As the case of Colin Kaepernick has shown, silent demonstration is employment poison in the NFL. If a person wants to push their political views, it’s best to be in charge of a team, so they can also co-opt said team’s website and Twitter account to stump for an old high school chum.
Arizona Cardinals President Michael Bidwill went to Georgetown Prep in Maryland with Brett Kavanaugh, who Monday night was announced as Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick. Kavanaugh’s a conservative judge who once served as an aide to George W. Bush, and if he’s confirmed, he’ll be a real threat to reproductive rights and Roe v Wade. He recently came up with a nonsensical compromise (which was eventually overturned) in the case of a 17-year-old undocumented immigrant who wanted an abortion without obtaining familial consent. Kavanaugh sucks. Bidwill’s his buddy, though, which means that the Cardinals’ site can write a fluffy little human interest story on him and have Bidwell endorse his nomination. This tweet is chickenshit, the story even more so:
Similarly to how Broncos GM John Elway wrote a letter of recommendation for then–Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch—this message was supposedly an independent act by Elway that was unaffiliated with the Broncos, even though the letter included the team logo letterhead, Elway’s title, and the team HQ’s address—Bidwill and some prep school classmates rounded up signatures and sent a letter to Senate leaders explaining what a swell guy Kavanaugh is. (Yankees GM Brian Cashman makes a cameo as one of the signees.) Then, Bidwill had his NFL team write about it:
“The purpose of the letter is to talk about Brett as a person,” Bidwill, out of the country on vacation, said in a phone interview. “We have known him and known what a brilliant mind he has. He’s eminently qualified.
“I think now that he’s been selected by the President, he will go through a thorough vetting process and as they go through that process they will learn about the great person we know. He is a man of high character, high intelligence, excellence and independence. We want to speak up and show our support as former classmates and long-time friends.”
A big tip of the hat to AZCardinals.com’s Darren Urban, who wrote the article. Being a reporter for an NFL team’s official site already has the same status as running a corporate newsletter, with the added punishment of having to watch Blaine Gabbert flop around on a field, and yet Darren abandoned any remaining pretenses to dignity so that he could interview his vacationing boss about his pal that’ll try to make the country worse.
When the Cardinals played the Cowboys on the weekend that practically every team demonstrated, Bidwill locked arms with his players but stood for the national anthem. After the league announced its new policy in May, the Cardinals president said he was was grateful for the compromise—the compromise being that the NFL players either can stand for the anthem, kneel and be fined, or go demonstrate in the locker room where no one can see them. The NFLPA wasn’t consulted on this policy, and it turned out to be a cowardly, anemic gesture, one that not even all the owners agreed with, to get President Trump, a man who has no desire to compromise, to leave them alone. The White House framed it as a victory for flag humpers, and the people in charge of the NFL found it to be a relief, even if it came at the cost of their employees’ peaceful expression. “I look forward to getting the focus back on football and getting back to football in 2018,” Bidwill said after the introduction of the policy.
The Cardinals’ players, but really all NFL players, should take note. Elway and Bidwill won’t be the only bigwigs who pull this shit. It’ll keep happening, even as everyone at the top preaches about “getting back to football.” This is no compromise, and labor has more power than they may realize. Use it.