NFL Stars And Marty B Speak Out

Powerful messages.

Jim Rome
June 05, 2020 - 9:19 am
Martellus Bennett

USA Today

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Last night, a group of NFL stars including Patrick Mahomes, Saquon Barkley, Michael Thomas, Tyrann Mathieu, Deshaun Watson, Jarvis Landry, and Odell Beckham Jr. released a powerful video addressing the league. Roll it.

At the end, they call on the league to state the following: “we the National Football League, condemn racism and the systemic oppression of black people. ... We, the National Football League, admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting. ... We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter."

It is powerful in its simplicity. And in holding the league accountable, particularly for silencing players who peacefully protested. And that isn’t just about Colin Kaepernick, it’s also about players who were told to stay in the locker room or tunnel instead of peacefully demonstrating on the sideline.

A simple, powerful video with a very clear message – if teams and the league want to release statements, here is a statement we want you to release. Don’t just give the usual cliché riddled statement about racism being bad. Be clear and unambiguous about where you stand.

And if you thought that a straightforward message like that would get a universally positive response on Twitter, you don’t know Twitter and you don’t know people. Because all you have to do is check the replies to any of the players who tweeted the video and you’re hit with a wave of “yeah, but” and “what about.”

And if you want another voice on this, let’s check in on Martellus Bennett. Because in the wake of the comments from Drew Brees, Bennett got on Twitter and he let it rip. He went with a Twitter thread that was so long and so incredible, I don’t have time to read the entire thing on the air, but he covers racism in the league, coaching, hiring practices, sports media, and the fact that white quarterbacks have said and done nothing on injustice for far too long. Here are a few highlights:

Damn y’all thought Drew would say something different than what he did? Followed by three crying-laughing emojis.

Tell me one white QB that truly stands for something other than their Captain America images....

Not one of them spoke up when it wasn’t easy to speak up. Now they writing statements.

And y’all wanna applaud them for these statements, when y’all crucified every athlete that said something by protesting in the beginning. Locking arms was always stupid. There was no risk in locking arms. It was no diff from these corporate BLM statement.

That is the absolute truth. The comments from Brees this week weren’t much different from what he said four years earlier. And weren’t much different from what other white players said four years ago. At that time, star white players standing up and speaking out in support of Colin Kaepernick and others, could have made a huge difference. But it didn’t happen.

Bennett goes on: Look I’m happy they’re saying something... But when they had a chance to make a big play for their black teammates and colleagues most of em remained silent, showed ignorance or didn’t say anything of importance when it was really needed.

Funny thing is that if the white guys I showered with, slept next to, s-ed next to, counted on etc etc would never speak up for me, how could I ever expect the white folks I never spent any time with at all to do so?

That is another heavy truth. The league and players love to talk about how a team is a family. How everyone who puts on pads and a uniform is a brother, but as Bennett lays out, where were his brothers on this? The guys that he played with, sweat with, worked with, lived with, where they on this one?

And then he closes out his thread with two more extremely powerful tweets: 

Let’s not being ignorant. You have a HOF QB in Drew talking about protesting the military when taking a knee. It’s been forever long how the bleep do you still not know what your black “brothers” are fighting for?

You get in front of millions on your platform and give an ignorant statement bleeping up the message dudes have lost their jobs fighting for. You and your friends need to take your knees off of the necks of your black teammates and stand for something.

Wow! That is perfectly said. As we talked about yesterday, it’s been four years since Colin Kaepernick started his protest. It’s been four years since everyone knew what that protest was about. So how did Brees not know that?

If you are in a locker room every single day and spending time every single day with your teammates, how do you not know that? How could you ignore that and still go with something about the military and the flag? It’s beyond ignorant and venturing into willfully ignorant.

And it’s not just for Brees, it’s for every white player and I’m going to extend that to every white fan. If you pledge to care about the game and the players who play it, then listen to the issues and understand what’s being said. Listen. Take it in. And see what you can do to change things.

Don’t say “yeah, but” or “what about” and then come in with some idiotic statistic or dopey argument about crime in certain cities. That’s not the issue at hand. And even if it was, be honest, you don’t actually care about crime in that city anyway.

And if your beef is with the phrase “black lives matter,” you haven’t done enough to understand the message. As has been said countless times before, when someone is raising money for cancer research, you don’t run up to them and scream “WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER DISEASES!”

Challenge yourself on this one. Be better. Grow. Either that or just admit that you don’t care about athletes as people and just want them to be robots who play for your entertainment.