As I’m sure you are well aware I am a HUGE Miami Dolphins fan and a big NFL fan overall. This year I’m in 2 fantasy football leagues and am the commissioner for one of them. Two years ago I spent my entire bonus check- the largest one I’ve ever gotten in my entire life – to attend the Vikings/ Dolphins game at US Bank stadium (7th row on the 15 yard line). I. Love. Football.
Note- I’m specifically addressing football today, but most of this also applies to Major League Baseball or the NBA or any other sport of your preference.
Now, I’m not an idiot. Of course the NFL, just like any other company of 3800 employees, has a few bad seeds. There have been very public instances of players who have abused women or committed other crimes. And no, the league hasn’t always been consistent in its handling of these issues. But, I do believe that they want to do better, and that they are truly trying to do so.
On the other hand, most of the folks employed by the NFL are good people. Many who make a lot of money- and even an awful lot who don’t- are exceptionally generous with both their time and their dollars to charitable and community organizations, often doing so out of the spotlight by design. There is a reason the Walter Payton Man of the Year award – the award for doing good in these ways – is such a big deal every year. The NFL wants its players to be involved as agents for change in their communities and rewards them for doing so.
Which is one of the (many) reasons why the outcry the past few years over players exercising their Constitutionally protected right to free speech and peaceful protest is so ridiculous. This past Thursday the Chiefs and Texans kicked off the 2020 season with a “moment of unity”. There were no flags. There was no kneeling. Just a group of men standing perfectly still in the middle of a football field. They weren’t blocking anyone’s way. They weren’t yelling anything that could be deemed offensive. In fact, they were totally silent. It wasn’t even a protest in the way most of us recognize that word.
And yet the next day some people complained about it anyway. They complained that the players shouldn’t speak up at all and why didn’t the NFL mention 911 and blah blah blah. I’m pretty sure these same folks would have complained no matter what, but it still pissed me off.
70% of NFL players are black. Around 5% to 10% others (numbers vary) are mixed race or some other non-white ethnicity. There is a much lower percentage of non whites in the non player ranks of the NFL, but still this organization has a very high number of black employees. Asking this group of people to not say anything about racial injustice is ridiculous. It’s not a theoretical problem for them. This is an issue they deal with every day.
So, if you want to be mad at someone, be mad at judicial system that jails blacks at a rate hundreds of times higher than whites. Be mad at the people in my small town who pull their purses a little closer when a black pastor goes to the grocery store in 2020. Be mad at the people who think it’s OK to victim shame unarmed black men killed by police. Be mad that COVID is running rampant through our nation when almost every other modern nation on the planet got it under control months ago.
Don’t tell me they should just shut up and play. They absolutely SHOULD use their money and prestige for good. Ending racism should be everyone’s goal. Wanting to stifle that really makes you look, well, like a racist and a jerk.
Don’t be a racist. Don’t be a jerk. Take a good, long look at yourself in the mirror and leave my football alone.