Marshawn Lynch, Ryan Coogler and J. Cole sat down for a panel discussion at “MLK Now 2020” in Harlem’s Riverside Church on Monday.
The event, now in its fifth year, honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the three men talked about their respective careers, the issues affecting the Black community and a host of other topics.
At one point during the discussion, Lynch, who came out of retirement late in this past regular season to play running back for the Seattle Seahawks, talked about the NFL not having any Black owners.
The 33-year-old said it forces players to present themselves in a false way just to fit in and maintain job security, which he said could be daunting.
“It’s a tough situation,” said Lynch. “You got to think your whole life you’ve been playing football. For that moment to go ahead to play in the NFL and then when you get there all the executives, the owners they all white.”
“It gets to a point where in order to fit in you got to learn how to — I guess it’s called code switching or something — Where you got to not be yourself in order to fit in and I’ll say to stick around,” he added.
Many seemed hopeful about the NFL getting its first black owner in December 2017 when Sean “Diddy” Combs expressed interest in buying the Carolina Panthers when the team was about to be up for sale.
NBA star Steph Curry, who grew up in North Carolina, then said he wanted to join Combs to help purchase the team.
But in the end, it was sold to billionaire businessman David Tepper for a reported $2.3 billion.
In 2018, sports attorney Richard Roth spoke to CNN Money and had a theory on why there aren’t any black owners in the NFL and not many in professional sports period.
“Historically, the wealth in this country belongs to white males,” he stated.
“It’s the same reason most Fortune 500 companies, most law firms, etc. are owned by white males. I do believe you’ll see more [people of color] break that glass ceiling,” added Roth. “It just takes a little longer because of the size of the money.”
Lynch spoke more about the Black players in the NFL during the panel discussion and the challenges they face trying to assimilate into the league.
“Then when you get into code switching and then that don’t work out for you, and now you got to go back and find yourself, you chasing your own tail,” he stated.