Damar Hamlin Collapse Proves Again NFL Doesn’t Give a Damn About Black Players

At this point, to unapologetically support the National Football League is to be woefully complicit in the harm it has caused its players.

Monday evening’s traumatic moment—when Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field during a game between Buffalo and the Cincinnati Bengals—led to the 24-year-old athlete needing CPR and eventually being taken out the stadium in an ambulance. Hamlin is currently in critical condition in a Cincinnati hospital.

It was devastating. America watched as a stadium of thousands of fans went silent, with players seen on camera crying and Hamlin’s entire team kneeling in prayer. One would have thought the game would have immediately been cut short. After such a drastic shift in energy and spirit, surely the game would be called without a doubt.

It would take an hour after Hamlin was first administered CPR for the NFL to officially postpone the game after first attempting to suspend it. Yes, after all of the chaos, the league thought it was practical to have the traumatized players continue to play. Even more concerning, there’s already reported speculation that the NFL didn’t even lead the charge in canceling the game. The shaken coaches, captain, and players from both teams apparently called it quits.

It would be one thing if Monday’s incident was a rare drop of the ball from the NFL. Instead, it’s another reminder of how incompetent this multibillion-dollar institution has been to its players, who are mostly Black.

According to a recent report in The New York Times, the NFL is still falling short in his handling of players’ potential concussions and the severity of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a degenerative brain disease that a neuropathologist once shockingly found in 110 of the 111 brains examined of NFL players. Even after several years of reporting, the league continues to lack updated tools to help track such injuries and still depends on players mostly to report them on their own.

And now what had once felt like a debatable point seems to be a fact: The NFL blackballed former player Colin Kaepernick after he decided to take a knee in protest of police injustice.

“No teams wanted to sign a player—even one as talented as Kaepernick—whom they saw as controversial, and, therefore, bad for business,” confessed former NFL exec Joe Lockhart in a 2020 op-ed for CNN.

That situation was when I stopped being a fan of the NFL. For a powerful institution to instantly railroad the career of a Black person for practicing their free speech—especially for an act that was in defense of their community’s call for justice—showed me how the NFL truly felt about diversity when it wasn’t profitable to it. For all of the performative “Inspire Change” collaborations and social justice bullshit it has since launched, none of it has been able to cover the damage it has perpetuated.

Even off the field, the NFL doesn’t appear to care about the morality, accountability, and responsibility of its players. According to a May 2022 peer-reviewed study published in the academic journal Violence Against Women, players who are arrested for domestic abuse are often given a slap on the wrist. After reviewing all 117 NFL players arrested for an act of violence against women between 2000 and 2019, the report found “that the effect of an arrest on player careers is negligible, though it has become slightly more detrimental over time.”

Again, it’s hard to stand by and act like all of this is normal. It shouldn’t be ignored that a league whose teams are predominantly owned by old white men are tolerating the mismanagement, negligence, and mistreatment of its predominantly young Black male players. Hamlin deserved better. Just like Kaepernick did—and every other player who has represented the league.

But change starts with us. And after Monday night, there should be no going back to NFL business as usual. Enough is enough.

This content was originally published here.

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