A social justice writer for a sports website applauded former NFL stars as “true patriots” for politicizing a Hall of Fame ceremony at the expense of mass shooting victims.
The Shadow League‘s Carron Phillips wrote about how Champ Bailey and Ed Reed used the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony to highlight “how gun violence and racism are America’s biggest issues,” in a piece published on Sunday.
“Words and actions will always be more effective than the combination of ‘thoughts and prayers,” Phillips argued following the weekend’s tragic shootings in El Paso, Texas amd Dayton, Ohio, which left 29 dead and dozens injured.
Phillips touted Reed’s use of his Hall of Fame platform to denounce gun violence:
Reed took the field at the Hall of Fame game wearing a t-shirt with the faces of black victims that died from police brutality or gun violence. It’s impossible to ignore the images of Trayvon Martin, Alton Sterling, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Sean Bell, Eric Garner, and Freddie Gray on the shirt of one of the most beloved and respected football players of all time.
Reed, 40, sported his statement-making shirt on the field at the Hall of Fame game.
— NFL (@NFL) August 2, 2019
Reed, who played 11 seasons for the Baltimore Ravens, spoke for more than 30 minutes, weighing in on the El Paso shooting at the Saturday ceremony.
“You know mental illness is one of the biggest problems in our world,” Reed said. “It really kills. So I’ve got to say prayers to the families that have experienced the mass shootings the last couple of days. Just in general across this country, it’s something we really need to address.”
“Stay encouraged. Encourage each other. Help somebody.”
— NFL (@NFL) August 4, 2019
“It’s impossible to ignore the images of Trayvon Martin, Alton Sterling, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Sean Bell, Eric Garner, and Freddie Gray on the shirt of one of the most beloved and respected football players of all time,” Phillips wrote in the Shadow League article.
Bailey used part of his Hall of Fame speech to direct a message to “white friends” about race relations.
— NFL (@NFL) August 4, 2019
“When we tell you about our fears, please listen. When we tell you we’re afraid for our kids, please listen. When we tell you there are many challenges we face because of the color of our skin, please listen. And please do not get caught up in how the message is delivered,” the former cornerback for the Washington Redskins and Denver Broncos told white people.
“Yes, most of us who are black athletes are black men first. Understand this, the things that make us great on the field — our size and our aggression — are the same things that can get us killed off the field,” he added.
“I believe if we start listening, there’s no telling the progress we can make. All of us are dads, sons, brothers, your friends. We all understand that if we can’t get our friends to listen, then no one will,” Bailey continued. “And to my black brothers, if you do not have anything positive to say about our social challenges, please keep your mouths shut.”
Phillips lauded the former NFL star and said the speeches reminded him of last year’s ceremony which was also politicized when Randy Moss “sported a tie during the ceremony that included the names of Rice, Martin, Garner, Gray, Bland, Sterling, Greg Gunn, Akai Gurley, Paul O’Neal, Walter Scott, Akiel Denkins, Michael Brown, and Brandon Glenn.”
He then quoted Moss, who said at the time:
“We all have kids. We’ve watched Spiderman before. Uncle Ben told Peter Parker, ‘With great powers, comes great responsibility.’ So, you asked me about my tie. We all know what’s going on. You see the names on my tie. Being able to use a big platform like this here at the Hall of Fame … What I wanted to be able to express with my tie is to let these families know that they’re not alone. I’m not here voicing; but by these names on my tie, at a big platform — it’s the Pro Football Hall of Fame — there’s a lot of stuff going on in our country. I just wanted to let these family members know that they’re not alone.”
“In the past week, at least 32 lives have been taken due to mass shootings in this country. And at the core of all those acts of terrorism was hatred and the inabilities of our government to institute safer guns laws,” Phillips lectured.
“This past weekend politicians in power were tweeting solemn messages while black football players were doing the work,” he said, declaring, “Never forget who the true patriots are.”
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