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Whitlock: The NFL’s diversity, inclusion, and equity Super Bowl will be remembered as the ‘Roger Goodell Bridge’ to chaos and racial division

Op-ed
Steph Chambers/Getty Images

In the pop culture war raging across America, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will be remembered as the modern-day Ambrose Burnside.

Union Major General Burnside is widely regarded as the most inept soldier of America’s Civil War. His behavior and tactics during the Battle of Antietam were so incompetent that a bridge at the battlefield – Burnside Bridge – was named in his honor.

Yesterday’s Super Bowl LVI was Goodell’s Antietam. Rebel forces bullied Goodell into turning television’s largest platform and sports’ greatest meritocracy into a showcase for the Left’s tokenism and quota system that is cleverly branded as diversity, inclusion, and equity.

The actual game was reduced to a prop, a stage to promote the Left’s vision of equality, a utopia where a handful of powerful elites select winners and losers based on skin color, sexuality, and gender.

The diversity, inclusion, and equity coronation was kicked off by President Joe Biden’s pregame interview. The president blasted the league for not hiring more black head coaches.

“They haven’t lived up to what they committed to and lived up to being open about hiring minorities to run teams,” Biden told NBC News anchor Lester Holt. “The whole idea that a league that is made up of so many athletes of color as well as so diverse, that there’s not enough African American qualified coaches to manage these NFL teams, it just seems to me that it’s a standard that they’d want to live up to. It’s not a requirement of law, but it’s a requirement that I think of just some generic decency.”

Biden got the ball rolling. Goodell and NBC took it from there. Approximately 30 minutes before kickoff, singers Mary Mary performed the so-called black national anthem in the parking lot of SoFi Stadium. Minutes later, tennis legend and LGBT icon Billie Jean King entered the on-field festivities. She narrated a video about Title IX and inclusion. She then did the pregame coin toss. Before Sunday, I was unaware of any connection between King and football.

Greeting King for the coin toss was the game’s lead referee, Ron Torbert, the third black referee to oversee a Super Bowl. After the coin toss, a mixed-race singer, Jhene Aiko, performed America the Beautiful. Aiko was followed by black female country music singer Mickey Guyton, whose claim to fame is a George Floyd-inspired song. Aiko and Guyton are not household names. No one is going to compare them to Whitney Houston. We were then introduced to NBC’s two female sideline reporters, the great Michele Tafoya and Kathryn Tappen.

So far, by my estimation, Tafoya is the only person I feel confident was there based on merit. Everyone else feels like an agenda.

The Pepsi Halftime Show put the exclamation point on the diversity, inclusion, and equity agenda.

Let me be clear. I enjoyed the halftime show. I grew up listening to rappers Dr. Dre, Snoop, Eminem, and 50 Cent and soul singer Mary J Blige. But gangsta rappers are not appropriate for Super Bowl halftime. Gangsta rap is lyrical pornography. It’s to be ingested in the privacy of your headphones.

Dr. Dre is Hugh Hefner. Snoop is Johnny “The Wadd” Holmes. Eminem is Ron “The Hedgehog” Jeremy. 50 Cent? Well, he’s 250 Cent now.

I get that rap music is the best-selling, most popular form of music. It’s dumbed down. If you can talk, you can perform it. Popularity does not signify greatness. In this era, it signifies perversion. Porn is the most popular form of movie-making. Nothing is downloaded more on the internet. That doesn’t mean pornography should be placed on our largest platforms.

Dre and Snoop hosted a gangsta party, a celebration of gang culture on the Super Bowl stage. It was billed as the mainstreaming of black culture. Do white people claim Hefner, Holmes, and Jeremy as beacons of white culture?

Super Bowl LVI is what Roger Goodell’s leadership has wrought.

Off the field, the NFL is adhering to a script dictated by the diversity, inclusion, and equity gods. The league is adding female coaches to every staff. It is pushing out established referees to make room for women and black men. Soon, it will adopt new measures to further pressure ownership to hire black head coaches.

General Goodell keeps saying diversity, inclusion, and equity are the league’s highest priorities. It’s a deadly script that will erode the integrity of the game.

The erosion is happening on the field. Seven straight NFL playoff games were decided by three points or less or in overtime. NBC called it the “Super Seven.”

Football fans are growing more and more concerned with the suspect officiating that made it all happen. “Rigged” is the adjective of choice over “super.”

The Bengals led by four points late in Sunday’s Super Bowl. The Rams drove 71 yards and then stalled at the Cincinnati 8-yard line. On third down, Los Angeles quarterback Matt Stafford threw incomplete to Cooper Kupp. The refs bailed out the Rams by ignoring a false start penalty on three L.A. linemen and calling Cincy linebacker Logan Wilson for defensive holding.

The non-call and call changed the ending of the game. The Rams now had first and goal at the Cincinnati 4. The refs put Los Angeles in position to win the game. The Rams took advantage.

When you embrace a script off the field, eventually you have to embrace a script on the field. When you bite the poisonous fruit, the whole garden is corrupted.

Under General Goodell’s leadership, the NFL has rejected the values that made it the strongest force in popular culture. Football is now in the business of manipulating and controlling outcomes off the field. A handful of powerful elites ignore merit and decide who officiates, who tosses the coin, who sings, and who reports on the games. It sounds harmless and inconsequential.

It’s the “Goodell Bridge” to chaos and racial division. Merit has been replaced by agenda. Suspect officiating and close scores will not mask the decline in competition and performance forever.
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