On the opening night of the NFL season, joy and celebration feel criminal.
The past six months locked in our homes, denied the casual intimacy of smiles, handshakes and hugs, and trapped in a viral-video race war have stolen the emotion of joy and the act of celebration.
COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter canceled Sports Christmas, the first night of NFL football, an evening traditionally filled with joy and celebration for sports fans.
Tonight, my Kansas City Chiefs launch a defense of the Super Bowl title they won in early February. Seven months ago, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes rallied his team from a fourth-quarter deficit and delivered Kansas City its first NFL championship in 50 years. In the process, Mahomes established himself as the best football player in the world. Not long after, Chiefs owner Clark Hunt rewarded Mahomes the richest contract in NFL history.
Tonight, there’s much to celebrate inside Arrowhead Stadium and throughout Kansas City and Chiefs Kingdom. Can we?
Houston — the home of the Texans, KC’s opponent tonight — has much to celebrate, too. The Texans have a young quarterback, Deshaun Watson, with nearly as much promise and talent as Mahomes. A week ago, Watson agreed to a $160-million contract extension, which made him the second-highest-paid player to Mahomes.
A season ago, the Texans beat the Bills in the wildcard round and lost the next week to the Chiefs in the divisional round of the playoffs. With Watson leading the offense and J.J. Watt leading the defense, Houston has every reason to believe they can unseat the Chiefs as champs.
There’s much to celebrate in Houston tonight.
There’s much to celebrate across the NFL. Football is back. It survived Corona fear mongering and formulated a plan to continue and deliver on its promise of a meritocracy-based system that rewards all men based on the content of their performance.
Mahomes and Watson, black quarterbacks, are the two highest-paid players in football. Russell Wilson is number 3. The NFL is a shining example of the kind of racial progress that can only be achieved here in America.
We should be joyful tonight. We should celebrate the achievements of football. We should honor and celebrate James Harris, Joe Gilliam, Vince Evans, Rodney Peete, Randall Cunningham, Warren Moon, Steve McNair, Donovan McNabb and all the quarterbacks who paved the path for Mahomes, Watson and Wilson.
We should say their names and express joy for the road we’ve traveled, the hurdles we cleared and the limitless possibilities in front of us.
Instead, we’re going to honor Jacob Blake, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Rayshard Brooks and many other alleged victims of police brutality. We’re going to make victims of poor decision-making heroes and martyrs. We’re going to reflect on death, despair and desperation.
This is satanic. Sports Christmas has been turned into a satanic ritual focused on the tragic life-endings of a handful criminal suspects.
We’ve criminalized joy and celebration and glorified anger, misery and racial division.
The primary lesson of sport has always been about the power of the man or woman in the mirror, the power of exemplifying the change you want to see. Football exemplified America at its best. Now football, like the rest of sports and like Hollywood, is pivoting to wagging a finger and scolding the people the media classify as intellectually impure.
Rather than demonstrate behavior free of bigotry, the NFL will exemplify bigotry and racial divisiveness through words. The league will play two national anthems tonight. Racial justice slogans will adorn both end zones. Law enforcement will be demonized while players honor Jacob Blake, a man accused of sexual assault.
I don’t have a problem with the TV show Law & Order. I just don’t want to see it during a football game. I like joy and celebration with my football games. I’m not going to get it in maximum dosage tonight. I’m pissed.
The whole country is overdosing on anger and misery.
On Labor Day, I scrolled through my Twitter feed and someone I follow retweeted a professor, Greg Carr, the chair of Afro-American studies at Howard University. Carr tweeted:
“On Labor Day remember theft of generations of African labor that enabled the settler state called USA. Nothing to celebrate. Just historical fact. First nations were ravaged. Our labor absorbed as captives. The afterlife of those crimes still rot the American state from within.”
What can we celebrate? Not football. Not Labor Day. Everything is an excuse to suck in more bitterness, anger and misery. We must focus on death, abuse and wickedness.
It’s all satanic. It’s the mainstreaming of evil.
There’s much to celebrate tonight. Too bad our current culture doesn’t allow it.
If you want Jason Whitlock for your TV or radio show or podcast, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.