When the news broke that Robert Griffin III had been drafted by the Washington Reds***s, I was elated. My good humor, however, had nothing to do with how many times he might lead his team to victory on the gridiron. He was a first class athlete, a media star and the second overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft. He signed a four year $21-million-dollar contract, $13 million of that guaranteed. He rolled into DC on a tidal wave of positive PR as the new face of this storied franchise. All of this, I knew, brought him serious clout; great power and respect on and off the field. I hoped he was ready to use it.
Like many African-Americans of my generation and before, I have never been a fan of the team. During my youth, it was well known as the last NFL team to integrate its roster. The owner, George Preston Marshall, famously stated, “We’ll start signing Negroes when the Harlem Globetrotters start signing whites.” The team was so resistant to having blacks on the field that in the end, it took the threat of eviction from D.C Stadium by the Secretary of the Interior, Stewart Udall, to force the much needed change. Mostly because of this history, I carried my dislike of the team into adulthood. Many of my football watching brethren have tried over the years to get me to move past this issue, pointing out the fact that the majority of the team was now made up of African-Americans. Point taken, but my concern was never about how many African-Americans were on the team. It was that racism has always been and still is a major part of this team’s identity. In fact, it was stitched into the very fabric of the burgundy and gold. It was in the logo. It was in the very name. Now, it’s in owner Daniel Snyder’s refusal to change that name. And black players, coaches and staff are, in my opinion, complicit in this legacy of bigotry. They are a part of the willful and malicious denial of the fact that they have been helping to build an organization and making themselves rich/wealthy while ignoring the damage being done to an entire race of people.
Click here for full post.