The NFL’s New Politics Won’t Appeal To Rank And File Fans

Earl Mitchell (90), calling defensive signals for the San Francisco 49ers, thought he was done with football in November. Now he’s playing in the Super Bowl.(Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers)

It’s a world that is hard to recognize these days, and therein lies the problem. That said, when one man, Drew Brees, is forced to capitulate for speaking his heart, he is forced to bend the knee, and re-educate for the coming purity test. When another man, Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, honorable on every level, is widely praised for speaking his heart amid the turmoil in his hometown, he’s a hero for his candor.

Frankly, both are. Both spoke from a baseline of a passion they equally feel. Different subject matter, but both relevant in a time where logic and reasonableness are missing.

Criticism of Brees was prompt, overwhelming, and disappointing. Brees’ words, which should not have risen to the wrath levied by teammates and SJW mobs he now must genuflect to, were at worst, ill-timed. His words were not disrespectful, nor indicative of a cruel heart, and certainly not an indication he is anything less than a stand up citizen within and outside the league.

The NFL now has a problem, and it’s not just the one that requires it to bend a knee to prove its conformity. The problem that Roger Goodell has invited is the end of diversity of thought in team locker rooms. The league will now be judged when it does not participate in the group-think it is now required to. Meaning, if a player, league or team official sees the world and current social climate through a different lens, they will be subject to a rage mob approved cancel culture that is brewing on the horizon of professional sports, such as when Shannon Sharp suggested Brees should retire for his comments.

This isn’t good for sports and it won’t prove a good thing for the NFL. And please, spare me the diatribe dedicated to a need for all to see the world as you and your like minded lemmings do. One should absolutely find what happened in Minneapolis abhorrent. But one should also still be supportive of good and hard working law enforcement, and be respectful to the flag and what it means to those who defended it on distant battlefields. Which is a reasonable way to say you can have a diversity of thought.

As for Brees and Fitzgerald, they both spoke to what was on their mind. Yet while one was praised for his thoughtful and poignant words, another is guilty of saying what he said at a time where anything less than the mob approved message would be seen as egregious. This now extends to an NFL media less objective, but now rather, very woke. From Colin Cowherd to Jim Rome, bending the knee in affirmation from a guarded studio is the new “cred” to appeal to the latest generation of athletes needing to preach en masse.

The NFL will now be judged by how often it first self-flagellates for its inherent sins, and second, how often it is willing to bow to the demands of the rage mob order. While some fans will do the same, many won’t. I mean, let’s be honest, rank and file fans don’t ask for much. They won’t even flinch when their team doesn’t win. But what they won’t do is be told what to think. They also won’t tolerate being scolded for having a different line of thought for anything from politics, the current social climate, or the flag.

Roger Goodell has brought the league to the water’s edge. It’s a mistake that may ultimately define his legacy. He just better not expect for fans to wade in with him. Not now, and not ever.


About Steve Rivera 11 Articles
Steve Rivera has covered Arizona men’s basketball for more than 25 years, most recently for and For two decades, he covered UA for the Tucson Citizen, who in 2000 basketball analyst Dick Vitale named Steve one of the top 16 college basketball writers in America in his first and only list. Rivera has covered 17 Final Fours, three NBA Finals and two Olympic Games. He’s a frequent guest on sports talk shows in Tucson and Phoenix.