Black athletes who have fought for civil rights have always taken a huge hit. In 1967, Muhammad Ali convened the famed "Ali Summit" in Cleveland, a gathering of black superstars who were opposed to the Vietnam War, including basketball's Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and football's Jim Brown. Ali's manager, Herbert Muhammad, begged Ali not to oppose the draft because the backlash would kill the boxer's earning potential. Sports officials had already threatened to revoke Ali's boxing license.
Such is the tradition of civil rights activism in sports. But Miami Herald sportswriter Armando Salguero apparently needs a refresher course on this history, because today he added yet another entry into America's proud tradition of attacking outspoken black athletes. Salguero used more column inches today to badmouth Colin Kaepernick, the free-agent NFL quarterback who is transparently being blackballed from the league for his outspoken Black Lives Matter advocacy.
This week, after Dolphins quarterback Ryan
The very suggestion apparently sent Salguero into a blind rage, which he channeled into a remarkably dumb column. This is a good time to note that a study released in April showed that being angry at football players for protesting the National Anthem was a strong indicator of racism.
The sports world is full of arm-chair quarterbacks, arm-chair coaches, even arm-chair general managers.
Some folks are no doubt advocating the Dolphins move forward immediately to putting Tannehill under the scalpel and signing free agent Colin Kaepernick.
So sign the captain of chaos?
The face of a movement that turned off tons of NFL fans last year?
The Fidel Castro sympathizer?
Only someone who is tone deaf or bankrupt of wisdom could think giving police officers, the military, Cuban-American exiles and other folks who respect the flag a raised middle finger is a great idea. I hope the Dolphins don’t believe that.
Let's tackle this one line-by-line:
"The face of a movement that turned off tons of NFL fans last year?"
There's very little hard data on how many people the protests "turned off." But if an athlete stands up, says "I would like police to stop shooting black people and getting away with it," and your response is anger at that athlete, maybe the problem is you.
"The Fidel Castro sympathizer? In Miami?"
Salguero has written repeatedly about how proud he is to live in a nation where people can criticize politicians — but now that Kaepernick is actually using that right, Salguero wants the quarterback to shut up. Moreover, Kaepernick wore a Castro shirt only once. It was a hypocritical move, sure, but Castroism isn't a central part of this dude's ethos.
"Only someone who is tone deaf or bankrupt of wisdom could think giving police officers, the military, Cuban-American exiles and other folks who respect the flag a raised middle finger is a great idea."
Listen, it's not hard to have a basic amount of empathy for people who say they've felt disrespected by "police officers and the military" their entire lives. Salguero is just choosing not to and instead demanding black people swear unflinching loyalty to a law enforcement community that many
This is far from Salguero's first column badmouthing black-rights advocacy in sports. Last September, he wrote a column about how the Dolphins players who joined Kaepernick's National Anthem protest should be ashamed.
"Christians don't take knees on Sunday in protest," Salguero tweeted. He later argued he was responding to then-running back Arian Foster's comparison to "kneeling in church," but the tweet certainly didn't come off that way, and it's still gross that "good Christians" apparently can't fight racism on Sundays in Salguero's mind.
But the public largely missed a 1,000-plus-word screed Salguero posted that same day — September 11, 2016 — delineating every unnecessary thought he's ever had about the 9/11 attacks, patriotism, and black people's interactions with police. Some excerpts:
Those murderers, you see, killed white Americans. black Americans. Asian Americans. Hispanic Americans. They killed Christian Americans. Jewish Americans. Muslim Americans, Hindu Americans. Those murders killed in the name of their god some Americans who believed there is no God.
We all felt loss. We all grieved.
And in the aftermath of that attack, in the wake of our shared grief, there was a palpable unity throughout this land. There was suddenly in this troubled and divided country something bigger and more important than ourselves that brought us all together for a short time.
Americans had been attacked. Killed. Murdered.
We didn't delineate. We didn't hyphenate. All of those victims were simply Americans to us.
And suddenly the fabric of a country woven by people from different lands, political parties, colors, ethnicities and religious bents seemed to pull tighter. America was strengthened.
Where has that gone? What happened to that America?
So 9/11 was apparently good somehow?
Today is Sept. 11, 2016. It is the anniversary of that fateful, memorable, sad, emotional day. And today the NFL will kick off another season.
And because the NFL is now so much a part of what America is, it suffers violent convulsions to its inner core much the same way the country does. In that regard, the NFL is very much like America. The NFL, our national sport, is uniquely American.
The NFL's most important employees — its players — are predominantly black. Yes, there are other races and peoples represented in the NFL ranks, but let us agree black men dominate the NFL on the field if not yet in the board rooms and owners' suites.
And because so many of the league's biggest stars come from a portion of our society that has unquestionably seen violence perpetrated on people that look like them, there is outrage in locker rooms across the NFL as there is outrage in black households across America.
That cannot be diminished. That cannot be dismissed. That is a troubling fact of life in today's America.
So something needs to happen for that needless killing of a people to stop.
I don't have the answer for stopping the killing of some black people at the hands of some police.
The President, who is black, also doesn't have the answer. The Federal Justice Department, headed by a black woman, has not brought one indictment on any officer, deeming every shooting it has so far investigated as lawful so that department also does not have an answer. The black district attorney in Baltimore who failed to get even one conviction of the officers that arrested Freddie Gray on the day he died while in custody obviously does not have the answer.
This is an argument divorced from reality. Salguero basically looks at endemic police violence and justice-system corruption and says ¯\_(?)_/¯.
In fact, there have long been ideas about how to stop police violence, and Black Lives Matter activists, politicians, Barack Obama, and even Kaepernick have spoken about those ideas extensively. They don't get implemented because police unions are extremely powerful entities and because people like Salguero get up in arms whenever anyone tries to fix things.
And, sorry to say it, but it is the truth, no NFL player wearing any uniform today has the answer for solving this obvious issue. And no NFL player is going to fix the problem today.
No matter what.
There is nothing any NFL player in or out of uniform today will be able to say or do that will address the issue of some rogue policeman shooting somebody to the point a solution for that problem is found. Can we agree on that?
No, you rube.
No amount of protesting today will fix the problem. No amount of speaking about the issue at press conferences afterward games today will fix the problem. No amount of symbolic gestures today will fix this problem.
And yet, somewhere around this league, it is likely that some NFL player will think it incumbent upon himself to make a gesture, or not stand for the national anthem, or make some other personal protest to bring awareness to the issue.
I have news for those who think that way: That will not bring any good awareness to your cause. None.
Any NFL player using today to protest by somehow disrespecting the flag, the country, his team or some of his fans will be doing the cause he holds dear a disservice.
I can tell you that the united post-Sept. 11 America of 2001 no longer exists. We are a divided country one again. We are divided on issues of race, politics, religion, abortion, sexuality, gender, you name it. And we are united on the idea that police are systematically targeting black people for elimination or, at the very least, different treatment than whites.
So was 9/11 good or bad? You'll have to help us out here, Armando.
But that's far from the extent of his singular focus on Kaepernick. Salguero has taken every opportunity to bash the quarterback on Twitter since Kaepernick began protesting last year:
And, the piéce de résistance, one of the least-self-aware tweets in internet history:
Look who all of a sudden hates people who lecture!
"The sports world is full of
That list includes you, Armando. Take your own advice and shut up.