NAACP urges NFL to cancel contract with Fox Sports; cries ‘bigotry’ and ‘racism’

The NAACP has sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell urging the league to cancel a lucrative contract with Fox, alleging that the network’s news programming is filled with “racism,” “lies,” and “bigotry.”

Specifically, the civil rights organization said that contracting with Fox Sports for NFL games will help fund Fox News, which the NAACP called a “uniquely destructive force” that “foments racism, undermines public health recovery from the pandemic, and repeatedly attacks the legitimacy of last year’s Presidential election.”

“As our nation continues to perfect its promise of democracy, the NAACP applauds the NFL’s indications of support for social justice,” the letter to Goodell from NAACP chief Derrick Johnson began.

“Affirmative statements from League leadership, sizable contributions to benefit marginalized communities, and even stadium signage denouncing bigotry are all helpful gestures toward addressing harsh and disproportionate realities suffered by too many in our society,” Johnson continued.

“Unfortunately, not all public influencers are willing to dedicate resources to achieving social equity. Notably, Fox News continues to inflame racial division and propagate an unstable political climate,” Johnson added.

The letter from Johnson obtained by USA Today also stated that “the NFL’s programming should not be used as a bargaining tool for Rupert Murdoch to help fund Fox News’ hatred, bigotry, lies and racism.”

He went on to cite the dominance of black players in the NFL as another reason to cut ties with Fox.

“The NFL, a league where nearly 70 percent of the players are Black, should not be complicit in helping to increase the profits of Fox News, a leading voice in condemning those same players for peaceful demonstrations against systemic racism,” he wrote.

“We are all familiar with the depths of manipulation and polarizing tone Fox News is willing to espouse. It remains to be seen whether the NFL will act to safeguard its players and fans from further exploitation, by prohibiting the media conglomerate from unduly capitalizing on the largesse of its corporate affiliations, and utilizing the enrichment to destabilize our democracy,” Johnson went on.

In a statement to USA Today, Johnson said he was also bothered by the fact that the NFL will continue its business relationship with Fox despite the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol Building, though he wasn’t clear why the network should be held responsible for it.

“It is immensely perturbing that the NFL would consider extending its relationship with Fox, especially after the January 6th insurrection on our Capitol. The NFL should not be used as a bargaining tool to help fund Fox News’ racist and dangerous programming,” he told the paper.

“Fox News has gone far and beyond to disinform its viewers, inciting hate, bigotry, and ultimately threatening American democracy,” he added. “We have grave concerns with the NFL’s contract renewal with Fox, and we look forward to having a serious conversation.”

By contrast, rival outlets CBS and NBC, both of which are also contracting with the NFL, broadcast reports during the Trump administration that turned out to be false or defamatory without a similar push from the NAACP for the league to cut ties with them.

Nevertheless, the league appears poised to move ahead with contracts worth about $110 billion spread out over 11 years with Fox, CBS, NBC, and ESPN. 

USA Today cited the Sports Business Journal which reported that the league has agreed to the outline of a contract with ESPN worth about $2.6 billion per year. Another report claimed that the NFL was seeking $2.25 billion per annum from Fox, which began broadcasting games in 1994 after signing a deal with the league worth $1.58 billion.

Also, the Amazon Prime Video streaming service will be retaining the exclusive rights to Thursday Night Football, CNBC reported.

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Jon Dougherty

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