Antonio Brown, former receiver for Tampa Bay Buccaneers, recently made headlines in the news for abruptly exiting a game. According to ESPN, Brown felt he was unable to play due to broken bone fragments in his ankle. On social media, Brown stated the Buccaneers forced him to play in a game while he was injured and did not want to make his injury worse.
“Coach was telling me that if I didn’t play hurt, then I was done with the Bucs,” Brown said in an article released by The Athletic.
While Brown’s actions are questionable, he is not completely at fault for them.
“Because of my commitment to the game, I relented to pressure directly from my coach to play injured,” Brown stated in The Athletic article. “Despite the pain, I suited up, the staff injected me with what I now know was a powerful and sometimes dangerous painkiller that the NFLPA has warned against using, and I gave it my all for the team.”
After Brown’s statement, there seemed to be a change of mindset regarding whether or not Brown was the angry Black man people painted him to be.
Brown’s experience is not a one-of-a-kind experience in the NFL, especially when it comes to Black players.
In 2017, Colin Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers before they were able to follow through with their plans of releasing him. Kaepernick was also viewed as an angry Black man for peacefully protesting against the U.S. government’s treatment of Black and brown people.
In his Netflix series, “Colin in Black and White,” Kaepernick said 70% of the NFL players are Black. However, none of the team owners and only a few coaches are Black.
Kaepernick also said in the series there is a certain white-male prototype the industry has cultivated since its inception.
Black men do not fit this so-called prototype, but the NFL takes no issue in allowing them to make money for large corporations. In turn, Black men have to let some of their political and social beliefs go in order to continue representing the industry.
The overall issue within the NFL is the players are expected to conform to certain ideas and beliefs and can be punished for going against them. While the NFL is a business, it should not feel like captivity. Black men and women have endured captivity long enough.
“First they cut me, now they cage me,” Brown stated in an article released by the NFL. “They threw me out like an animal, and I refused to wear their brand on my body, so I took my jersey off.”