As Super Bowl weekend kicks off, one USA Today sportswriter doesn't want anyone to miss that the game's star attraction — Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 43-year-old quarterback Tom Brady — exudes the "height of white privilege."
What are the details?
In her op-ed for the paper, Nancy Armour explains that her big problem with the six-time Super Bowl champ is his past support for former President Donald Trump — and his "ability" to not talk about it when he doesn't want to. Or something.
Armour pointed out Brady's "Make America Great Again hat in his locker, the flippant endorsement of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. Only when those ties became inconvenient did Brady decide he wanted to 'stick to sports,' and that he preferred to be a beacon of positivity rather than delve into society's thorny ills."
"How mighty white of him," she added.
More from Armour's op-ed:
Brady's ability to enter and exit the debate at his choosing, to shield himself from accountability, is the height of white privilege. As this country grapples with the far reaches of systemic racism, look no further than Brady, for whom the expectations, and allowances granted, will always be different.
"Whiteness is the benefit of the doubt," said David Leonard, author of "Playing While White: Privilege and Power on and off the Field." "When Tom Brady says, 'I was just given the hat,' or 'He's just a friend of mine,' or when he skips the White House and says, 'I had a different engagement,' he gets the benefit of the doubt. He gets to be an individual. He reaps the benefits that we as white Americans reap each and every day in different contexts."
It's been five years since a MAGA hat had prime placement in Brady's locker and he replied "I hope so, that would be great" when asked if his old golfing buddy had what it took to be president. But with Brady playing in his 10th Super Bowl on Sunday, when his Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face the Kansas City Chiefs, the topic was raised anew by Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe, who said last week that no Black athlete would have gotten the pass Brady has.
On "Undisputed," Sharpe said Brady "put that hat in there for a reason: Letting you know that 'I support my friend Donald Trump, and no matter what he says, I support him.' ... Let's just say for the sake of argument that LeBron James says, 'My friend, Minister [Louis] Farrakhan.' How would America react? You see, blacks have always had to be very, very quiet about who our friends are. They made [former] President [Barack] Obama disavow Rev. [Jeremiah] Wright! ... LeBron James can never say, a prominent black athlete can never say, 'Minister Farrakhan is just my friend.' They'd try to cancel anybody with the just mere mention of Mister Farrakhan's name — because we like Tom Brady."
How would America react? https://t.co/35uJlmQn4G— shannon sharpe (@shannon sharpe)1611756961.0
Armour concurred, saying "Sharpe is right."
More from her op-ed:
In theory, it should not matter whether Brady supports Trump, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or someone somewhere in between on the political spectrum. He has a right to his private views.
But it was Brady himself who chose to make those private views public. If you think that MAGA hat just happened to wind up in his locker – at camera level, not buried at the bottom beneath a pile of cleats and clothes – I have a case of TB12 supplements to sell you. Brady has carefully cultivated his image over his 21-year career, whether it be his style or his social media posts, and he knew just what kind of reaction he would get.
Now, he might not have thought it would matter, since Trump's candidacy at that point was still seen as something of a stunt. But Brady has had the chance – several, in fact – to clarify or walk back his comments and has chosen not to. At the Super Bowl in 2017, three days after Trump's Muslim ban took effect. On Howard Stern's show last spring, when Trump was already beginning to sow lies about the election.
And yet again this week, less than a month after a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol that was incited by Trump.
Instead, Brady has been allowed to divorce himself from it while Black athletes are made to own their views in perpetuity.
Armour then went on to bemoan former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick's "blackballing" following his kneeling in protest of police brutality and racial inequality. Although she failed to mention Kaepernick's subsequent deal with Nike — infused with social justice themes — which Money said could be worth "millions of dollars per year." Or his $1 million book deal. Or that fact that Brady "liked" Kaepernick's controversial Nike ad that led others to burn their tennis shoes and boycott the brand.
But anyway, Armour went on to say that "even Brady's aversion to talking about politics or current events is itself a form of privilege" and accused him of "moral cowardice."
"Playing While White" author Leonard offered a parting shot: "The follow-up question of, 'I'm here just to play football,' is 'Well, who's afforded that luxury? Who's allowed to see sports as this apolitical space of distraction, of pleasure, of fun?' Seeing sports and living sports as an uncontested space is the privilege of whiteness. It's the privilege of being a man. It's the privilege of being a heterosexual athlete.That is a luxury that Black athletes and other marginalized and disempowered athletes have never been afforded, inside and outside of sports."
What was the reaction?
After Armour tweeted out her op-ed, she appeared to receive her share of kudos — but a number of folks were none too pleased with her take on Brady:
- "You lose me and all credibility when 'white privilege' and 'systemic racism' are mentioned," one commenter wrote. "If black players choose to make it about politics, that's their choice and the privilege of working for the NFL. I couldn't protest at my place of work. I'd be warned and then fired."
- "Nobody is required to participate in your BS game of identity politics," another user said. "SJW's are not the arbiters of good in a free society. Brady's actions as a father, an athlete, and a leader put him in a place most of the people who bow down to this idiocy can never dream to attain."
- "Another idiot savant heard from! Do us all a favor and STFUP! You are a joke," another commenter declared. "Brady never entered the political 'debate,' saying a guy you played golf with a friend is not entering the debate!! And I despise Trumpers!"
And finally, this:
Image source: Twitter