Politics and sports aren’t supposed to overlap.
I mean, sure, boxing legend Muhammad Ali was almost robbed of his career because of his refusal to participate in the Vietnam War, and racial disparities in America inspired track and field stars Tommie Smith and John Carlos to bring a pair of raised fists to the 1968 Olympics. And who can forget the Miracle on Ice? Or Hitler hosting the Olympics to fuel his own perilous propaganda?
But dammit, politics and sports aren’t supposed to overlap—even though there’s clearly a lengthy history of the two doing exactly that. So despite the First Amendment being ratified in 1791, in 2019, athletes are expected to “shut up and dribble” or stand for a national anthem with racist origins.
Clearly having none of that, however, is retired Baltimore Ravens legend Ed Reed, who cemented his status as one of the realest of all-time when he rolled up to Thursday night’s NFL Hall of Fame game rocking this:
Despite NBC’s best efforts to hide it from those of us watching from home.
If none of those faces look familiar, allow me to help (from top left to right):
- Trayvon Martin, 17
- Alton Sterling, 37
- Tamir Rice, 13
- Philando Castile, 32
- Sandra Bland, 28
- Sean Bell, 23
- Eric Garner, 43
- Freddie Gray, 25
All of whom were either shot and killed by the police, died in police custody, or had a police officer directly died to their death, the lone exception being Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed by a coward named George Zimmerman in 2012.
Reed’s shirt not only made a profound statement, but was a clear shot at the NFL and its mistreatment of Colin Kaepernick, who’s been blacklisted from the league since 2017 for using his platform to address police brutality. This the same league that’s offered plenty of other players refuge despite their vastly inferior talent or egregious behavior.
Last year, NFL legend Randy Moss paid a similar tribute to victims of police violence with a tie he wore to his Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
“What I wanted to be able to express with my tie is to let these families know they’re not alone. By these names on my tie and a big platform as the Pro Football Hall of Fame, there’s a lot of stuff going on in our country,” Moss said at the time. “I just want to let these family members know that they’re not alone.”
Shoutout to Reed for his glorious display of civil disobedience and proving once again that yes, sports and politics do overlap.