By Kazemde Ajamu
Listen, I’m a diehard football fan, been so since 1968. Anyone who knows me, knows not to plan anything for me on Sunday afternoons and Monday nights. If my beloved Cowboys are playing, don’t even ring my phone. I’m just a fan, but I get it….
I get that you have worked extremely hard to get where you are. I get that some of you came from fatherless households, poverty stricken communities, mothers who work multiple jobs just to put food on the table, not to mention cleats, cups, and anything else in pursuit of your dreams.
I get that for some of you had white teachers, coaches, and families that saw something special in you and took you in as if you were they’re own family. Loved you and guided you through your dark moments. Made sure you stayed focused on improving your skills and going to the next level. I get it….
I get that you busted your asses in little league, high school and college just to have that opportunity on draft day to hear your name chosen by a NFL team. I get that you achieved something most young Black boys can only dream of…. You earned it and we are all proud of you. You made it and you deserve all the millions you have coming to you.
I get that an NFL owner sat down with you and your agent to negotiate the terms of your employment and with that came certain expectations. You’re there to do your job and put the team first, no different than any of the rest of us whose livelihood is dependent on a white owner signing that check. We’re expected to maintain the corporate culture and do not do anything to shine a light on behavior they deem a detriment to that culture. I get it….
I get that upon receiving that contract you have families to feed and mother’s to take care of, as you should. None of us have a right to demand that you put your career and families in jeopardy. I get that if you boycott or protest by not playing a NFL game, you are in breach of contract, therefor subject to being sued by the owner for upfront monies you have already received.
I get that some of you do give back to your communities by donating your time and money in public and private charities. I get that you don’t want to become a social activist, you just want to play football.
One of my favorite players Dez Bryant recently stated that he would not take a knee during the National Anthem because he has a "family to feed" and "not saying I don't care about it." He later went on to say, “We want positive surroundings,” he said. “Like I said, I’m the first to say – my childhood was bad, it was poor, but I don’t wear it on my shoulders. I don’t. I try my best to become a better person from it and try to do the exact opposite. That’s what I try to show people, that’s what I try to show these young kids.”
I get that his owner Jerry Jones made it clear to his players that if any player wanted to remain a Cowboy they better stand during the Anthem. I get it Dez, however do you really think that if you, Dak, Zeke, Orlando, and Tyrone took a knee, Jerry would trade or release you? Do you really think he would withhold your paycheck? Dez I’m certain that children living in poverty want “positive surroundings,” free from crime and police shootings of unarmed Black and Brown children. This threat Jerry is spewing is no different than the threat Donald Trump gave to the Mexican people that their government was going to pay for the wall. It seems that everyone knows but you and your fellow teammates that Jerry is talking out of both sides of his neck. On a side note, Jerry did contribute to Trumps Inauguration ceremony. Birds of a feather do flock together. He loves you as long as it suits his pockets, but when it comes to you standing up for social issues…..not so much. Sounds like Trump to me.
LeSean “Shady” McCoy speaking of Colin Kaepernick, "It's a lot more than just he's not on the team because he doesn't want to stand for the national anthem," McCoy said Thursday. "That may have something to do with it, but I think also it has a lot to do with his play. I'm sure a lot of teams wouldn't want him as their starting quarterback. That chaos that comes along with it, it's a lot. "As a team, trying to win and not have a distraction on the team, I just take that as a player -- there's certain players that could be on the team with big distractions, and there's other players that it's not good enough or not worth it. I think his situation is not good enough to have him on the team with all the attention that comes along with it. I'm sure if a guy like [Tom] Brady or a guy like whoever is your favorite player -- Odell Beckham or a guy like that -- you'll deal with that attention and play him."
Ahhhh Shady, didn’t you just admit that NFL teams can deal with outside distractions? Okay, only if that player has super stardom attached to their name. Aren’t you perpetuating the same injustice that Colin is standing up for? That if you have some status in life, society should forgive your ills. That it’s okay for a few police officers to kill unarmed victims because they are viewed as heroes and the protectors in this society? Bottom line Shady, you know damn well Colin is a better quarterback then at least a third of starting qb’s and most of the backups. You’d rather come up with a justification as to why you can’t stand with him. Tell the mothers of our fallen Brothers and Sisters that their child wasn’t great enough for you to stand by. That it’s just the way it is…. Please look them in the eyes and say that.
As for Mick Vick, Jerry Rice, and Ray Lewis, I ain’t got nothing for you. It appears that you have fallen into that sunken place. I get it….
This is what I don’t get, more importantly, what you don’t get. What message are you sending to the young boys and girls who are inspired by the success of professional athletes? Are you teaching them that to realize their dreams, they should capitulate to that almighty dollar? That they are supposed to ignore the injustices they see and feel? That they should look the other way when their friends are gunned down in the streets? Are we teaching them that they shouldn’t be social activist if they want to become a professional athlete?
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr stated:
""The Negro will only be free when he reaches down to the depths of his own being and signs with a pen and ink of assertive manhood, his own Emancipation Proclamation!"
Dr. King wasn’t just speaking to a few. He clearly stated, “The Negro,” that means each and every single one of us has to assert our manhood and womanhood when it comes to fighting injustices. You want to be free of cowering in the face of injustices, stand up. If you want to get the oppressor off your back, just stand up straight. This is the lesson we must give to our children. Each child has a special gift themselves, we need to create an environment that they can fulfill their purpose without the struggle that some of you professional athletes had to endure. You do have a responsibility, that is to pave the road for those that will come after you. If not, the cycle of silence and struggle will continue. At what point do we say enough is enough? If not you, then who? Let's not just leave the fight to those of us that don't have a voice. You have a platform, now use it.