This year’s NFL opening weekend is historic because for the first time in league history, there are 10 Black starting quarterbacks on the field.
This is undoubtedly progress, especially when considering the long history of racial discrimination inherent in the position, but even with more Black faces on the field and messages of anti-racism off it, the NFL is still failing its Black community.
An emblematic display of this continuing failure came in the season opener where the Kansas City Chiefs faced the Houston Texans. The game was exciting enough: two star-studded offenses had thrilling games, and the Chiefs came away with a 34-20 win, but it was what happened before the game that mattered the most.
Texans and Chiefs players locked arms in a show of unity against racial injustice, and a primarily white crowd booed the majority Black players. The unmistakably racist picture is something that would’ve been expected in the 1960s, not 2020. How did the NFL respond?
To date, the NFL has made no official comment on the situation, which speaks volumes about its lack of interest in challenging racism. By choosing to say nothing, it has sent a clear message that booing Black players for standing up against racism is acceptable. So as it continues later on in the season, the NFL’s official silence will be to blame.
I’m not saying that there needs to be fines or points taken away, but a simple message on where the NFL stands is crucial.
For instance, imagine this on a personal level. If you were going to call yourself someone’s friend, someone’s advocate, and you saw them getting verbally attacked, would you jump in to interject or make a public statement condemning those bullies? If not, you’d be a a bad friend and an even worse advocate.
Gestures like commercials, anti-racism messages in end zones and phony apologies from Roger Goodell ring hollow when the league cowers when faced with actual racism. Standing firm on these issues is crucial, not just because more eyes are on the league than in the previous two years or due to the massive civil rights movements occurring before our eyes, but also because the league is 70% Black.
That metric, the massive percentage of black players, is crucial because if the league continues to falter on racial issues, then a sport already in decline could accelerate. Why would players move to a league that clearly doesn’t value them?
Not to mention, the league isn’t using a bubble like its counterpart, the NBA, considering that spreads have been disproportionately affecting people of color.
Combine this with a lack of Black coaching opportunities, the blackballing of players like Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid as well as the league’s insistence on having two national anthems — as if Black people aren’t citizens of the same country — and you see the tip of the iceberg of the full scale of its failings.
Hopefully, the NFL will realize its mistakes and do more to rectify the problems in its organizations. But until then, the 101st season of the NFL looks like it’s going to continue the same problems of the last 100 seasons.
Adonis Fryer is a sophomore studying communications at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Adonis by emailing him at email@example.com.