To the Black Men Still Watching the NFL: NBA God Bill Russell Just Took a Knee

Bill Russell on April 9, 2014, in Austin, Texas (Ricardo B. Brazziell-Pool/Getty Images)
Bill Russell on April 9, 2014, in Austin, Texas (Ricardo B. Brazziell-Pool/Getty Images)

Among the pantheon of black athletes you don’t discuss negatively, Bill Russell is in the top five. All black men know that walking into a black barbershop and talking bad about Bill Russell is grounds for having your ass kicked. It’s like walking into a black church and talking bad about Jesus; it can bring out the violence in the most saintly.

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So it is armed with all that that I offer black men exhibit No. 1,364 as to why they need to get off the NFL dope.

A photo was posted to Twitter showing the 83-year-old basketball legend and former Boston Celtic kneeling in solidarity with athletes protesting police brutality and racial injustice, The Hill reports.

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“Proud to take a knee, and to stand tall against social injustice,” the caption reads.

In addition, Russell took the photo while wearing his Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, which was given to him by former President Barack Obama in 2011.

It’s getting harder and harder to keep turning a blind eye to injustice, and at this point, if you can’t turn off the TV when the NFL is on, then you are part of the problem.

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No more excuses. The great Bill Russell has spoken.

Read more at The Hill.

Senior Editor @ The Root, boxes outside my weight class, when they go low, you go lower.

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DISCUSSION

I don’t see how Bill Russell’s decision to kneel in solidarity with NFL players is a reason not to watch the NFL - my interpretation is that this is a show of support for the message rather than a call to boycott the league. The NFL is a league comprised primarily of Black players who are engaging in a clear political statement against social injustice and racial inequality. They’re using the platform that the prominence of the sport provides for them, and right now, the loudest voice advocating for a boycott is coming from Donald Trump. His response to this has been to make a talking point out of low ratings and issue a call to the nation’s bigots to reject the sport and it’s players over their protest.

It’s true that the NFL is a money-hungry, corporate behemoth that’s far more concerned with profit than it is with people. It’s also true that it’s run by a group of mostly white male owners who are about as close to the pulse of the social justice movement as the president they helped to elect. Unfortunately, the same is true of the NBA, MLB, and Fifa — watching major sports lines the pockets of mostly white, mostly male, mostly conservative ownership.

But the reality is, declining viewership isn’t really going to hurt these guys in the long run. They will still be rich and powerful. Rather, any prolonged dip in the ratings will only hurt the players in their collective bargaining efforts. Any hit to the profitability of the NFL is going to impact the players far more than the owners.