Martellus Bennett lights up Drew Brees, illuminates depth of NFL’s racism

Martellus Bennett (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
Martellus Bennett (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images) /

Former NFL tight end and children’s author Martellus Bennett had an important Twitter thread.

The NFL, like so many other sports leagues and major institutions in society, has a huge problem with racism. Conversations have been lacking at even a basic level, so much so that it’s easy for even well-meaning fans to miss how deeply embedded racism is within the NFL.

Martellus Bennett decided to take some valuable time out of his day to educate fans in a Twitter thread about the ways in which racism appears in the league.

The former Pro Bowl tight end, author and entrepreneur started the thread by laughing at how fans were surprised about Drew Brees’ comments. Brees ignorantly stated that protests against police murdering black people in the United States were “disrespecting the flag,” and his comments have led to many athletes, including New Orleans Saints teammates, taking him to task for his dreadful and dangerous comments.

Martellus Bennett’s thread goes beyond just Brees, though.

He rightfully points out the unfair criticisms and double-standards black quarterbacks face in a league where white quarterbacks, who are often the highest-paid players in the league, hold all the privilege.

And on the subject of privilege, Bennett noted how quiet these privileged white quarterbacks were when Colin Kaepernick was kneeling, sacrificing his career as a top-level starter to fight against social injustice.

Aaron Rodgers, for example, recently called out Brees in an Instagram post, but it’s fair to wonder, as Bennett stated, where all the well-paid white quarterbacks were when Kaepernick was kneeling during the anthem to raise awareness for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Finally, Bennett called out Vic Fangio, who laughably said that racism does not exist in the NFL, which is a statement so false that saying it with a straight face immediately destroys the man’s credibility. Fangio is a coach in a league where black coaches and executives are so rare that the NFL is even considering incentivizing hiring them by giving teams draft picks. And that’s only one fundamental example of racism in this league.

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The NFL has a lot of work to do, and there are so many conversations that must take place on social media, among fans, in locker rooms, in committee meetings and within organizations to deconstruct racism in the league. People need to thank Bennett for taking on the emotional labor of explaining a few ways in which the league is racist and take on the task of educating themselves, arming each other with knowledge to help create change with their voices.