Opinion: NFL’s Messy Diversity Game – Inside Sources

Does the NFL show too much respect to black players?

The answer depends, at least partially, on your party alignment.

Generally speaking, Republicans say yes. And, generally speaking, Democrats say no.

That’s according to a new Los Angeles Times/Survey Monkey poll, released during Super Bowl week.

Even the NFL can be polarizing these days.

The poll revealed some key trends when the subject is the Rooney Rule, which stipulates black candidates must be interviewed for coaching jobs and other top-level positions.

Republicans were more likely to oppose the Rooney Rule; Democrats were on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Some numbers: Nationwide overall, 22 percent of adults said they thought the NFL was doing too much to show respect to black players. But the stats slide along party lines.

—For Republicans, that figure increased to 45 percent; for Democrats, it was only 5 percent.

—Also, 57 percent of Democrats believed the NFL was not doing enough to show respect for black players; in relation, only 9 percent of Republicans felt that way.

For at least one fan, the poll resonates big time. Allison Layne, a 57-year-old white woman, is a staunch Kansas City Chiefs fan, and a stauncher Republican.

The resident of Claflin, Kan., provided uncommon candor as to why many Republicans harbor ill feelings toward the NFL, saying to InsideSources, “What sent Republicans going crazy against the NFL was when Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem (in 2016). He was as disgraceful as he could be. Now white people had to feel guilty that we were white and blacks were viewed as suppressed. We don’t want any athlete taking a knee during the national anthem. Then, some people were bashing every line of the song, which became offensive as some people pulled the ‘slavery card.’’

But Dr. Arthur Cyr, professor of political economy at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wis., says the Times poll is flawed, telling InsideSouces, ‘trying to politicize professional football along partisan political lines is misguided and unproductive. There is no discussion of possible intervening variables beyond party identification.”

Nevertheless, Layne sees some similarities in her views and what the poll reflects regarding Republican thought. “The NFL got ‘woke’ and slipped in the Black Lives Matter movement by putting BLM messages on helmets, logos on the field,” she said, “and playing the black national anthem. Talk about not bringing people together!”

On Feb. 1, the first day of Black History Month, fired Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores upped the uncomfortable tension level by suing the NFL for racial discrimination, citing bias in the hiring of black head coaches and other front-office types. Flores’ lawsuit rocked the league as he labeled the Rooney Rule a sham process.

His claim: Teams merely check off boxes to satisfy NFL procedures with no intention of ever hiring a black coach in the first place.

But it seems the NFL is ready to play hardball as it hired former U.S. attorney general Loretta Lynch from the Obama administration — a black woman — ostensibly with one mission: Destroy Brian Flores.

Many black folk on social media already are lambasting Lynch as a “traitor” who just committed a “Black-on-Black crime.”

Flores, incidentally, was named a senior defensive assistant/linebackers coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Feb. 19.

The NFL remains America’s most popular game, as witnessed by the just concluded Super Bowl, which attracted 112 million viewers to NBC and its COMCAST affiliations. Also, NFL games were 75 of the 100 most-watched TV programs in 2021, according to “Sports Business Journal.”

The league’s diversity soap opera grew more rancorous when NBC Sports’ top-notch NFL “Sunday Night Football” sideline reporter Michele Tafoya announced at season’s end that she was exiting the broadcasting world to enter politics . . . that is Republican politics.

As controversial national columnist Jason Whitlock wrote, “Michele Tafoya quit America’s No. 1 TV show to help a black man win the governor’s office in Minnesota. She’ll soon be castigated as racist, misguided, and stupid.

“That’s the state of this country’s corporate and social media-led racial discourse. The cost of choosing the wrong political team is your public reputation. Tafoya’s new boss, Kendall Qualls, is a Republican. And despite his black skin, black wife, and black children, Qualls is just another black face of white supremacy.”

Liberal columnists have relentlessly criticized Tafoya since her departure, saying she has shown her true colors in joining a Republican campaign and accusing her of denying systemic racism in the NFL and America.

Yes, it’s messy out there in the NFL’s diversity soap opera.

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