Does the National Football League Resemble Slave Plantations?


Southwest Tribune Newspaper, Rochester, NY

In a piece by Mel Reeves that is titled “Imagine that standing up for the rights of Black people in a very public forum is now categorized as a mistake,” was a response to Former San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick being blackballed by NFL owners of teams to never again play the game he loves.

Kaepernick stood up against racism and police violence, both of which are important to the rich and powerful in maintaining their hold on America’s society.

“The NFL owners are hypocrites,” Reeves points-out. “What does the flag and the national anthem have to do with professional football? Not a thing the pageantry is about getting fans to tie country and sports together in a way that guarantees people will be interested in making it America's pastime. When owners introduced the flag and the national anthem, they introduced politics into the game.”

Black people using sports as a platform to advance racial justice in this country is nothing new to the world of sports and their fans.

How could the owners dismiss or forget athletes like National Football League’s Hall of Fame Running Back Jim Brown, who never hesitated to tell the truth about the racial injustices that festers within America’s society?

How can they dismiss or forget the heroics of Muhammad Ali, who sacrificed his boxing career in his prime to protest the war in Vietnam? And the list goes on.

Kareem Abdul Jabbar observed that Kaepernick’s stand was not un-American, but what was un-American is the failure of the country to address the reason for his stand, Reeves says.

He thinks that Jabbar has it wrong, because a growing number of whites as well as the power structure have no intention of bringing about an end to racism or police violence, to do that would be un-American.

“It would cut into the profits of the ruling rich by making it much more difficult to divide and rule, which is what racism effectively does. And it would end the reason for living for those who relish and cherish White Supremacy,” he said. “Kaepernick threatens their bottom line, unlike the wife beaters and drug abusers and stick-up men in his employ. The fans are likely to forgive someone who has been arrested 10 times if he is a good player. But the thoroughly indoctrinated folks who make up the USA are quickly offended by a seemingly ungrateful Negro who is not appreciative of all the bountiful goodness the White settlers have afforded him here in this Shangri-la,” he said.

Kaepernick’s new documentary, ‘Colin in Black and White’ compares the NFL Draft process to slavery.

“History teaches us that slavery is the worst stain on our country; Kaepernick points-out. “The way that people were sold into slavery, against their will, chained, and beaten into working plantations is a human atrocity.

However, that’s what it was. People being sold for money and forced to work against their will, frequently in poor living conditions, was slavery. In the clip, Kaepernick compares that process to the NFL Draft.”

“But let me tell you, what they don’t want you to understand is what’s established is a power dynamic,” he said. “Before they put you on the field, teams poke, prod and examine you. Searching for any defect that might affect your performance. No boundary is respected. No dignity left intact.”

Six years after Kaepernick took a knee in protest Brian Flores, the former head coach of the Miami Dolphins filed a lawsuit in February 2022 against the NFL, the New York Giants, the Denver Broncos and the Miami Dolphins organizations alleging racial discrimination.

Currently only one out of 27 head coaches employed in the NFL is Black, with five teams without a head coach in a league where roughly 70% of the players are Black. There are two other non-Black minority coaches -- one of Puerto Rican and Mexican descent and one of Lebanese descent.

Flores' lawsuit claims that in 2019, he was subjected to another "sham interview," this one with the Denver Broncos. Flores says that "Broncos' then-General Manager John Elway, President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Ellis and others showed up an hour late to the interview" and adds that the Broncos' delegation "looked completely disheveled, and it was obvious that they had been drinking heavily the night before."

Flores also says Dolphins' owner Stephen Ross offered to pay Flores to purposely lose games in order to secure a higher pick in the NFL draft and encouraged Flores to purposely violate league tampering rules. Flores says when he refused, Ross then led a campaign to treat Flores with "disdain and held out as someone who was noncompliant and difficult to work with."

Lawsuit demands damages and change

The lawsuit was filed in US District Court in the Southern District of New York and asks for monetary damages and injunctive relief.

That relief would come in form of the NFL and its teams:

-- Increasing the influence of Black people making hiring and firing decisions for top positions

-- Creating a committee to increase ownership diversity

-- Requiring teams to explain hiring and firing decisions in writing

-- Creating a training program for Black assistant coaches who want to take a step up and become offensive or defensive coordinators.

-- Making transparent the pay of general managers, head coaches and coordinators

-- Creating monetary, draft or salary space incentives for hiring and retaining Black GMs and top coaches

-- Involving more Black players and coaches in interviews for those positions

-- Requiring teams to show side-by-side comparisons of criteria for employment decisions
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