With Black men making up 70 percent of NFL players, the professional sports league is one of America’s biggest financial beneficiaries of Black bodies, rivaling only the prison industry.
Despite the mass amount of money that Black men make the NFL, the owners’ “blackballing” of Colin Kaepernick shines an ugly light on racism and how even in 2017, Black people are expected to just “shut up and dance.”
Here’s how the owners are set up to remain quiet and keep players silent about issues affecting people that look like them, and how we as a community can play defense.
The Millions Make for Hush Money
Compared to the average American salary of $50,000 per year, the average NFL player makes more in one year ($1.9 million) than the average American earns in a lifetime, but that amount of money would have a very strong effect on a Black player who may have come from a life of poverty and struggle.
Historically, Black people as a whole have been economically disenfranchised, forced into ghettos with food deserts where there’s nothing but liquor stores and fast food, placed in public schools with no budgets, crumbling books and overwhelmed teaches, and living in military zone-like, over-policed neighborhoods.
If you grew up in this environment and discovered a way out, a way to financial security, designer clothes, luxury cars, lobster and steak, mansions, fame and fortune, you’d do anything to get there and even more to keep it.
The money gained from NFL contracts puts these player in a depressing version of the game “Would You Rather?”
He must decide if he would rather speak out against the injustices happening every day to people who look like him, like his sons, and like his family and potentially lose his endorsement deals and dream job of playing football; or would he rather keep his job, make his money and remain silent to this country’s travesties despite him having a platform that other Black people do not have to speak out against it.
This type of football culture is what makes a jersey the closest thing to a bullet proof vest for a Black man.
It’s the Only Protection a Black Man Can Have
America loves its football, and from high school to college to professional, owners and coaches will go to bat to protect their players, especially the most talented.
This type of football culture is what makes a jersey the closest thing to a bullet proof vest for a Black man. Being a star of Friday Night Lights might save him from the red and blue lights.
White fans go wild when Black athletes enter the stadium. The fans smile and cheer, beg for their autographs and a picture, and put them in their fantasy leagues.
But, take the Black player’s jersey off, take away their multi-million dollar contract, take away their athletic ability, then these athletes would just be big, Black “scary” men and those same fans would hate them and view them as a danger to society, as a “super predator.”
So, it’s no wonder that a Black athlete, who for the first time in his life may feel like Superman, would do anything to keep that feeling, including being quiet.
If Black Players Do More Than Play Ball, They’ll Be Blackballed
The NFL owners are making an example out of Kaepernick by not signing him.
They may say their decision to not pick him up is primarily because he “disrespected the flag;” as if they are taking some high-moral road, despite their willingness to keep and sign players that have been arrested and even convicted of a crime.
However, he took a knee in protest of police brutality, and if this is really about morality, then we see that the owners stand on the side of their racist, White fans, who would rather not have to face the realities of racism in this country.
Colin Caught the Ball, Now We Need to Run Defense
The Black community owes Colin for having the bravery to do something most of these athletes will not do. For this, we need to have his back.
It’s no secret that since the times of the Civil Rights Movement, Black people have not come together to collectively strike a blow at a corporation or organization using the boycott tactic, but we have an opportunity here.
Kaepernick’s sacrifice during an NFL game has made “the kneel” gain national coverage. If we come together and support him, America will take notice.
Stand For Kaepernick is a movement to boycott the NFL until Colin Kaepernick is signed. It calls for:
- Protests at the first regular season game played at every NFL stadium this season.
- A total boycott of anything related to week one of the NFL.
Protests are happening near the Austin area in Houston and Dallas on September 10. Also, sign up for the #NoKaepernickNoNFL petition to help the list get up to its 1 million goal.
Hopefully, the strength of Black folks coming together will encourage the Black players to unite because then something really will get done.
So Black people, my family, are you in?