With America still grappling with its racially divisive history, professional sports is still a platform where the predominant presence of Black players is still an issue for some.
The Green Bay Packers have included their fans in their business practices as shareholders since 1923. However, it doesn’t mean the fans always agree with their decision-making, and one made it clear they didn’t appreciate the fact that the team’s 2022 draft choices were all Black men.
In the monthly online column from Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy, he usually responds to questions from shareholders and fans.
However, Marilyn, a shareholder-fan, asked a question that directly steered into the racial polarization zone.
The Red Zone
“Out of the 11 players drafted by the Packers in the 2022 NFL Draft, none are white. I also looked at the first two rounds of 64 and found that only 11 players drafted by all the teams were white. When I Googled the question of how many white overall were drafted, Google wouldn’t answer it. I wonder why.
“I sure hope we aren’t going to have to hear all the whining about equity, justice, and all the markings on hats and shoes and all else. I suggest the NFL is actually racist for always choosing and highlighting black players. I am sure that is why you chose Love for a QB when he never should have been chosen.
“I hope the Packers will play the National Anthem and fly the flag high with the planes going over as they always have. Anyone who doesn’t respect and honor our flag and our military heroes does not belong on the Packer roster. So for the 2022-2023 season, let’s just play football and leave all the politics and racism out of the stadium.”
A League Of Meritocracy
Draft choices are based on building a team’s future for Super Bowl success, and with the NFL and its teams being a meritocracy, athletes are chosen based on performance. However, “Marilyn” believes the new additions to the Packers roster had another race element at play.
The question might be a lack of cultural diversity regionally. According to World Population Review, the 2022 demographics of Green Bay, Wisconsin, are 76.67% white, 5.98% other race, 5.45% two or more races, 4.21% Asian, and 4.20 percent African-American.
Still, in his monthly column, “Murphy Takes 5,” the Packers president addressed the question and the team’s 2022 draft decisions in the 2022 NFL draft.
The Packers’ Response
“Marilyn, I can assure you that the NFL and particularly the Packers are not racist when it comes to drafting players,” Murphy wrote. “Our draft decisions are based solely on the players’ abilities and whether we think they can help our team.
“In case you haven’t noticed, approximately 80% of the players in the league are Black, and it has been that way for many years. There was a time, though, many years ago when teams were reluctant to draft Black players.
“Vince Lombardi, who was discriminated against because he was Italian, helped change things when he came to Green Bay and built the Packers into a dynasty by focusing on bringing in Black players.
“I am very proud of our players, both Black and white, when they speak out on social justice and equity issues. They are in a privileged position as NFL players and can help others who are not so fortunate.”
The Green Bay Model
The Green Bay Packers are the only publicly-owned nonprofit corporation in major league sports in the United States, and it was founded on Aug. 18, 1923. Instead of one owner with partners, the Packers are owned by hundreds of thousands of fans.
The organization opened up the ranks four years after the team’s founding after facing bankruptcy. Currently, there are 360,760 shareholders, according to the Packers website. Shareholders do not receive any dividend on the investment.
America is still racially polarized and sports continues to be the vessel that it is shown prominently on.