What: The backlash to an “inspirational” ad that aired during the Super Bowl.
Who: The NFL, Twitter users.
Why we care: “Football is a microcosm of America,” a narrator informs viewers at the top of a slickly produced NFL ad about equality.
Of course, this line is accidentally a bit more truthful than its creators intended.
In addition to the suggestion that the sport represents multiculturalism, football is also a microcosm of America in that it was similarly hostile to Black Lives Matter before that movement achieved something of a critical mass.
Long before Nike decided to put Colin Kaepernick in a 2018 ad, the quarterback’s ongoing silent protest of police brutality against Black people got him removed from the NFL. Only with time did his signature kneeling became a broadly popular protest gesture among football players and George Floyd protesters alike.
Considering how quickly history validated the former 49er’s bravery and integrity, it seems shameful that the NFL has never made amends with Kaepernick in any official capacity. The organization could have announced that it is “committing $250 million to help end systemic racism,” as it does in its Super Bowl ad, by dedicating the money to Kap.
Instead, the “Inspire Change” ad leaves the activist out entirely, as though he weren’t the first person most people think of when they think of antiracism in an NFL context.
This glaring absence did not go unnoticed.
In that Inspire Change commercial, the NFL forgot to show the part where they blackballed Colin Kaepernick, have only 3 black NFL head coaches and no majority black ownership.
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) February 8, 2021
NFL: "Inspire Change"
— Big Girl Slay ???? (@Biggirlslay) February 8, 2021
But still won’t hire kap ???? https://t.co/KamCZ1mswc
— Hugh Jass (@iseelifeinhd) February 8, 2021
Hollow words as long as no apology is given to Kaepernick for how he was treated. https://t.co/tkTRK5YrqU
— Chris Moore (@MooreSaiyan) February 8, 2021
— Barry Malone (@malonebarry) February 8, 2021
If the NFL’s treatment of Kaepernick thus far makes it too difficult to acknowledge him in its minute-long ad against systemic racism, that omission reveals more about the league than an ad ever could.
The solution isn’t no more ads about antiracism; it’s cleaning up the NFL’s own home field before airing them.