Super Bowl Sunday is upon us once again. The biggest sports and media day in the United States. Brands salivate over how much exposure their ads will receive. Grown men in their peak physical condition beat the living shit out of each other and risk permanent brain damage for a chance at glory and for our entertainment. Until recently, American Football was an untouchable cornerstone of American culture. But now, given all of the static around the treatment of the players, the right to protest, and the dangers of the game as a whole, enjoying the game without fielding some kind of conversation seems not only impossible but disingenuous. Let’s get into it….
Sidestepping the scientific studies about the game of football and its relation to concussions and CTE, we’ll mainly be focusing on what we think is the biggest topic that involves the NFL today; Colin Kaepernick being blackballed from the league for non-violent protest and his subsequent lawsuit against the NFL for collusion.
Just to recap quickly, If you don’t know by now, Colin was the franchise QB for the San Francisco 49ers. Frustrated with young black men being gunned down in the streets of America, he protested by taking a knee and ultimately sitting during the national anthem. His reasoning;
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color…To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people are getting paid leave while getting away with murder.”
The fallout has been a complete clusterfuck, even getting to the point where the “president” of the United States weighed in and pressured the league to punish players for not standing for the anthem. You’ve got people calling Colin a hero, striking resemblance to Ali’s protests against bigotry and unjust war in Vietnam. On another hand, we have people angry about players taking a knee and calling anyone that does so Unamerican. (We call those people racists).
Looking over the fact that NFL teams have needed QBs and have picked up far inferior players over the last few years instead of Colin adds insult to injury. When asked if Colin should be on an NFL team, 95% of players answered YES.
Look, you’ve been through all this before, so we don’t want to drag you back through the controversy, but just so you know, most people of color are still not happy with Colin’s treatment or the league’s handling of this matter.
We’ve actually had this conversation many, many times, but the reason for bringing this back is the 2019 Pepsi Halftime show. Yes. The halftime show.
“I said no to the Superbowl, you need me, I don’t need you/Every night we in the endzone, tell the NFL we in stadiums too” – JAY Z / APESHIT
The NFL announced in late 2018 that Maroon 5 would be headlining the Halftime show. Great. Awesome. But does that tell the whole story? The NFL first asked Hov to perform at the halftime show and he basically told them to go fuck themselves. We already know that he rides wit Colin and he was making a point. ‘You gotta do right by us before we play your shows’.
They asked Rihanna. Declined.
Called Cardi. FOH.
Usher. Yeah? Nope.
Mary J. Blige. Nigga please.
Andre 3000. *crickets*
All said no to show solidarity with Colin. This brings us to Travis Scott (and now, Big Boi?!). Trav will be playing with Maroon 5 during the show. When he was up for the job, it was reported that Hov tried to talk him out of it (for the above-mentioned reasons). He was unsuccessful. Most of the online reaction was interesting, to say the least.
Rapper – Meek Mill: “For What???”
Editor – Monique Judge: “Of course a Kardashian nigga is doing the Super Bowl.” (Ouch)
Activist – Al Sharpton: “I think he should do what a lot of other major artists have done. Say ‘I’m not going to participate…You can’t fight against Jim Crow and then go sit in the back of the bus.”
Actor/Producer – Michael B. Jordan: “Hopefully it’s a rumor. We are trying to stand behind something right now. We all have to try collectively.”
There’s no question that we support Colin. The question is, how do we each feel about how the protests have played out so far.
F. Dougie: First things first: I don’t fuck with the NFL. I can’t support them as an organization right now and for that reason, I don’t consume their content. I won’t be watching the Superbowl and I haven’t for the last 2 years. That’s My personal choice and point of view.
I don’t condemn people that do watch the NFL. Do your thing. Watch the games. Play fantasy football. Do what you do. No judgment here. In my opinion, not watching their product or purchasing their merchandise is a great way to protest their treatment of Colin Kaepernick and shows solidarity for the players while they may not have the luxury to do so. In this scenario, for the purposes of the protests, I think that musical artists do have some level of influence over culture and can send a message to the NFL and their sponsors by banding together and saying “We don’t agree with the way that you have handled this, and we won’t be playing your shows until you come correct.”
Me personally, I’m disappointed in Travis Scott (Big Boi, and anyone else who decides to participate). Do I think he’s a sellout? No. An Uncle Tom? No. We’ve seen these words thrown around online like deflated footballs (Shoutout to the GOAT. I see you MAGA Tommy. Tell Yeezy we said ‘What up’). But if we are really supposed to be together in this, I think that vilifying brothas for making their own decisions is a bad look.
Of the above comments, I think that most are coming from a place of love. Meek said he still rode with Travis, and I still support the young brother as well. 2018 was an amazing year for him and it seems like he wants to capitalize on that momentum.
Sure, there are people out there talking about “Cancel Travis!”, but I think that’s extreme and is a conversation for another time. Idris, what do you think about the protests and the Superbowl performers?
Idris Gray: Thank God the NBA knows how to treat its players. I don’t know if I could stop watching then Kobe, and now Lebron leading those Lakers to their next championship. But while the demographics of the players in these two leagues might be similar, 70+ percent for both. There is one fact of the makeup of the fans that isn’t lost on me. Basketball is sacred in the black community. While Football is more of a white thing. At least that’s my perception of it. And I think it’s proven in how the NFL is behaving on this matter.
Both sports leagues cater to their fans. And it’s sad that while one league tries to be inclusive, the other is stuck on stupid. Remember Donald Sterling? Yeah, he was the former owner of The Los Angeles Clippers who was forced to the sell the team after making racist remarks about blacks. He was also banned from basketball for his inflammatory words. Why such a harsh punishment? I like to think its because the NBA wants to set an example of how progressive a sports league should be. Which is necessary since racism in US sports still happens even at the highest levels in the NBA, MLB, and NFL.
F. Dougie: Right. Look at how they still treat Serena.
Idris Gray: So yes I’m in line with the protest. The NFL is certainly in the wrong for locking Kaep out. BUT, and yes there’s a but, I won’t condemn Travis Scott here. On Sunday, Travis Scott will be one of many black men participating in the festivities of the Super Bowl. There will be a number of black men suited up, playing a sport for the entertainment of millions, just like Travis. And yes, before you say anything, I understand why it’s different.
Perhaps these athletes don’t have quite the same opportunity to protest as Travis. Some may even say that protesting as an athlete on the field would have no effect, as there are many willing participants who would jump at the opportunity to take a players place. I would disagree with both points. First, by saying, that no protest is supposed to be convenient, sacrifices and costs are usually high. And 2nd by saying that the black athletes in the NFL are so essential to the success of the league, that just the outrage from fans from not seeing their favorite players, might be the catalyst needed to bring the issues that Colin was fighting for, back to light.
So what am I asking from the players? I’m not even sure what they are doing. Are they still taking knees? I’m sorry. I don’t watch the NFL. Are they putting fists up? I couldn’t tell you. But that’s part of the issue. I hear outrage that Travis is playing the Superbowl. But none that every single black athlete is doing the same.
F. Dougie: Great points. Since you brought up fans condemning people in the public eye, let’s talk a little about ‘Cancel Culture’.
This is gonna be a big one Y’all, so join us next week when we really get into it.