The Hypocrisy Of The NFL
Super Bowl 55 was a Cinderella story that saw Tom Brady leave the New England Patriots, join the Tampa Bay Bucs and shock the world in winning his 7th Super Bowl championship. It was a great story for the Bucs and the NFL in general. Unfortunately, I couldn’t help but notice all of the self-promotion the NFL was doing throughout the course of the game. They constantly paraded the game with these ads about how much they doing in the arena of social justice. The back of the players’ helmets were all inscribed with messages like “end racism.” It was almost embarrassing to see how ostentatious the messaging was. I couldn’t help myself but ask, where was this energy in 2016 when Kaepernick kneeled for the cause of social awareness as it relates to police brutality?
The problem I have with the NFL and the way they’ve responded to social justice issues is two-fold. The first issue is timing. It’s awfully convenient to stand up for social justice in 2021 when the tide of society has shifted to where it’s “fashionable” to do so. In 2016 they steered clear of Colin Kaepernick and what he was fighting for, and they made that loud and clear. Fast-forward some 4 odd years, many major sports leagues have become champions of social justice issues, the NBA being the leader and front-runner of said movement. The NFL knew they had a serious public relations issue on their hands so they solicited the help of most popular, influential black person they could think of, Jay-Z. It was a genius move from a marketing standpoint but those of us who looked deeper into the matter knew it was a PR stunt with an agenda to do damage control and win back the support of the court of public opinion. The NFL was and still is very reactive to these social issues. True authentic movements require proactivity and being okay with losing favor with your constituents, if it’s for the greater good. The NFL was mainly concerned about one thing then and still is now, revenue. In their defense, it is a business, so to some extent I can understand why they handled things the way they did. However, that still does not justify their actions.
The second issue I have with the NFL in regards to their approach on social justice is just the clumsily veiled showiness they’ve used to market their social activism efforts. As I alluded to earlier, you couldn’t go one commercial break during the Super Bowl without an NFL ad showing footage of “all the great things” they’ve done in the name of social justice. If I ever get the opportunity to assist a homeless person, I do my best to not bring a film crew with me to record the act and then post it on social media for the world to see how amazing of a person I am. I am being facetious, off course that would be silly of me to do. Nonetheless, the NFL loves to broadcast just how “involved” they are in social activism. The hypocrisy is rich. The silver lining here is that the NFL has ample opportunity to redeem itself and become a staple of consistency and the sports leader in advocating for social change in America. Being that it’s February and African history month, let’s just hope it happens sooner rather than later.