Recently I read an article about an NFL player who wore attire that was not approved. This is a common offense in the NFL, so this would not be so surprising if it didn't come with a message. Andrew Hawkins, Cleveland Browns wide receiver, wore a shirt with "Justice for Tamir Rice and John Crawford" on it. This was an athlete, taking a very public stand, on a very controversial subject. And in the eyes of society, he was wrong. I read comments about how he should just stick to playing football and stay away from the social issues. This reminded me of another instance where a few St. Louis Rams players came out onto the field with their hands up in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement, and the infamous "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" slogan. Once again, these players were ripped to shreds in the media because as the public perceived it, they were stepping over boundaries, and straying from "football".
Then, let's turn to the political side of things. When Tom Brady made a public statement about being friends with Donald Trump, the world went into an uproar because once again, an athlete had stepped out of line and spoke on something unrelated to football. Everyday, different situations pour in, and everyday people criticize NFL players for having opinions, and voicing them publicly.
"As a role model to young boys and men everywhere, it is their duty to showcase what it is to be a positive figure in society."
Over time, NFL players have become dehumanized, and viewed as a machine by which people receive entertainment, rather than the fathers, husbands, sons, and brothers that they are. These men feel pain, joy, anger, and sadness just like anyone else. The unfortunate difference for them, is that they have a very high profiled, and publicized job. This makes them role models to many, even when they may not have set out to be so.
You would think with the title of "role model" bestowed upon them, the public would appreciate their opinions. As a role model to young boys and men everywhere, it is their duty to showcase what it is to be a positive figure in society. When these men speak up and take a stand, they are teaching important life lessons such as how to fight social injustices, and how much of an influence they can have on the political direction of this nation if they rallied behind someone they believe in.
Just on the surface, it teaches young people ways to voice their opinions, but in a non violent, civil way, and it shows them successful men who may have come from the same background as them but have attained success. Young boys and men all over are learning how to positively affect change, by simply speaking up at the right times. Unfortunately, this influence goes overlooked.
Many WAGS (wives and girlfriends of athletes) have had to sit and comfort their significant other because he was persecuted in the media for having an opinion. I know WAGS who feel as if their men have lost their willingness to speak up, because of the fear of being labeled "wrong".
Just because these men have chosen a career in football, doesn't mean they are not educated on other topics. Remember, the majority of these men have received an education from some of the best universities in the country. So as we Media Day for the Super Bowl, do not gawk at the non football related comments players make, but consider that on their off time, they may actually discuss politics, social issues, or their love for salsa dancing.