The Players Tribune continues to be a medium upon which professional athletes are able to communicate their most intimate thoughts with great candor and honesty. During these contemporary times of political and social unrest, many have stepped into the fray with their words and thoughts. Most recently, former NFL defensive standout Takeo Spikes wrote an impassioned and well-thought out response to the current phenomenon of apathy and ignorance from his fellow NFL players who feel the need to speak against the NFL protests to bring light to police brutality and oppression that has permeated the headlines this offseason, as well as those who chose not to speak at all.
‘The home of the brave'” must be more than just the sweet-sounding words of a song. @TakeoSpikes51 writes. https://t.co/dAgg2A7RNy
Heres a portion of what he had to say;
I am writing in response to the spectrum of opinions from active and former NFL players related to an increase in athlete activism, and out of concern over issues of justice and freedom in America. I am particularly concerned about the depth and scope of uninformed and misinformed perspectives, and the abject ignorance displayed by some of my NFL brethren about realities at the confluence of sport, race and society in America. Some of what I have seen and heard is all the more disturbing because, like me, those current and former NFL players in question have spent a substantial portion of their lives in the locker room, in the game. Against an imperative of football culture, against prevailing, if not dominating opinion, they have apparently chosen to be quiet or to turn a blind eye to the political part of sports.
From racialized Black images in the sports media where labeling a Black QB as such is still pro forma in American sports journalism to the highlighting of Black transgressions, the message is clear. First and foremost, if you are a Black player, make sure that you do not run afoul of ownerships sentiments and sensitivities, political or otherwise. The watch word is to always be acceptable, notwithstanding what you might have to sacrifice in terms of your own personal integrity, honesty and authenticity. Its profoundly dismaying for me to see my former player peers long after they have left the game kowtow to NFL ultra-conservative, even reactionary, political convention.
Indeed, as Spikes so eloquently stated, mainstream sports media and the National Football League have combined to form a paradigm in which players are beholden to certain standards of conduct. If it were simply a matter of criminal circumstances or locker room behavior, I dont believe anyone would bat an eye. However, the gaslighting method of psychological warfare comes to effect here and we see a situation where the thoughts and beliefs of players are “policed” while the NFL itself continues its shady business as usual.
Silence is acceptance, if not collusion.” – @TakeoSpikes51 https://t.co/mZ4fLvLPK8 via @PlayersTribune
Legitimate player concerns are reverted, diverted or diluted by the mainstream media and the NFL to the point that players end up looking like the bad guys. With its decades old policy of pushing drugs on players to numb the constant physical pain that comes with a career where causing or enduring physical harm is normal, the National Football League would help itself a great deal by being a little less hypocritical and dogmatic.
In the meantime, players who come to work everyday and enduring these things for years are told that they cant have a political voice. Luckily, the Players Tribune was designed so that players can speak on issues in their own voice, unafraid, unabridged and unwavering. You can read the rest of Spikes article here.