For a few hours on Saturday, things got uncomfortable for the ownership of the Kansas City Chiefs.
BREAKING: Patrick Mahomes says he is refusing to play another game for Kansas City until they change the team name.
“The term Chiefs is offensive to Native Americans and I’m sorry I encouraged the use of it for 3 years. It’s time for change.”
This was the moment. Sh*t was finally about to hit the fan.
Unfortunately, we’d soon realize that it was all a hoax. The tweet was fake, and the ownership in Kansas City went back to being comfortable again.
What if it was real?
What if, for once in the history of the NFL, a single player, especially a quarterback that happens to be Black, who was untouchable by every measurable standard, drew a line in the sand and refused to budge until he got what he wanted? This is precisely the type of action Native American leaders are calling on players in Washington, D.C., to do.
One of two things would happen. The football team in Kansas City would have a new name. Or, the football team in Kansas City would be without arguably the best player in the game.
Either way, old, rich, white, male team owners would be shaken to their core. Former Houston Texans owner Bob McNair would be rolling over in his grave, as the “inmates” would be running the prison. And you can bet that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones would be somewhere re-enacting the infamous scene from Spike Lee’s 1992 film “Malcolm X,” as a white police officer stands by watching the command Malcolm has over his followers.
“That’s too much power for one man to have.”
To understand the magnitude of the great “what if” when it comes to the fake tweet, you first have to understand how the power dynamic between players and the league/owners has always worked.
Players don’t have a great resume when it comes to taking a stand against the league. Throughout the multiple lockouts and strikes that have occurred, the players have only gotten their demands met a handful of times, as they’re usually on the losing end of “negotiations.”
Two of the most well-known work stoppages happened in the 1980s, as the 1982 strike ended with the players revolting against their union. In 1987 the “scab” strike happened, as teams played with an assortment of replacement players, and veterans who were willing to cross the picket line.
And in 2018, a group of Hall of Famers tried to stage a boycott of the annual Hall of Fame festivities to receive health insurance and an annual salary. Within hours it led to drama amongst the game’s greatest players as it highlighted the long history that NFL players have had when it comes to presenting a united front.
NFL owners aren’t used to giving in because they’ve never had to. And that’s what made NFL Twitter go crazy on Saturday, because for a few hours it felt like the game had been changed.
And while the owners aren’t bracing for impact just yet, it does feel like a storm could be brewing offshore. Recently, Mahomes has started to speak up about racial and social issues and has been vocal in his support for the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as joining LeBron James’ “More Than A Vote” campaign to combat voter suppression.
Earlier this month, Rob Parker asked “Where are the voices of Black quarterbacks?” on this very site. He wanted Mahomes, Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott, Lamar Jackson, and Deshaun Watson to use their platforms in this important moment, as they’ve reached a level in which they could never be blackballed — as Colin Kaepernick was — for addressing the issues.
Since then, many of them have spoken up, like Mahomes. They’re not remaining silent as they did in the past.
“You’re putting everything [on the line]. For me, personally, anything on the air, politics or religion, I stay away,” said Watson last year.
“Why? Because there can be a right and a wrong, and a yes or a no, but in reality everyone is going to have their own opinion. You’re fighting a battle that you can’t really win.”
Since then, Watson has joined marches in Houston for George Floyd and petitioned for the removal of John C. Calhoun’s name, a slave owner, from the honors college at Clemson, his alma mater.
During this pandemic, a lot has changed. Trolling, however, has not. A few months ago there was a fake tweet about Colin Kaepernick signing with the New York Jets that felt so real that a FOX affiliate in North Carolina ran it on their site.
And while Kaepernick is still unemployed and Mahomes hasn’t given owners in Kansas City the ultimate ultimatum, the message is clear.
The power that black quarterbacks have in the NFL is unlike no other, even when it’s “fake news.”