You don’t know me.
But I know you.
In fact, I used to love you.
Fall Sundays centered around the schedule of my cherished Philadelphia Eagles.
Who am I kidding?
It wasn’t just Fall Sundays that were dedicated to football. I spent hours through the off-season reading articles and watching videos about the Eagles, swallowing up every detail. By the time pre-season arrived, I’d be able to break down the battle for fourth string tight end.
Yeah, I was a fanatic. But it was worth it.
When the Eagles won Super Bowl LII, I swear I saw green rainbows in the sky. I stood squished along the parade route among hundreds of thousands of rabid fans to catch a glimpse of the champions.
I’m not sure I did, but I savored every moment.
Those were the days!
The Break-up with Football
You’ve begun the regular season with the Eagles ready to kick off on Sunday. Yet, I haven’t been paying attention and do not plan to watch on Sunday.
I’ll be sitting this season out and may even retire all together.
My break-up with you and the Eagles began with wide receiver DeSean Jackson’s Twitter post with the fake Adolf Hitler quotation (unbeknownst to Jackson) and praise for unabashed homophobe and anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan.
While Jackson claimed that he was not trying to hurt anyone, and his only goal was to uplift African Americans, the post hurt. A lot.
Then, there was your reaction to Jackson’s tweet – it was nearly mute.
And the Eagles organization, itself, wasn’t much louder. Over the course of a few days, the Eagles’ released two bland statements about their “outrage.”
No one from the organization spoke publicly about the incident. Not owner Jeff Lurie. Not general manager Howie Roseman. Not head coach Doug Pederson. Not starting quarterback Carson Wentz or any other Eagles player.
Across the entire league, just three current players – Julian Edelman and Mitchell Schwartz, both of whom are Jewish, and Zach Banner, an African American player for the Pittsburgh Steelers – condemned the post.
Contrast the reaction to Jackson’s post with the response to Drew Brees’ comments about players not standing for the flag, which was at worst tone deaf. It drew the ire of players across the league.
One of those players was Malcolm Jenkins.
Jenkins, a former member of the Eagles whom I cheered on and admired, told Brees to shut the F up. This man describes himself as an activist.
All he could muster about Jackson’s comments was, “They are a distraction from the bigger picture.”
Now, you’ve decided to play a song in addition to the national anthem, are allowing players to do whatever they decide is right while the Star-Spangled Banner is playing, and are permitting players to have phrases on their helmets.
Each of these actions is related to social justice.
The message you and the Eagles are sending is abundantly clear.
Racial equality is important.
Religious tolerance, not so much.
It’s Just a Game
Truth be told, I turn to you NFL because you’re a pleasant diversion from ‘real life.’ As much as I love debating coaching decisions, discussing who should be taken with the third-round draft pick, and watching an onside kick, football is just a game.
So, don’t offer reciprocity. Players shouldn’t have the option of adorning their helmets with a star of David or their jerseys with passages from the Old Testament. The field of play should be restricted to just that – play. Players can express their beliefs on their own time, but if they express hate toward any population group, the reaction should be swift and firm.
These days that’s not the case. So, I’m moving on.
It won’t be easy.
But just know that, in this case, it’s you and not me.
A Former Fan.