NBA superstar LeBron James knows why white NFL team owners are taking a hard stance on allowing players the freedom to express themselves politically– they are holding onto a “slave mentality” and feel they own their players, many of whom are African-American.
“In the NFL they just got a bunch of old, white men owning teams and they got that slave mentality,” James said on Friday’s episode of The Shop on HBO. “And it’s like, ‘This is my team. You do what the f— I tell y’all to do, or we get rid of y’all.’”
The NFL should really follow the NBA’s lead on taking a more democratic stance toward player political participation. The Los Angeles Lakers star and four-time NBA MVP praised NBA Commissioner Adam Silver for supporting professional basketball players in their right to back candidates, for their political outreach efforts and for allowing their voices to be heard.
“I’m so appreciative, in our league, our commissioner,” James said, according to The Hill. “It doesn’t even matter if Adam agrees with what we are saying, he at least wants to hear us out. As long as we are doing it in a very educational, non-violent way, then he’s absolutely OK with it.”
James offered his take on the difference between the NBA and the NFL. He said NFL owners show a lack of interest in a player’s contributions off the field.
“The difference between the NBA and the NFL: the NBA [cares about] what we believe [a player] can be, the potential. In the NFL, it’s what can you do for me this Sunday or this Monday or this Thursday. And if you ain’t it, we moving on,” James said, according to The Hill.
For the past several years, the NFL has been mired in controversy stemming from how the league has handled former San Francisco quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, and his and other players’ protests against racism, social injustice and police brutality. The protests have largely occurred during the playing of the national anthem with players taking a knee.
Earlier this year, the NFL issued a conduct policy that included punishment for players choosing to take a knee. That policy was shelved in July amid public and player outcry, and since then a few players have protested this season, but not to the degree of those who protested over the past several seasons.