The NFL Can Go to Hell

78088-650-366I don’t want to tell people that they are wrong for supporting the NFL, or for wanting to watch the games. That would suck. But the NFL needs to change its evil ways. From its profiting off of racism to its denial in damaging of football players to its welfare reception from cheating on taxes.

First, Dan Snyder makes boatloads of money with the official name of his football franchise. The franchise name is a slur that has historically been used to justify genocide of First Nations peoples. Native Americans and allies have been mounting pressure to end the use of this mascotry, to change the name of the team. The term has been identified as hurtful and its continued use as cruel and demeaning, yet Snyder and the NFL have continued to not just stand for it, but to justify it and to insist that Native Americans are happy with the term. The research is in, and Snyder and Gooddell are lying. For a run-down on the matter, you can read this report put together by the Oneida Nation. You can also check out the #NotYourMacot hashtag on Twitter. You can check out Ending Offensive Native American Mascotry here. You can also read this article on the origin of the R*dsk*n name.

Several US senators got the message* and yesterday wrote a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Gooddell asking the NFL to cease using the R*dsk*ns name. Last summer Gooddell said the name is “a unifying force for strength, courage, pride and respect” so you already know he’s full of bullshit. The letter, signed by fifty Senate Democrats, focuses on tribal sovereignty and their right to their own identity. Snyder and Gooddell want to lay claim to what specific words are supposed to mean to the targets of them. So this is a good place to center the conversation, because it reminds the profit-driven NFL that they do not own Native Americans nor their destinies (now if only someone can remind the Senate of that…).

And the NFL’s response?

The NFL has long demonstrated a commitment to progressive leadership on issues of diversity and inclusion, both on and off the field. The intent of the team’s name has always been to present a strong, positive and respectful image. The name is not used by the team or the NFL in any other context, though we respect those that view it differently.

Can you smell the bullshit? “We respect those that view it differently.” There is no respect, and you know it. Until you end this obvious sign of genocidal racism, you can go to hell.

The second area where the NFL can go to hell is in how they hid information which could have prevented permanent brain damage in football players – not just their own, either. The league worked – for twenty years -to suppress reports about brain trauma caused by continued concussions. When they suppress this information, they hurt their players – but they also hurt semi-pro players, college players, high school players, and even Pop Warner players. Let’s throw the cards on the table: The NFL is the face of American football and they have a responsibility to all football players to not just show the glory and the work of the sport, but to be honest about the risks. Little kids are getting serious brain injuries because the NFL and Gooddell sat on information and tried to restrain others – such as ESPN – from speaking about it. For that, you can go to hell, NFL.

Finally, at a time when families are being kicked off food stamps and we’re all suffering, this league run by billionaires gets to claim tax exemption. Even though they take home bajillions (official count, I believe) billions in merchandise, TV licenses, sponsorships, ticket sales, and local welfare (like when taxpayers pick up part of the tab for new stadiums), somehow they get to claim that only individual teams are subject to federal taxes. Officially, the National Football League is a trade non profit, which means that they are supposed to represent their trade – pro football. But they don’t represent pro football. There are other professional leagues out there, like the Arena Football League, and the NFL is not interested in promoting them. Nevertheless, they get a tax break worth millions upon millions every year.

Hell, the NFL can go to hell. I suggest we promote some of these other pro leagues.


*Note, for whatever reason, the petition wasn’t passed around the Republican side of the aisle, which is too bad. As noted in my article on Indian mascotry, John McCain himself has spoken against the use of the R-word.


When he’s not riding both his city’s public transit system and evil mayor, Jasdye teaches at a community college and writes about the intersection of equality and faith - with an occasional focus on Chicago - at the Left Cheek blog and on the Left Cheek: the Blog Facebook page. Check out more from Jasdye in his archives as well!


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