Jason Witten, ESPN decry domestic violence, promote NFL's institutionalized racism instead
To paraphrase a line from a recent South Park episode, “Jason Witten, will you and the other neo-liberal types knock it off? Don’t you know every time you casually drop that racial slur into your discourse that you make the rest of us look stupid?”
This writer’s blood instantly rises to boiling several times a week when researching NFL games and/or cruising the newsfeeds. But since another prime time appearance by the team of high-profile racist/sexist Dan Snyder, I’m busting blood pressure monitors here over the repeated bigotry from professional talking heads who really should show more backbone.
The self-righteousness of Witten and Booger McFarland, among innumerable others all too willing to mindlessly get on the bandwagon of neolib dogma, decrying the potential signing of alleged (innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, right?) monster Reuben Foster.
After the initial outcry caused by the Washington football club’s announced intention to claim Foster after his release from the San Francisco 49ers, the club’s “brain” trust apparently decided it would be a good idea for VP Doug Williams to go, likesay, chat up a local sports talk radio station.
Said Williams in part, “Oh yeah, we knew [the backlash] was going to happen, and like I said, rightfully so with all the stuff that is going on in this country. We’ve got people who are in high, high, high, high places that have done far worse, and if you look at it realistically, they’re still up there. This is small potatoes [compared to] a lot of things out there...”
While mainstream media – not the “liberal media,” for very little real liberalism exists in the mainstream – certainly appreciated Williams’s shading of Donald Trump and everyday sexual harassers, such actions would not stand without harsh commentary that’s certain to influence real change.
With an air of composed indignance, Witten teed off on Washington when the subject of Foster was brought up in the third quarter, game well in hand and a sizable fraction of the audience already tuned out. The quote was later reported in headlines dripping with smugness like the Washington Post’s “Jason Witten says the Redskins ‘used horrendous judgment’ in claiming Reuben Foster” or blatantly (and utterly unjustifiably) triumphant without pretense to objectivity, like MSN News’ “Jason Witten crushes Redskins for claiming Reuben Foster.”
(Hmm, seems to us that, post-“crushing,” the franchise still exists…)
Proclaimed Witten: “I believe the Washington Redskins used horrendous judgment in claiming this guy. And I understand that it’s an ongoing investigation. But my family’s been affected by domestic violence. I understand the anguish that it causes. And you know, young players just have to understand that there is no tolerance for putting your hands on a woman. Period.”
Uh huh, I see. So if the speaker, given a public forum, has been personally affected by a social problem, then it’s legitimate to call out the overriding institution.
This must be why the noted former white TE has no problems parroting ad infinitum the racial slur that passes for a team name in American professional sports. As with nearly every white American, he was never personally affected the way a marginalized population taunted with a denigrating reminder of genocide is nearly every time they wish to enjoy an NFL game.
“The NFL takes a lot of criticism,” Witten later added between swigs of the league’s kool-aid, “but I do know that they’re working to educate, to provide around-the-clock services for these guys, to understand that you know what, whatever you’ve experienced in your life, you now have a chance to change that” and “I just think it sent the wrong message when the Redskins claimed Reuben Foster, and as I said, I understand that it’s ongoing, but this isn’t his first time with this happening.”
For a brief moment, McFarland seemed like he’d bring some sensitivity to the matter at hand. “We talk about domestic violence in the NFL like it’s an NFL problem. It’s not. It’s a societal problem, and if the NFL really wants to do away with it in their league, they’re going to have to figure out a way to make the punishment a lot tougher.”
Right, like other pressing societal problems: Racism, respect for one another and such, right, Booger?
He continued, “That way the Redskins –”
Then, as is so often the case with this morally rotten organization, more trouble followed. During the game, second-string quarterback Colt McCoy was knocked out for the remainder of the season with a broken leg. Enter Mark “The Butt Fumble” Sanchez to lose the game, followed by reporters who couldn’t wait to ask about their ostensible hero Colin Kaepernick.
NFLbets has no issues with Kaepernick whatsoever: After all, this is a guy whose stated moral/ethical stances have had actual real-life consequences that, like a true hero, he bore.
Unfortunately, Kaep has become a symbol of the bravery the neolibs media-side would love to show but simply cannot under the pretense of objectivity.
And by “objectivity” here, NFLbets means “the acceptable party line dictated by the corporation issuing the paychacks.”
Some intrepid news types were quick to ask coach Jay Gruden on Monday about the possibility of Kaepernick coming to play for Washington. Gruden gave out the old jockspeak classic about the team going in a different direction (downward, apparently), but later revelations told that higherups had stifled any notions of extending an offer to Kaepernick for political reasons.
Every sports action leads to reaction. ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” was just one of the 18 or so hours’ worth of daily babblefests to address the issue. Tony Kornheiser, who once suggested that the Washington NFL team could keep the name if they changed their logo to a bowl of potato chips, concluded the segment devoted to the Kaep and the Washington mess with “If Colin Kaepernick stands for social justice, can he go to a team that signed Reuben Foster, can he go to a team named ‘the Redskins?’”
Well, geez, Tony, Jason, Booger and the rest of y’all, aren’t you for social justice? Aren’t you just as much against racism as you are against domestic violence? Words are your stock in trade: Don’t you think they mean something? Don’t you feel dirty every time you say the R-word? And if not, why not? Is it possible that you’re as much a victim of the NFL’s institutionalized racism as every other non-Native American? Most importantly, how can you demand that the NFL take social responsibility seriously when you positively reinforce the most obvious symbol of racial inequality in all of American sports, if not the entire popular culture?
No, wait: Let me guess. It’s likely that employees of ESPN, which is owned by Disney and beholden to the NFL by dint of a billion-dollar contract to produce Monday Night Football, are likely to be obliged, under unwritten agreement at least, to put as much positive spin on the NFL as possible. Naturally, ESPN personalities can speak out when the league ham-handles another case of violent physical abuse perpetuated by an NFL player, because that’s bad. But accepting that Washington team name as just another mascot that causes no harm to anyone is correct.
Proof of this came in 2015. As Disney looked to turn the so-called Worldwide Leader into another money-printing machine, layoffs came. The on-website or on-camera personalities that were jettisoned that year were, suspiciously, among those most critical of the NFL: Bill Simmons, Colin Cowherd, Keith Olbermann (again) and Gregg Easterbrook, among others. Whether on the league’s blind eye to domestic abuse problems or the covering up of concussion-related issues, such dissent on matters for which the NFL might actually have to produce results to answer accountability is not to be tolerated.
But if you think it’s impossible not to slur Native American folks while still talking about the NFL, catch a few episodes of “Around the Horn.” Without broadcasting the fact, host Tony Reali does show after show in which Snyder et al’s latest follies are discussed regularly and yet *never mentions the racist team name.* Don’t believe us? See for yourself.
In any case, NFLbets has had it up to the frontal lobes with those claiming to care about “issues which affect us all” and proclaiming the “positive effects sports can have on society” while ignoring the incredible insensitivity of the institutionalized racism they celebrate. Against racial inequality and social injustice on all levels? Prove it, big talkers.