NFL Players Need to Follow NBA Brethren’s Example

It's been a week since the NBA banned Donald Sterling for life after the Los Angeles Clippers owner was caught on tape in a racist rant.

The most interesting development to emerge from the Sterling ordeal was how impressively the NBA players union handled this hateful mess.

The players – soft for decades on important issues – were strong from the outset, putting pressure on NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

It was clear that players were going to boycott playoff games if Sterling got just a slap on the wrist instead of a death sentence.

When Silver threw the book at Sterling – which included the process of forcing him to sell his team along with a lifetime banishment – the players clearly won.

On that day, it was interesting to see NFL players tweet in support of their NBA brothers.

Sadly, the NFL players union has been even softer than players from the Association. So often, they have been pushed around and bullied by their own commissioner.

Often, they never fight back. It's why they are the only professional sport in this country without guaranteed contracts.

In this case, the NFL had a similar situation this past year and handled it totally different.

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper got caught on video using the N-word last year. Not to one person, but about all black people at a country music concert.

Cooper got off.

The suspension-happy NFL turned the other way, not dishing out a punishment.

The Eagles' penalty was lame, just fining Cooper and sending him to sensitivity training.

To make matters worse, Riley was rewarded this offseason with a new fat contract.

Don't blame the NFL or the Eagles, though. Blame the lame players – both the Eagles and the other players around the league.

They let Cooper skate. There was no pushback, no outrage.

How was it any different from what Sterling was caught saying on tape about black people? And ironically, Sterling never used the N-word. Cooper did and was allowed to keep playing.

It would have been an open and shut case had star Eagle players went into coach Chip Kelly's office and asked one simple question: Is he practicing today?

If Kelly said yes, they could have said they weren't as long as Cooper is on the team. Cooper would have been gone.

Instead, the players allowed a guy who had no issue using a degrading word in public despite a league and locker room where more than 70% of the league is African American.

The NFL players union has also turned its head to the Washington Redskins flap over team's racist name.

It's not a Native American fight. It's a right- wrong fight.

If white people didn't join in the civil rights fight, change would have been much harder and taken even longer to come by.

The Washington name controversy could have been solved already.

You wouldn't need Native American groups to protest or picket outside stadiums around NFL America. You wouldn't need the NFL commissioner to step in use his ultimate power to get this name change to happen.

 All it would take is for all African American players on the team to stand together and demand it.

Yes, it's that simple.

They can tell Washington owner Daniel Snyder that they won't play again until the name is changed.

Snyder, who can't give a good reason on why he won't change the racist name, told the media it won't happen under his watch: "We'll never change name. NEVER – you can use caps."

We know the cry babies out there would be quick to say why should players have to fight this battle against their boss, possibly losing money?

Many have made such sacrifices to get things changed. It normally takes brave people to speak out about the ills in a society in order for things to get better.

In the wake of the Sterling case, it's shameful that players have largely remained silent through this controversy.

Pushed by the players, Silver showed tremendous leadership in trying to cleanse his league that had been dragged through the mud for days now.

"We stand together in condemning Mr. Sterling's views," Silver said. "They simply have no place in the NBA. Sentiments of this kind are contrary to the principles of inclusion and respect that form the foundation of our diverse, multicultural and multi-ethnic league."

NFL players should believe in the same exact thing. Better yet, they should be willing to act when that's threatened and stop sitting on the sideline when controversy shows up.

NBA players acted with courage.

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