Why I’m Blacking Out Super Bowl LII: #NFLBlack0ut Till The End!
In the fall of 1971, when I was in the seventh grade, a wave of excitement arose in the Washington DC metro area because of the new head coach and winning ways of the Washington football team. Coach George Allen came in like a storm, led the team to the playoffs and, in his second year, to its first Super Bowl appearance. These victories came as a result of the efforts of “The Over The Hill Gang” as they played under Allen’s mantra, “The future is now!” That began my 45 years as a dedicated NFL football fan.
Unfortunately, that all came to a halt this season and I had to find other things to do with my Sunday afternoons and Monday nights. This change came as a result of the mistreatment and, in my estimation, public lynching of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He has been blackballed as a result of his protest, where he chose to kneel during the national anthem played before the games, in response to the deaths of unarmed African-Americans at the hands of law-enforcement and other systemic ills in our nation. Kaepernick dared to exercise his First Amendment rights and as a result it cost him, at least for this football season, the opportunity to apply his considerable skills and athletic abilities on behalf of some quarterback-needy franchise in the league.
In response to this collusion among NFL teams to ensure that Kaepernick was not employed, some of my ministerial colleagues in the state of Alabama launched the #NFLBlack0ut effort. Their campaign called upon the African-American community and other citizens of good conscience not to watch or attend any NFL games or wear any team’s paraphernalia until Kaepernick got a job. I am proud to say that I have maintained my commitment for the #NFLBlack0ut and have not watched a down of live football all season long. I did not watch the playoffs and I do not intend to watch the Super Bowl.
In fact, if the collusion against Kaepernick continues next year, the league will have lost a 45-year fan for life, and I hope that Kaepernick goes north of the border and exhibits his athletic gifts in the Canadian Football League. Honestly, it has gotten easier not watching the games as the weeks have come and gone. While I love the spectacle, I am no longer willing to support a league that will promote as some of its marquee players men who have abused women and committed other crimes, but will punish and blackball one of the better quarterbacks in the league because he dared to have and voice an opinion about the systemic mistreatment of many of the brown-skinned citizens in this country.
This will be the first Super Bowl I have missed since January 1972, but it would be the height of hypocrisy, in my mind, to have boycotted the entire season and then to watch the penultimate game of the year. And so I call on all people of good conscience who have participated in the #NFLBlack0ut during the course of the year to hold steady for this last game of the season and find something else to do next Sunday. Spend some time with your family and not in front of the TV. Go visit a sick friend or a senior citizen in a nursing home. You can participate in some community service project, go to the movies or just stay home and read a book, but do not augment the league’s ratings one iota until this travesty of justice, the blackballing of one of the most generous humanitarians and philanthropists to ever have donned an NFL uniform, has ended. Kaepernick has shown himself to be a citizen of the world and a man of great principle and conviction. He pledged to donate one million dollars to charities and community organizations and has done so, supporting youth initiatives, Meals On Wheels, the homeless and raised money for drought-stricken Somalia. I stand with him, and as a 20-year veteran of the United States military, kneel with him in opposition to the historic and current abuse of some of our fellow American citizens. #NFLBlack0ut till the end!
Written by Rev. Stephen A. Tillett, Author of Stop Falling for the Okeydoke: How the Lie of “Race” Continues to Undermine Our Country, recipient of the 2018 “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Peacemaker Award” and President of the Anne Arundel County Branch of the NAACP
Rev. Tillett is available for Media Interviews by contacting Publicist, Dr. Unnia Pettus, at 202.696.2790 or via email at upettus@connecting-the-dots-