Football

The NFL Needed Its Biggest Star in the Black Lives Matter Video: Enter Patrick Mahomes

The headline may be a bit of a hyperbole, but as The Undefeated’s Jason Reid tells the story of how the NFL and Patrick Mahomes came together for this video.

The video itself is powerful, but It never occurred to me that Patrick Mahomes was the person that all of the player in the NFL, it was the 24-year old Super Bowl winner and former league MVP, who would state, “We the National Football League believe, black lives matter.”

Goodell and the owners are acutely aware of the power that accompanies Mahomes’ crown.

“Getting Mahomes to participate [in the video] was so big,” a white NFL club official texted The Undefeated on Friday.

It wasn’t just that Mahomes was part of the group. He played a key role, looking into the camera and declaring for the first time in the video, “Black Lives Matter.”

Whoa.

At that moment, Goodell and the owners were backed into a corner. As hard as they have worked to avoid even the mere mention of race, often awkwardly, let alone the whole Black Lives Matter movement over the past four years, seeing their best player saying those words required an immediate shift in strategy.

The NFL’s biggest star said the biggest words this video and if there was any question about who that was before the video, well, you now have your answer.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. You can disagree all you want with this movement. But it’s coming. It’s already here. The players, from the NFL to the college ranks, are now ready to accept that if you want to watch the game that you love, then you will have to accept protest during the national anthem and if the national anthem is no longer played, you’ll have to accept some form of protest during the game. This is from Kaevon Merriweather, an Iowa football player. Their head coach, Kirk Ferentz, who is under fire for various things, has said that whatever the team does during national anthem, they have to do it together. Well, my guess is that this is probably going to happen.

This was not the only tweet from the Iowa football program. There were an avalanche of similar thoughts from the entire Iowa football team. Again, if your solution is to just get rid of the national anthem so you don’t have to be offended, well, then, you’re going to be offended by something the players will do.

The fact that Patrick Mahomes, who is one of us, is leading the charge makes me ridiculously proud. I realize that I’m biased because of my two African boys, but it is one thing for me to gush over Mahomes’ ability to throw the ball 60 yards off of his back foot and into a headwind, but it is another to show them how he said those words and for them to feel a sense of pride (I’m proud too) because it is someone that they identify with on a personal level.

Of my two sons Youssouf is a naturally gifted athlete and some adults have already mentioned about how he’d be a great running back one day (he would) and maybe even a linebacker or a whatever (FN 1). Every time that happens, we sit down, I tell him not to listen to anyone, he can be whoever and whatever he wants and his answer is that he wants to be Patrick Mahomes (i.e. a quarterback). Now, we’ve got other reasons to back that answer up.

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FN 1. Shout-out to my other son Fitsum, who doesn’t give one flip about sports, but he will either be an engineer, an author of kids books, or a professional Lego builder. And don’t forget about Summerween on June 20th!

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