seasons in Seattle. The team’s relocation from San Diego to Los Angeles this offseason meant a homecoming for Mebane. But the move brought about an unpleasant experience.

Mebane, who is black, wrote on his blog earlier this month that he believes his family faced housing discrimination while trying to rent a property in suburban LA.

From his blog post: “Some owners in the suburbs we were visiting did not want us living in their house. Though we exceeded the standard tenant requirements, put together a competitive application with a Tier 1 credit score, references, a cover letter, and advanced payment, we were denied. This was not the first time we experienced this. We were also met with the same unwelcoming response trying to find a home in the suburbs of San Diego.”

Mebane talked more about that recent experience when he joined Gee Scott on 710 ESPN Seattle on Thursday. He felt it was important to do so because “a lot of people don’t really seem to think that things like this really exist.”

Mebane, 32, said his real-estate agent told him his chances of being selected for the LA house were good, especially with his offer to pay six months’ rent up front. But their application was denied. Word from the agent was that other applicants were selected because of a slightly higher credit score – four points on the 300-850 scale. Mebane didn’t believe that a negligible difference like that could really be the determining factor.

“What people have to understand is this: They’re not going to come out and say, ‘OK, you’re black. We’re not going to choose you to be the tenants of this house.’ People are not going to come out and actually say that,” Mebane told Scott. “People use other ways and different tactics and different things to come out and say, ‘We don’t want you in our neighborhood,’ pretty much.”

Mebane wrote on his blog that other black teammates had similar experiences while trying to rent, including one who offered to pay a year’s rent up front. He wrote: “One landlord even changed the requirements on another teammate after his family submitted their application so that they would no longer be eligible.”

Mebane said it’s an unfortunate reminder that “you can have all the money, you can have all the cars, materials, jewelry, all that stuff, but at the end of the day, no matter what, you’re still black. That’s what we we’re basically trying to bring awareness to. It’s not to stir the pot … It’s basically to get a conversation started on me telling my experience when I got the helmet off that these are the types of things that we experience.”

Mebane shared another experience of what he considered racial discrimination, describing how he and his wife were followed closely by a security guard all around a Louis Vuitton store (he didn’t specify where).

“We’d turn the corner, they’d be at the corner, they’d be right behind us. We’d turn this corner, they’d be right behind us,” he said. “So finally, my wife was like, ‘Uh, are you following us?’ The security guy was like, ‘Yeah, I’m following you.'”

Said Mebane: “Just a day in the life of what African Americans go through. It’s a lot of racial things that we go through that a lot of us don’t talk about, and I feel like we need to be talking it to make people aware that these things are still existing. Slavery may not be existent now in 2017, but things from slavery have carried over into the lives of us, and these types of things, if we don’t talk about it, it’s just going to continue onto our children’s children. (We need) to make people aware that things like this is not OK.”