NFL Owners Don’t Actually Care

While Puerto Rico goes without power, and while the latest incarnation of Trumpcare failed to pass the Senate, Donald Trump has decided to focus on what is most important: picking fights with professional athletes. At a recent rally in Alabama he called NFL players who kneel during the national anthem “sons of bitches,” and advocated for privately owned companies to fire them for not being sufficiently patriotic.

The NFL is not a sport I generally put all my eggs in — I pay more attention to MLB and college basketball — but it has turned into a major preoccupation of mine. While Donald Trump is off making America great again, Colin Kaepernick singlehandedly made the NFL interesting again.

In a showing of (fake) solidarity last weekend, certain NFL owners lined up, arm-in-arm with their players to show “unity” — whatever that means. Where Kaepernick just a year ago had a very specific cause, and used his unique platform the best way he knew how, the movement has now turned into good PR and photo opportunities for billionaires who don’t give a single shit about inequality.

There were seven NFL owners who donated a million dollars to Donald Trump once he secured the Republican nomination. So that we will never forget, here is a list of said owners:

  1. Woody Johnson, New York Jets
  2. Robert Kraft, New England Patriots
  3. Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys
  4. Dan Snyder, Washington Redskins
  5. Shad Khan, Jacksonville Jaguars
  6. Bob McNair, Tennessee Titans
  7. Stan Kroenke, Los Angeles Rams

It’s baffling how these same guys are getting praised for issuing statements — statements that don’t really say anything — and standing alongside their players, when in reality they were totally cool with the prospect of Trump being in office. The owners understood then what many working class Trump supporters are only coming to grips with now, that Donald was never on the side of labor and always on the side of his billionaire buddies.

Like I mentioned earlier, there is actual shit going on in the world right now. There is actual shit going on in U.S. territory. Facing the largest humanitarian crises since he took office, Trump has failed to provide aid to Puerto Ricans — also known as U.S. citizens. After campaigning on repealing and replacing Obamacare on Day One, Trump’s third healthcare bill has failed. The GOP effort on the so-called Trumpcare has been so bad that even Republicans don’t want to vote that shit into law.

This is the man those seven NFL owners were comfortable handing a million dollars to. And now that Trump has called out football players for kneeling, those same owners are double-dipping and taking credit for standing alongside the players. How does that make any sense?

If any of the owners actually cared, then they would sign Colin Kaepernick right this second. They wouldn’t be locking arms with players during the national anthem. They wouldn’t be sending out dumbass press releases. And places like ESPN wouldn’t be celebrating them as if they took a serious stand for Kaepernick’s cause.

Over at Deadspin, Tom Ley wrote an article titled This Is All Bullshit, where I think he hits the nail on the head:

The worst irony here may be the way the NFL’s new marketing initiative not only appropriates the protests, but perverts their meaning. Kaepernick’s protest and the ones that followed were divisive, and were meant to be: That was the point, to ask people to choose sides, and to direct their attention to what’s going on in the real world beyond sports. Goodell and the owners, in asking everyone to come together around the cause of the NFL itself, have done what they always do, and made what they’ve touched cheaper and smaller.

None of this is meant to make myself sound like a cynic; I shouldn’t have to explain to you that billionaires aren’t particularly interested in the plight of black people. It should be understood, for the simple fact that Colin Kaepernick remains unemployed.

From Donald Trump’s perspective, this latest wave of nonsense is nothing more than a diversion from his own failures. He effectively made players kneeling during football games as the national conversation, simply to drive attention away from the fact that his entire presidency — but more recently the crises in Puerto Rico and failed healthcare bill — has been a failure at best, and a total disaster at worst.

Like all sports, football is supposed to bring people together. Even among the individual teams, players from all sorts of backgrounds come together with the single goal of winning a championship. It’s really kind of beautiful when you think about it.

So this is about the players, it’s not about ownership. As far as I’m concerned the owners are still the enemy, because what they represent is more in line with Donald Trump than the average American — the people with no voice who Kaepernick was bringing attention to in the first place.

I said it when I last wrote in detail about Colin, that his protest was not just a race issue. It’s a class issue. The players are the labor, and they are punching up at the ownership class. The owners don’t have anywhere to punch so they punch down. They sit back as cowards until it’s politically convenient for them to show support for their players. And now that they are involved, it has made this whole movement cheaper, like Tom Ley wrote.

This issue issue isn’t going away. If the league thought they only had to pay lip service this last weekend, because Trump called them out, then they are sorely mistaken. This movement is only going to get stronger, and louder in terms of numbers. The media have painted this recent showing as some sort of moment, or some form of solidarity between ownership and players. But that is not what happened.

What happened is Colin Kaepernick started something, and now that we’re here we know that this fire won’t be put out any time soon. Unless something drastic changes, and unless ownership puts real money behind Kaep’s original cause, this issue could very well turn into the straw that broke the camel’s back when it comes to the next collective bargaining agreement.

The players are more woke now than they have ever been, and it’s becoming clear there is nothing the ownership will be able to do about it.

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