With high-ranking NFL officials thinking this way about players standing up for justice, it’s no wonder Kaepernick and Reid are viewed as untouchable pariahs throughout the league.
After weeks of turbulent national protests following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the league was ashamed to finally change its tune on issues of race. Goodell came forward after being called by players to say what he had previously avoided: “Black Lives Matter.” He apologized for not doing so earlier and vowed that the NFL would change.
In the wake of the 2020 protests and civil unrest, the league has continued to make a great deal of its perceived commitment to support women, LGBTQ people, and African Americans in particular. This year, the NFL continued the practice of depicting feel-good phrases such as “end racism” in end zones and allowing players to wear sanctioned slogans such as “Black Lives Matter” on the back of helmets.
The hypocrisy is obvious and shows itself most clearly on matters of race.
Black players make up about 70 percent of NFL rosters, which include most of the biggest stars in the league. Yet the teams only have five black general managers. No Black owns the team with the majority of the shares.
And despite eight head coach vacancies in the last recruitment period, only three of the 32 head coaches are black.
Art Shell, the first black head coach in the league’s modern era, was hired exclusively by the Raiders in 1989. In 32 years, little has really changed.
Powerful men, especially powerful white men, have by far the most sway in professional football. How they act, who they anoint and hire, what they say, and in this case casual jokes and outrageous put-downs underscore the lies of the league’s public-facing displays. These are the men who make the day-to-day decisions in football. And those emails are where the real culture of the NFL was showcased.
This is the reality, regardless of how Goodell and the league’s owners spin it.