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Race, Politics And Football

The idea of racism being some distant societal malady is one that finds its greatest supporters in the unlikeliest of places, among descendants of former slaves.

The idea of racism being some distant societal malady is one that finds its greatest supporters in the unlikeliest of places, among descendants of former slaves. Back when Colin Kaepernick first began his protest against police brutality and people of color, there were many of his fellow NFL players who self-identified as Black coming out in droves to a viewpoint contrary to Colin’s.

Some, like NFL analyst and Hall of Famer Chris Carter, were retired. Others were still in the league.

But no matter their station, each could could not come to terms with what Kaep was talking about. Indeed, because many players were coddled almost from the time their considerable talents revealed themselves in adolescence, many of their proxy guardians via coaching and academics being White Americans, the concept of racism is somewhat murky.

The NFL hierarchy is largely above 50 years old, white and male.  Most held Mike Ditka up as a model of male toughness and wisdom for decades: the same Ditka who went on a racist rant back in September. 


It’s hard for them to see how a society that allows some of them to make a king’s ransom by playing a child’s game could possibly be antithetical to them and their loved ones in any form – whether interpersonal or systematic.  


But recently two NFL players suffered indignities counter to that theory when racism manifested its duality in their lives. Linebacker Brandon Marshall of the Denver Broncos was one of the first players in the National Football League to join Colin Kaepernick in his protests by kneeling during the national anthem of each game. He has lost endorsements for it as well as a significant portion of Denver’s largely white fan base.

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By exercising his First Amendment Right to free speech, Marshall has invited a great deal of animus upon himself. That animus can be summed up by the following letter. As you can see, the letter, while barely legible, rips into Marshall’s very humanity, and his rights as a citizen born and raised in the United States.

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By exercising his rights, Marshall has been deemed by one-time fans as everything but a human being. This is how systematic racism works. American rights that are supposedly free and clear for every American citizen to explore are stamped with a societal asterisks when explored by people of African descent.


He’s just supposed to be happy with what he has and should not “bite the hand” that feeds him. Never mind his pride as a man of color or his empathy for unarmed and innocent men and women being gunned down in the streets unimpeded.

Another incident occurred last week when New York Giants fullback Nikita Whitlock returned home to his New Jersey apartment to find that he had been robbed, and the walls of his dwelling were scrawled with swastikas and racist imagery.


“Go back to Africa”, “KKK” and “Trump” were among the many messages scrawled throughout the apartment.

“It just re-establishes that no matter where you are, no matter who you are, this can happen to you,” Whitlock said. “Its about to be 2017. Oppression, violence, racism, hatred, violence, theres no need for that.”

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Yes, it is about to be 2017, but there is no half-life on racism. It doesn’t begin to exponentially dissipate over time. Even deadly radiation decays over time, but racism does not. Why? Because it is constantly fueled by the ignorance and fear of society at large, and the demagoguery and scapegoating of that society’s leadership.

Recently, former NFL greats Jim Brown and Ray Lewis appeared at Trump Towers in New York to meet with president-elect Donald Trump.

We couldnt have had a better meeting, the 80-year-old Brown gushed afterward. “The graciousness, the intelligence, the reception we got was fantastic.



Brown, who is the template upon which many Black athletes base their activism, says they also discussed merging his Amer-I-Can nonprofit program with the Trump administration.


The bottom line is job creation and economic development in these urban areas to change the whole scheme of what our kids see … hes wide open to really helping us change what hasn’t been changed.

Brown also told CNN that three of the greatest people he had ever met were white.

Lewis, whose antiquated ideas on race and society have been well documented by The Shadow League, has long been critical of black activism in the modern era and largely espouses respectability politics over any substantive change in public policy toward Black people in America.

Later, Brown went on to say that he had “fallen in love” with Donald Trump after their pow-wow while Microsoft founder Bill Gates told reporters Trump reminded him of John F. Kennedy.


To each his own, I guess, but JFK never proposed banning an entire population from entering the United States nor did he speak of building a wall along the country’s borders or massive deportations, either. The viewpoints of Lewis, Brown and Gates have shown they’re all out of touch with the common man.

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For Brown and Lewis, each of whom escaped serious charges in their past, the fact that both of them are not rotting in a jail cell somewhere is indicative of the privilege that their status has garnered them in society at large.  But just because you’re old doesn’t necessarily mean you know what you’re talking about. Sometimes people outlive the validity of their own viewpoints.

Brown, who was arrested several times on charges of spousal abuse, and Lewis, who escaped a murder charge in 2000, are so out of touch with daily black reality that it is almost laughable. But all good chuckles must come to an end.

Trump has said racist things, he is attempting to hire racists to his cabinet and he was voted in by the Nazis, I mean the Alt-Right. You give a white man power and money, and there will ultimately be a cavalcade of black folks lined up to lick his proverbial boots – and perhaps his literal boots, too.


With the current, heated atmosphere of hate permeating the very air of American politics, many who see themselves as proxy for black leadership will reveal themselves as being little more than opportunists and, dare I say it, sellouts.


Ricardo A Hazell has served as Senior Contributor with The Shadow League since coming to the company in 2013. His byline has appeared in the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the South China Sea Post, the Root and many other publications. At TSL he is charged with exploring re black cultural angles of where they intersect with the mainstream.