On Friday, President Trump gave an impassioned white-power speech during a rally in Alabama. What has been widely reported is that Trump called players who protested “sons of bitches.”
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” Trump told a wildly supportive crowd. “You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it, [but] they’ll be the most popular person in this country.”
What was lost in Trump’s divisive rhetoric is a few lines that I think are quite telling:
“But do you know what’s hurting the game more than that?” he said. “When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they’re playing our great national anthem. The only thing you could do better is if you see it, even if it’s one player, leave the stadium.
“I guarantee things will stop,” he continued. “Things will stop. Just pick up and leave. Pick up and leave. Not the same game anymore, anyway.”
There you have it. Trump has drawn the line. At this point you have to pick a side: You are either on the #NFLboycott bus that allows black men to stand up (or kneel, rather) for what they believe in or you aren’t. It’s that simple.
Trump has told his followers to leave the game if players protest, and I’m telling you to stop watching, but either way, the belief from both sides is the same: If you stop supporting the NFL because it doesn’t share your beliefs, then the league will fold because it needs you. I’ve called you out and I’ve shamed you. I’ve made jokes about your person, and I did all of this because you are my brothers (and sisters) and I want you to be on the right side of history.
Supporting a league that has shown that it doesn’t support you is buffoonery, and I implore you to take off your tap shoes and stop the soft-shoe nonsense arguments like, “What will happen to the black concession-stand workers if I protest?” or “Why don’t we boycott the advertisers?” The movement is here, and I’m not sure what else it will take for you to pull the NFL needle from your arm, but I know this much: You are running out of excuses for continuing to support a game that not only doesn’t support you but has told you that speaking up for equal rights isn’t allowed.
Since I’ve heard several times that the NFL is like high-paid slavery, let me add another slave analogy to the fray. Colin Kaepernick is the slave who ran free from the plantation, and his “whiteballing” is a public lashing where the other slaves are being shown exactly what happens when you decide to break free.
In turn, marginal NFL talent is afraid to speak up. Those who know they aren’t better than Kap are afraid to speak up. And then there are those like Malcolm Jenkins (Eagles), Marcus Peters (Chiefs), Marshawn Lynch (Raiders), Michael Bennett (Seahawks), Robert Quinn (Rams), Martellus Bennett (Packers), Chris Long (Eagles), Rodney McLeod (Eagles), Justin Britt (Seahawks), Thomas Rawls (Seahawks), Cliff Avril (Seahawks), Frank Clark (Seahawks), Johnny Hekker (Rams) and Eric Reid (49ers), who have looked the situation in the face and decided to continue to take up Kaepernick’s protest.
At this point, what’s right is right, and I don’t care that you are late to the party, I’m just happy that you are here.