Remember all the talk about how this NFL season had gotten off to a boring start? Me neither. Because yesterday was unreal. Hell, it started with the Rams-Niners shootout on Thursday and continued right into the Jags de-pantsing the Ravens in London. Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers going legend once again. The Bears shocking the Steelers. The Giants shocking everyone by scoring multiple touchdowns. Matthew Stafford doing what Matthew Stafford does and getting Detroit the lead with 8 seconds to go, then it gets ripped away on review and the game ends on a ten second run off. Loaded with content this morning…
And that’s what I’d be talking about if it wasn’t for this…
I know you’re not tuning into this show for politics. This is a sports show. I feel like I have to say that more than ever now. I would like nothing more than to talk about sports. But “stick to sports” or “sports is where I go to escape politics” is gone when the President is taking calling an NFL player exercising his rights a “son of a bitch.”, and says that he should be fired for it.
Because if the President is going to talk sports and talk about it in those ways, then I’m going to have to talk politics. I don’t want to. I’d like nothing better than to not talk politics today. I’d love to be talking about what Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers did yesterday or Eagles rookie kicker Jake Elliott with an absolute missile from 61 yards out to beat the Giants. Or, I don’t know, maybe get into the fact that Carmelo Anthony was traded over the weekend. I’d like to talk about all of that, but I can’t.
Because it would be absolutely idiotic to come in here, crack open the mic and talk about the Raiders melting down in Washington or the Thunder’s offense this season with everything else that’s going on. Not when every team took part in some sort of demonstration yesterday.
And there are probably some of you who aren’t going to want to hear what I’m going to say. That’s fine.
So, where do you want to start with the president’s comments? First of all, what the hell is the President doing talking about the NFL in the first place? Seriously. On the list of important things for presidents to be concerned about, whether a football player stands or kneels for the anthem doesn’t even crack the top 100.
How about you worry about North Korea? Or Puerto Rico, where millions of American citizens are without electricity and likely will be without it for months? Or Texas? Or Florida?
As Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith pointed out, “This is the same guy who couldn’t condemn violent neo-Nazis but he’s condemning guys that are taking a knee during the national anthem.”
But he wasn’t done with just the remarks in Alabama. On Saturday he tweeted: “If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”
And then there’s the idea that language like that totally and thoroughly unbecoming of the office. Any office. That if a high school principal said something like that, he or she would be fired. But there may be some of you who like it. There may be some of you who hear that and say, finally, someone who’s telling it like it is.
Because it’s wrong on so many levels. This has always been about injustice, inequality, and police brutality. Trying to conflate it with disrespecting the troops is either willfully ignorant, idiotic, or trying to use it for political gain. Or all three.
If you’re offended by an athlete taking a knee for the national anthem, that’s fine. You have that right. And I understand why you would be offended. The point of non-violent protests is not to make people feel comfortable, but to make people feel uncomfortable, to get people’s attention and say, something is wrong here.
I understand why someone kneeling during the national anthem or remaining in the locker room during the national anthem would offend, but are you also offended by the deaths of countless young African-American males at the hands of police officers? I hope so. If not, you’re offended by the wrong things. But don’t take my word for it.
Listen to Julius Peppers.
Or Michael Thomas.
Listen to them. You tell them that there isn’t a problem. Listen to them and tell me that they’re doing this for show. Or that they’re ungrateful millionaires, or whatever other term you want to attach to them, most of them far worse than ungrateful and millionaire.
And then listen to me. Because there’s a group of you I’m trying to reach right now. The group that doesn’t really want to hear this. The group that thinks that I’m saying this to be PC. Or that I’m “virtue signaling” or whatever other terms you want to use to disregard something that’s tough for you to hear.
There is a problem. It is being pointed out by these men you root for and cheer for. They are telling you about their experiences, what it has been like to grow up as African-American men in this country and the fears that they have for themselves and their children.
And some of you are telling them to shut up. Or that it’s not a problem. Or that the problem is all their own fault. Pointing out that there’s a problem isn’t divisive. Claiming there isn’t a problem is.