The 2020 NFL season officially started Thursday, Sept. 10, and retired Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs called out fans who have a “shut up and run” mentality.
“There’s a segment of Americans who have an ability to compartmentalize their affinity for black athletes as a source of entertainment, yet remain apathetic & indifferent to their plight, & find them otherwise useless. If reading this offended you, you’re probably in that segment,” Briggs tweeted Thursday.
Briggs comments came after many fans booed while the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans locked arms before kickoff Thursday in solidarity against racism and police brutality. The Texans also decided to stay in their locker room during the national anthem.
Twitter users responded to his tweet with both apathy and support. Some mocked Briggs for casting himself as victimized, pointing to the wealth his NFL career afforded him. Others doubled down on telling him athletes should just be content and play ball.
“Yes. I am apathetic to your plight. I don’t have a luxury lifestyle or a 7 digit yearly income. That plight would be fine. I would embrace it. And be thankful I live in a country where you can have such a lifestyle,” one follower responded.
Another added, “lance……sport fans want to get away from life for awhile and just watch sports, nothing more, they don’t want politics and social issues displayed by athletes on the field. names on helmets and kneeling does absolutely nothing in real life to help people solve real problem.”
“Sports is a source of entertainment and it’s not only black athletes out there playing. Maybe, just maybe, the paying fans want to watch football and not be told how “apathetic and indifferent to their plight” they are,” another critic wrote.
Supporters countered that Briggs’ wealth and fame doesn’t exclude him from becoming a victim of racism and injustice or showing compassion for others who are.
“It allows you to understand that these very rich young black men fear for their lives like the black guy at your job, and their riches don’t shield them,” one fan wrote. “Hopefully you think about your black co-worker’s humanity. And arguing about ignoring it just sh-ts on a whole group of ppl.”
“He can’t. He won’t. He took the time to tell an athlete to play ball and shut up. People like him are lost causes. Never forget 9/11 but the rest of our everyday problems won’t get his attention,” said another about a critical comment.
“Ever consider they are speaking up and bringing attention to those that don’t have the luxury lifestyle?” another said.
“You’re no different than the concert goers of the 50’s & 60’s that enjoyed black entertainment, but could care less that those entertainers were unable to patronize the venues they performed at,” yet another replied.
Since the slayings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, many other black Americans at the hands of police sparked unprecedented backlash earlier this year, the NFL has apologized for how it responded to players’ peaceful protests in the past.
“We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People. We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the National Football League, believe Black Lives Matter … Without Black players there would be no National Football League,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a video posted to the league’s official Twitter account on June 5. He also said he regretted not heeding Colin Kaepernick’s warnings.
Despite the league’s publicly voiced support for its players, many NFL fans are still opposed to them doing anything unrelated to the sport on the field.
It’s a reality that makes Briggs and other NFL players like Texans defensive end J.J. Watt question the hearts of the people who are so upset.
“The booing was unfortunate during that moment — I don’t fully understand that, there was no flag in that, there was nothing involved in that other than two teams coming together to show unity,” Watt told Yahoo News.