I missed my first Super Bowl…

I still remember Super Bowl XXIX the San Francisco 49ers(My favorite second team behind the Detroit Lions) VS the San Diego Chargers. My favorite QB of all time Steve Young was finally able to get the ghost of Joe Montana off his back by not only winning but setting a SuperBowl record with 6 throwing touchdown passes. My satisfaction was deeper than rap because it was the first time as a kid where I watched an entire NFL season, from that point came an increased love for the game and Superbowl parties that became a part of my growth into adulthood. Good food, drinks, and great company was the annual celebration I looked forward to despite my very own Detroit Lions failing year after year to make it past the first round playoffs. It would appear that nothing would distract me from the annual ritual of hilarious jokes and great dip until I decided to not watch this past 2017 NFL season; a choice that challenged my own character.

First off, I have to be honest when I say that my decision to not watch any games for the 2017 NFL season was not part of a boycott. I would never disrespect those who actually have put their heart and thought process into boycotting the NFL by comparing it to my journey. When early talks of boycotting the NFL began on social media in response to the negative backlash former San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick was receiving for taking a knee during the National Anthem my reaction was pretty much “How Sway?”The NFL is a billion dollar company that has made deals with TV and commercial endorsements for some almost a decade in advance so the chances of hurting them financially are next to never. Plus, I was on the fence on how genuine Kaepernick was about his decision and wasn’t sure if his actions were a strategic ploy or had gone through an honest metamorphosis in reaction to reports of unarmed black people being killed by police officers. I can never read a person’s mind but it would take more than a recently grown afro and a raised fist for me to rally behind someone. Also, his comments on the 2016 election when he stated that both candidates were Trying to debate who’s less racist…” or “you have to pick lesser of two evils, but in the end, it’s still evil.” didn’t sit well with me(or anybody else who thought that) considering the type of obvious evils that has and STILL brews from NOW “President” Donald Trump’s mouth. My thought process was from a logical standpoint because I can be down for any cause that resonates with me if there’s some sort of goal that we as a people are trying to achieve. Was the boycott itself purpose was to continue until Kaepernick(who despite popular belief was not fired from his team but yet turned down millions by opting out of his contract with the 49ers) gets another job in the NFL? To Kaepernick’s defense he never publically asked anyone to boycott pro-football but he also never said “not to” either. So although a number of folks choose to boycott because they #StandWithKap I would be a liar to completely state that my choice was the same.

To be honest my choice for not watching the NFL season came because of “time.” Yes, in time I witness the same NFL team owners who speak out against players with threats who may kneel during the National Anthem turn around and offer jobs to players who have beat up their girlfriends, used drugs, or break any other law that came across their radar. In time, I watched the NFL go out its way to employ white less than mediocre quarterbacks who couldn’t hit a target in Duck Hunt get signed to a team yet clearly blackball a greater talent that is Colin Kaepernick despite his actions with raising money for charity and stating that if signed he would no longer take a knee during the anthem. I’ve heard arguments from owners and former players alike ask ‘What does police shootings have to do with football?” and to them, I ask “Well, what does the league have to do with breast cancer?” In time, as the awareness of CTE grew and seeing how the NFL as an organization treated former players with growing health concerns like a pair of old gym socks, it made my interest decline. Unlike the NBA who although are not perfect always seem to be ahead of the curve where the NFL takes nearly a decade to bring back touchdown celebrations while ignoring rape allegations when it comes to its players. It was my “time” to withdraw from investing in an organization that consistently could give two fcuks about humanity.

I personally have never and still cannot cast any judgment on anyone who decided to not participate in the NFL boycott. As a long-suffering Detroit Lions fan, I’m not sure I would’ve had the urge to resist if my team hand a run like the Philadelphia Eagles who won their first Super Bowl against the New England “Everyone Hates Brady” Patriots. While the game was on I was hard pressed to avoid all social media outlets and groupchat text from my phone that may make me cave in, especially when the Sportscenter highlights made the game look like of the best Super Bowls ever!!! I choose to spend the earlier part of my day visiting art museums around a ghost town like DC and watched a marathon of black movies later that night(Rip Ricky Baker). In the end, there mixed feelings inside me where one part was the satisfaction that I successfully completed a goal and another with anxiety like thoughts of “Ok, so what next?” Do I  not watch football ever again? Do those who #StandWithKap still support although he filed a lawsuit against the NFL accusing the owners of collusion; an act according to experts of the league ends his pro-football career? For a brief moment I had no answers and my emotions were wild until after the game I watched an episode of This Is Us where Jack died being the greatest TV dad ever (next to Joe West) where I began to feel a calmness over me by realizing that most decisions take time to understand.

The decision to whether or not to watch the NFL is a personal one that should be respected by all, however; my choice was to take a stance for my values over my entertainment. The answers may not be clear in the present but if one is willing to learn then the knowledge will come. Activism is a growth that is sparked by small actions that light the fire for huge movements. I understand that for most who choose to sit out this past NFL season that they are living out their purpose and so am I. My future relationship with the NFL may be uncertain, however; the possibility of living a life without watching America’s game every Sunday is not.

J.Hall

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