After Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd had all been murdered, and before Jacob Blake got shot in the back seven times, the NFL began its 2020 season on a Thursday night in Kansas City, where the limited number of fans in the stands decided to boo a moment of unity.
A lot has happened since then.
A group of white homegrown terrorists tried to overtake the government in the biggest temper tantrum since the Civil War, Conservatives are doing everything they can to ban Critical Race Theory as a way for future generations to never fully understand how racist America has been from the beginning, and the NFL admitted that they used race norming — a system that assumed that Black players started with lower cognitive functioning — when it came to reviewing claims in the $1 billion settlement of brain injuries.
There’s no telling what the rest of 2021 holds in store. But for some odd reason, NBC believes that nothing too controversial will take place, as Mike Tirico and Drew Brees will be working together this fall. It’s a gamble that is destined to fail if the duo has to ever address anything other than the X’s and O’s of football.
“I’m thrilled he’s with us. I can’t wait to hit the road and start working with him on Notre Dame football and for our Football Night in America studio show,” Tirico recently told People Magazine.
“I feel a great connection to Drew. In 2006 when I was doing my first year of Monday Night Football it was Drew’s first year with the New Orleans Saints, and the famous game where they came back to New Orleans for the first game after Hurricane Katrina.”
If you’re a viewer that believes in “sticking to sports,” then this is the broadcast duo for you. Last season, Tirico started the year off by hosting a useless conversation about race with Roger Goodell. The thought of it is even more hilarious when you realize that it featured the commissioner of a league that’s still blackballing players like Eric Reid and Colin Kaepernick, conversing with Tirico — a Black man who refuses to accept that he’s Black, as he considers himself Italian.
“Why do I have to check any box?” the self-proclaimed “Italian guy from Queens” told the New York Times in 2017.
And then there’s Brees. Last summer, he used Instagram to apologize after saying, “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country,” on the subject of kneeling in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis.
“I stand with the Black community in the fight against systemic racial injustice and police brutality and support the creation of real policy change that will make a difference,” said Brees, in one of his many useless apologies.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, these conversations about race that make so many uncomfortable aren’t going anywhere, especially when it takes place in sports — specifically, the NFL, a league that always makes the wrong decisions when it comes to conversations of consequence. Long gone are the days where sports serve as an escape to everyday life, as athletes have realized that their platforms are the perfect place to raise awareness for the ails of the communities they come from, issues they never get to escape from in their everyday lives.
The same thing is happening in Hollywood — another industry that’s been looked at by a lot of white people as an escape from everyday life. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s new movie, In the Heights, is catching a ton of heat due to a race issue, namely a lack of Afro-Latino representation in the film.
Race is the core fabric of America, which makes it an inescapable topic no matter how exhausting it may be. And as we get ready for another season of America’s game — both college and pro football — there will undoubtedly be serious moments that need to be addressed. Unfortunately, two people that have the power to lead those conversations are Mike Tirico and Drew Brees. A Black man who doesn’t want to be Black, and a white former quarterback who spent his entire life playing a game with Black people who only saw their uniform hues instead of their color.