Close your eyes and imagine this scene.
A customer at McDonald’s is attempting to order an apple pie, as it’s the only thing they want from the restaurant. However, the employee behind the counter is trying to sell the customer on trying the cherry pie – knowing that the location doesn’t sell apple pies. But, instead of just admitting that to the customer, the employee keeps trying to suggest other desserts as a diversion, as the customer’s frustration grows.
The NFL is that McDonald’s employee. The customer is Black America.
A season after the league hilariously thought that the playing of the Black National Anthem before “The Star-Spangled Banner” during Week 1 would fix systemic racism, the NFL has decided to do it all over again – as if January 6th, 2021, didn’t happen.
According to a report from Front Office Sports, “the NFL also plans to make ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ — often referred to as the Black national anthem — a prominent part of all big league events.” The league will also slap social justice messaging on the fields – again – and on player helmets, along with PSAs that will be played in stadiums.
Who knew that singing a song that white America just discovered a few years ago at the Super Bowl and the draft, along with some stickers, was the cure for racism?
“They’re bringing back a lot of elements from last year,” a source told Front Office Sports.
Let me remind you how last year went. The league put “It Takes All Of Us” and “End Racism” in the end zones. If you were wondering, it didn’t end racism, and it doesn’t take all of us, as racism isn’t people of color’s problem to fix. It was so bad that the Texans and Chiefs got booed before the first game of the season for coming together for a moment of unity.
But, never fear, Jay-Z is here. According to the report, “Jay-Z’s Roc Nation is advising the league on the ‘Inspire Change’ initiative. Roc Nation is also working with the league to provide high-profile performers for events like the NFL Kickoff and the Super Bowl.”
WOW! The same concert performances that didn’t help race relations are on the agenda again. This sounds like an awesome plan.
But wait, it gets even better.
Roger Goodell, the league, and its teams are giving players the OK to take a knee to kneel in peaceful protest during the national anthem without repercussions. Imagine that, the NFL is allowing American citizens to do things that they already have the right to do while still blackballing Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid.
The NFL is a place that has never been low on audacity.
“I wish we had listened earlier, Kaep, to what you were kneeling about and what you were trying to bring attention to,” Goodell said last year. The comment was one of the most insensitive the commissioner has ever made, given that just months earlier he stated that the league had “moved on” from Kaepernick after he refused to take part in a sham of a “workout” the league planned at the last minute for him.
Last year, the NFL committed $25 million over a 10-year period to combat systemic racism. To many, the gesture seemed like a generous act. But that’s not the case when you realize that the league was coming off seasons in which they brought in $16 billion (2019) and $12 billion (2020) in revenue, meaning that $250 million over a decade is a drop in the bucket on their annual budget.
With football being America’s most popular sport and the NFL serving as this country’s most popular league, it will always play a huge role in race relations given that the players are approximately 70 percent Black. With that comes an air of responsibility. But, more importantly, it comes with an understanding of one’s self. And that’s the problem with the NFL. Instead of just admitting that they don’t really care about Black people, nor actually having a plan for addressing racial and social justice – besides throwing money at it and singing a song – they prefer to use diversion tactics and will try to sell you a cherry pie instead of just saying “we don’t serve that here.”