Recently, 256 college football players realized their dreams of being drafted into the NFL. Years of grinding their way through youth, high school, and college football has brought them to their moment. But for some people who are trying to be clever, they have taken this special moment and replaced it with their own agenda, whatever that may be.
A photo has been floating around various social media sites of illustrations of a slave auction, with Black men having their physical measurements taken, and put side-by-side with a photo of Black football players having their physical measurements taken at the NFL Combine (a week-long showcase where college football players perform physical and mental tests in front of NFL coaches, general managers, and scouts). This message is supposed to lead the viewer to believe that the NFL Draft is like a slave auction, and many people have bought into this logic.
There is no comparison between the NFL Draft and slavery, and it is disrespectful to the memories of the millions of Black people who had to live through the atrocities of that time.
These players are participating in this sport by choice, and they are being compensated in a way that most working people could only dream of. The fruits of their labor allow them to live a lavish lifestyle. They are celebrities. Their children are able to attend the best schools. They also have labor unions and rules that protect their rights. The list goes on about the advantages that these athletes have during their career compared to the typical working-class person.
Many would love to have the talents and abilities to play professional sports and cash in on multi-million-dollar contracts. We would be as proud as can be if our children, or anybody in our community, makes it to that level of sports excellence. How in the world is that close to being like slavery? That just makes no sense.
Another fact that people have missed is that White players also go through the same testing process at the NFL Combine. The NFL is not a 100 percent Black league. Who ever put the photo in question together selectively chose a photograph that did not include any White players.
All sports leagues have these type of tests. In ice hockey—the NHL is a predominantly White league—they also line up their players and take their physical measurements. That is just how sports works.
There is nothing racist about the NFL Draft. It is not a slave auction where rich owners line up to purchase the most physically gifted Black men. The draft simply makes the playing field among the teams even, and players become free agents after their initial contracts are over, giving them the power to stay with the team that drafted them, or take their talents else where.
Let’s stick to the real issues of racism, and stop creating racist story lines that do not exist.
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