Four NFL footballers penned a 10-page memo to league commissioner Roger Goodell, calling on him to actively support players who are campaigning for social justice.
On Sept. 7, NBA commissioner Adam Silver and NBA president Michelle Roberts issued a co-sponsored letter to their players offering encouragement and support of their social activism, Uproxx reports.
This initiative comes after several star players including Lebron James, Kevin Durant, and Stephen Curry have used their platforms to publicly speak out against the President Donald Trump administration.
Case in point, after the Golden State Warriors won the NBA championship earlier this year, several players — including Curry — announced that if the team was invited to celebrate their win at the White House, they would not attend because of their opposition to Trump. Oddly enough, the team never had to make that decision as the petty president uninvited them on Saturday.
The NBA officials’ letter vows that the league stands by its players’ decisions to promote and engage in social activism.
“None of us operates in a vacuum,” the NBA's letter states. “Critical issues that affect our society also impact you directly. Fortunately, you are not only the world’s greatest basketball players — you have real power to make a difference in the world, and we want you [to] know that the Players Association and the League are always available to help you figure out the most meaningful way to make that difference.”
This, however, is very different from the hands-off position that the NFL has taken with its athletes.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest was a catalyst to this recent meshing of social action and professional sports. However, he has been virtually blackballed by the NFL as teams refuse to hire him and many coaches have deemed his peaceful protest a distraction.
Additionally, other black players who are still employed by the league and have chosen to speak out on social issues don’t feel that they truly have the NFL’s support in their quest for racial equality. To rectify this, players Michael Bennett, Anquan Boldin, Malcolm Jenkins, and Torrey Smith teamed up to author the letter asking the commissioner to step up.
To its credit, the NFL does allow its players to exercise their First Amendment rights; however, the players’ memo points out that permission and support are not the same.
“To be clear, we are asking for your support,” a portion of the memo obtained by Yahoo Sports reads. “We appreciate your acknowledgement on the call regarding the clear distinction between support and permission. For us, support means: bear all or part of the weight of; hold up; give assistance to, especially financially; enable to function or act. We need support, collaboration and partnerships to achieve our goal of strengthening the community. There are a variety of ways for you to get involved. Similar to the model we have in place for players to get involved, there are three tiers of engagement based on your comfort level. To start, we appreciate your agreement on making this an immediate priority. In your words, from Protest to Progress, we need action.”
The letter cleverly uses the NFL's own words to drive the point home that action speaks volumes. Furthermore, it is imperative for a professional sports league in which black men make up more than 70 percent of its players.
According to Uproxx, the league has not yet responded to the memo. However, if NFL officials choose to ignore their players' pleas, catastrophic consequences may come as a result and drastically shift the world of American football as we know it.
Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: Reuters, Kevin Lamarque