You wrote a letter yesterday to team executives within the National Football League suggesting that the  “current dispute was threatening to erode the unifying power of our game and was now dividing us and our players from many fans across the country.”  You went on to say that “we believe everyone should stand for the National Anthem.”  You do not identify who “we” are. Is it you and Trump?

Interestingly enough not once in your letter do you refer to the person who started this controversy by calling the Black players “sons of bitches.” President Trump is wholly missing from your disingenuous plea for unity.

The reality of your letter is that it is yet another attempt to silence Black players. You already deprived Colin Kaepernick of his livelihood. The poor performance by many quarterbacks this season has clearly proven that he is without a position purely due to his politics and not his skill set. Now, you are looking to once again put Black people in their place because it makes white people uncomfortable, especially the white racist in chief.

And while I cannot speak for the Black players or people, I can and will speak as a white person who understands her privilege and as a mother of two Black daughters and as the wife to a Black man. You aren’t going to get away with it. Many of us who watch football and who care about the rights of Black people are damn tired of white people thinking that their feelings are more important than the lives of Black people. We are disgusted by their attempt to co-opt patriotism as if they are the only Americans who love this nation. I am white and a proud American.

My heart soars when I see these Black men take a knee. It reminds me that we live in a great nation where we have the right to protest, where we have the right to stand up or kneel down, to demand that even in silence our voices be heard.

They are disrupting nothing. They are not shouting. They are honoring this nation. And here is the key finding in all of this. The anger and vitriol as exhibited by these “(white) fans,” continues unabated even if taking a knee happens prior to the playing of the anthem. In other words, they don’t like Black people doing anything other than their bidding.

There is nothing about this protest that suggests that it is against our military or disrespects our nation. In fact, our Constitution and our Supreme Court has upheld the right to take a knee.

Mr. Goodell, you are looking to take what had been a unifying moment as players stood arm and arm with owners into a victory for a racist-in-chief.  It is a huge miscalculation.

While you may be getting an earful from your fellow conservative,  white-privileged,  mega-millionaires, your are underestimating the courage of the players and of the fans.

What is so telling about your letter is that you fail to address the President’s role and words. I know you wrote a letter when he made his original comments. It wasn’t enough then and certainly to rely on your previous weak response now is a joke. What is also telling is that you keep referring to Black players as  “players.”

Have I missed all the white players kneeling?

You cannot put the genie back in the bottle no matter how you might like to try. Black players, Black people and their allies are not going to be silenced by a white man in charge who counts on them to play or pay to exist. We are done with that. You and yours, white fans who don’t give a shit about Black people, whose misguided patriotism discounts the lives of Black people and other marginalized people in this nation, won when Trump was elected. But we are not giving up and we will not let you tell us that we are the dividers. We are not.

You refer to “unprecedented dialog” and “work in communities.” All of that is “safe” and makes you feel good. It fits the parameters of how you like athletes to behave. No controversy.  It makes white people all squishy inside when guys go to hospitals to visit sick children or work with kids in the inner city.  Addressing police brutality and the indiscriminate killing of unarmed Black people… not so much.

It is not pretty now. For many it never was. But welcome to their world. Stop trying to make reality fit into your white version. Trump created your nightmare, not the players. Write him a letter. If you can’t, I am available for hire.

-Jan Harrison




  1. This is an exemplary response to Goodell’s comments. As a middle-aged white woman and lifelong (40+years) Dallas Cowboys fan, watching players utilize their “right” to protest (peacefully) affords me pride, as I support these athletes and USA Citizens.
    Jane’s assessment is spot-on…next step should be providing people a tangible, acceptable platform (since legal, non-disruptive protests upset the white powers-that-be) so plans and processes can be discussed regarding the rampant, continued abuse of POC.

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