With high-level NFL executives thinking this way of players who advocate for justice, it’s no surprise that Kaepernick and Reed are viewed as untouchable outcasts in the league.
After the assassination of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis sparked weeks of violent national protests, the league was finally forced to change its mindset on race issues. Goodell stepped forward after the players called him to say something he had previously avoided: “Black lives matter.” He apologized for not doing this sooner and vowed that the NFL would change.
In the aftermath of the protests and civil unrest of 2020, the league continues to put a lot of emphasis on its perceived commitment to supporting women, LGBTQ people, and especially African Americans. This year, the NFL continued the practice of drawing nifty phrases like “End Racism” in end zones and letting players wear approved slogans like “Black Lives Matter” on the back of their helmets.
Hypocrisy is evident and most pronounced in matters of race.
Black players make up about 70 percent of the NFL’s rosters, including most of the league’s biggest stars. However, there are only five black team general managers. There are no majority black team owners.
And only three of the 32 head coaches are black, despite eight head coach vacancies in the last hiring period.
This is 2021.
Art Shell, the first black head coach in the modern league era, was hired in 1989, notably by the Raiders. There have been few real changes in 32 years.
Strong people, especially strong whites, are by far the most influential in professional football. The way they act, who they appoint and hire, what they say, and in this case, occasional jokes and derogatory insults highlight the league’s public speaking lies. These are the people who make the day-to-day decisions in football. And these emails showcased the true culture of the NFL.
This is the reality, no matter how Goodell and the owners of the league promote it.