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 not to watch this past 2017 NFL season, a choice that challenged my 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 have put their hearts and thought processes 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 almost a decade in advance, so the chances of financially hurting them are next to never. Plus, I was on the fence on how genuine Kaepernick was about his decision and was not sure if his actions were a strategic ploy or had gone through an honest metamorphosis in reaction to reports of unarmed black people killed by police officers. I can never read minds, 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 is less racist, did not sit well with me. My thought process was from a logical standpoint because I can be down for any cause that resonates with me if there is some 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 defense, he never publically asked anyone to boycott pro-football, but he also never said not to either. So although several folks choose to boycott because they #StandWithKap, I would be a liar to state that my choice was the same ultimately.
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 could not hit a target in Duck Hunt get signed to a team. It was becoming challenging to witness Colin Kaepernick, a more exceptional athletic talent, become blackball despite stating that given the opportunity to play again, he would no longer take a knee during the anthem. I have heard arguments from owners, and former players alike ask, What do 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 increasing 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 f***s about humanity.
I 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 am not sure I would have 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 group chat 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). Overall, there are mixed feelings inside me where one part was the satisfaction that I 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 feelings until after the game. I watched an episode of This Is Us where Jack died the greatest TV dad ever (next to Uncle Phil) where I began to feel calmness as I’ve realized that most decisions take time to understand.
The decision to watch the NFL is a personal one that should be respected by everyone. However, my choice was to take a stance for my values over my entertainment. The answers may not be apparent 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 massive movements. I understand that for those who decide to sit out this past NFL season are living out a shared purpose. 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.