Tag Archives: racism

The NFL is Out of Control and Football is Failing

New Orleans       There is no danger whatsoever that anyone will start calling American football the “beautiful game,” which is sometimes the expression used internationally for what the world sees as football, which we call soccer.  Football is earning the moniker of the “deadly” game for its institutionalized violence, mayhem, maiming, racism, and more.

I was bumped up to first-class flying home recently.  My seatmate on this leg was an orthopedic surgeon who over the last fifteen years had built the sports medicine center at a big local hospital chain that served all of the southern Louisiana sports world except for one university.  Would he let his son play football?  Heck, no!  He was going west next year on a soccer scholarship.  Did all of these helmet changes by the NFL make the game any safer for the players?  Heck, no, he answered!  What did he think about paying players?  The good doctor thought that universities and the pros should guarantee lifetime healthcare coverage to any athlete playing football at any level.  Why?  Because, all of them are going to need it.  He tells others his views on the sidelines.  I didn’t ask his name, and he didn’t ask mine, but we both knew we had played high school football, loved the game, and in my case, I had torn ligaments and cartilage in my left knee and a Vietnam war exemption to prove it.   Youth participation in football has now gone down an average of 10%, and sometimes more, even in Southern states where the sport has long been king.

If this wasn’t enough, the National Football League, despite being an economic powerhouse worth billions, continues to shoot itself in the foot and everywhere else.  A player for the Cleveland Browns has been indefinitely suspended for ripping a Steeler quarterback’s helmet off and hitting him in the head with it.  Assault with a deadly weapon and an arrest will not be forthcoming, because there is a legal assumption that when players take the field that they have agreed to an implicit sanctioning of violence.  Cam Newton, a former MVP in the league who led his team to the Super Bowl not so long ago and quarterbacked his college team to the national championship, has been out hurt for most of two years and could be gone.  Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts quit after eight years because he didn’t think he should continue dealing with injuries.  The list is endless, and no one seems to learn anything.

When the NFL takes its head out of the sand, it specializes in farce.  The Commissioner after two years of piddling and more recently being prodded by Jay-Z, who shamed himself by throwing Colin Kaepernick under the bus so that his company could make a marketing deal with the NFL, gave him four days’ notice for a special workout in Atlanta where all teams were invited.  The NFL’s hand seems to have been forced when two teams asked them whether or not it was OK to give him a workout, implicitly confirming the common knowledge that he has been blackballed for his on-field protests against racism and police violence.  The farce includes the fact that many teams wouldn’t be able to get their general managers or head coaches to Atlanta on such quick notice for the Saturday before their own game days.  Count on the hater-baiter Dallas owner, Jerry Jones, to pop off about not sending anyone, and then, obviously under pressure by the league, have to get somebody there with a Cowboys’ t-shirt to up the number of participating squads.  No one should be holding their breath waiting for a contract offer for Kaepernick, nor is there any indication that he would stop his protest.

Typical of everything about football’s leadership at the professional level or the semi-pro NCAA level, no problem is ever confronted and solved whether about health, violence, or certainly race.  The standard football playbook for dealing with all of this is just to push the problems further on down the field.  The final signal call will be when they also kill the sport.


Nikole Hannah-Jones Fan Club:  Join Now!

New Orleans        I don’t have time to start the Nikole Hannah-Jones Fan Club, but I’m absolutely ready to join – and pay dues.  Somebody start this, and send me a membership card, because this is one truth-telling, tell-it-like-is reporter if there ever was one, and, miracles never cease, she does so in The New York Times of all places, if you can believe that.

So, I first found myself saying “right on!” when I read her piece about the importance of busing after the Kamala Harris / Joe Biden dustup on this issue at the debate.  Her arguments there devastated anyone who might have even whispered that busing was anything but a public good and essential to racial justice.  When Biden – and Harris’ – people read that piece several months ago, they should have just waved the white flag of surrender and stepped away from the car on that issue!

What really has pulled me across the line forever though is her lead piece for the 1619 Project noting 400 years of enslavement on North American soil.  Wow!  Let me just share some examples of her arguments to give you a sense.

  • She refers to “forced labor camps” which some people call plantations.
  • She calls out ten or so of our first dozen presidents as “slavers.”
  • She nails Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration writers for their efforts to scratch out any mention of slavery in the Declaration and Constitution, but counts the times that they danced around it.
  • She cites continuing the practice of slavery as a major trigger for the demand for independence from Britain for fear that abolitionists there would force an end to the practice in the colonies.
  • She unabashedly argues that African-Americans have saved democracy in the United States from the white elites and that the best and truest Americans are in fact African-Americans.

And, let me remark again, that she does this in the Times!

In general, this is a special Times magazine section that everyone should read.

You know it by its enemies.  Former House Speaker and current Fox commentator Newt Gingrich is whining that the 1619 Project distorts history.  Of course, he is!  He represented a district in the Atlanta suburbs that one article particularly zings for creating the traffic congestion that is the legacy of slavery and persistent racism in Atlanta, and where one county continues to reject the expansion of MARTA to provide mass transit there.

Living in Louisiana, the section on sugar cane, including the fact that the French Jesuit priests planted the first cane stalks in 1751 near Baronne Street in New Orleans where one of ACORN’s old offices was located in 1978 for several years at 628, was especially painful to read.  No one living in the South escapes this reality today and the impact of its legacy.

I also have to admit that as I read Hannah-Jones’ piece when she wrote about her father’s roots having been in Greenwood, Mississippi before they ended up in Waterloo, Iowa, and that there were more lynchings in that county than any other in Mississippi where there were more than in any other state, I had to quickly doublecheck that Greenwood was in Leflore County, rather than my mother’s family next door in Sunflower County, next door, even though terribly bad in every other way imaginable.

She’s going to win a Pulitzer this year for these pieces.  The New York Times is going to win one for the 1619 Project.  I’d take a bet on both of those, as a member of her fan club, but I would also cover a bet that she at least could care less – it’s change that every word in her essay is demanding.


Please enjoy Do You Remember from Chance The Rapper ft. Death Cab For Cutie.

Thanks to KABF.