The NFL's Fumble Against Antisemitism and Racism

The NFL Fumble image is a closeup of a football on a bright orange background. Written on the football in faded, scary font, is the word HATE.

The NFL is fumbling when it comes to tackling hate. The league is cozying up with social media platform “X” (formerly Twitter). Since Elon Musk’s purchase, “X” has become a breeding ground for hate speech, especially racism and antisemitism. 

While most major brands have already stopped advertising on “X,” many are now even ceasing any form of posting there, altogether. At the time of publication, Disney, Paramount, Lionsgate, Sony Pictures, Universal, and Warner Bros Discovery have not posted on the platform since Musk reposted and endorsed antisemitic content, approximately 12 days ago. Most of those brands have switched over to the Meta-owned rival platform, “Threads”, where there is greater emphasis on fighting antisemitism, hate, and disinformation. 

While those major brands display leadership and commitment to their values, the NFL chooses instead to show a failure of conviction. NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said, “We’re aware of instances of hate speech on X and have expressed our concerns directly to X both in the past and again in the last few days,”. So, to be clear, that statement tells us they’ve been aware of the rising hate and antisemitic speech, seen it escalate, and continue to take no real action on it.

The NFL’s commitment to “X” is a betrayal of their espoused values.

A screenshot of Elon Musk's endorsement of antisemitic texts on the platform "X". The original text was from The Artist Formerly Known as Eric. I'm not reposting it here, but Musk commented below it saying, You have said the actual truth.
Elon Musk's Endorsement of an Antisemitic Statement

The Playbook of Prejudice - "X" and the NFL

The NFL’s continued support of “X” is more than just a questionable call – it’s a playbook of prejudice. Under Musk’s reign, “X” isn’t just dropping the ball on hate speech – it’s practically handing it over to the opposing team. The platform’s become a hotbed for racism and antisemitism. Yet, the NFL still snaps selfies and tweets with “X” like an overzealous Cowboys fan.

Here’s the real kicker: The NFL’s audience and player base are as diverse as it gets, including folks who are directly impacted by the kind of hate brewing on “X.” By sticking with “X,” the NFL doesn’t just ignore its diverse community; it alienates them.

The NFL could lead the charge and set an example of what it means to stand up for what’s right. Instead, they’re sitting on the sidelines, watching as “X” plays a dangerous game with society’s moral compass.

From Kaepernick to "X" - A Tale of Two Stances

Remember Colin Kaepernick? When he took a knee to protest police brutality, it was more than a moment – it was a movement. But the NFL’s response? A cold shoulder at best, more likely, black listing. That is, until 4 years later, when the NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, apologizes, promises more support against racism, and encourages peaceful protests. Fast forward to today, and the league is playing a similar game with “X”. 

Here’s the irony – the NFL, which prides itself on being a unifying force, seems to have lost its compass. Kaepernick’s peaceful protest was about bringing attention to real issues: racial injustice and police brutality. It was supposed to be uncomfortable. That is what protests do to call attention. It was a chance for the NFL to step up, to show that it stands for more than just touchdowns and ticket sales. But they dropped the ball. 

The Kaepernick saga was a missed opportunity for the NFL to show true leadership in social justice. Their ongoing romance with “X” is also sending mixed signals about their commitment to fighting hate. They’re trying to play both sides, but in this game of moral standing, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

The NFL needs to decide what it really stands for. Is it just about the game, or is it about the values the game represents? Because right now, it looks like they’re playing a losing game when it comes to standing up for what’s right.

Jewish Players and Owners Want Action

While the NFL’s game plan on tackling hate speech seems muddled, their players and owners want action. Jewish players and owners do not simply watch from the sidelines; they make plays against antisemitism.

Take the incident with Philadelphia Eagles’ DeSean Jackson in July 2020. He posted a message on Instagram spouting antisemitic conspiracy theories​​. The response from Jewish players was not mere words and stickers – they took action. For example, Julian Edelman, the Jewish wide receiver from the New England Patriots, invited Jackson to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Edelman’s approach was about education and action: “Antisemitism is rooted in ignorance and fear,” he said, emphasizing the need for better education against misinformation. Jackson has since apologized, expressed great remorse, and shown support for the Jewish community.

Another example of action against antisemitism by the NFL community is Robert Kraft. Earlier this year, Kraft launched a $25 million “Stand Up to Jewish Hate” campaign. Kraft explained that while Jews in America are a small percentage of the overall population, they are the targets of a disproportionate amount of hate crimes. That’s the sort of action owners, players, and fans need. Yet the organization continues to endorse the use of “X”.

By continuing to use “X”, the league isn’t just failing to tackle the issue of hate speech; it’s also minimizing the concerns of its Jewish members. 

Robert Kraft (Left) and Julian Edelman (Right) in front of a bright blue background.
Robert Kraft (Left) & Julian Edelman have both taken action against antisemitism.

The Final Whistle

Actions speak louder than words. The NFL’s ongoing engagement with social media platform “X”, in the face of its owner Elon Musk’s promotion of antisemitism and enablement of hate speech, undermines the NFL’s claim to oppose all forms of hate.

The contrast couldn’t be starker. On one side, we have players and owners actively taking a stand against antisemitism, transforming their words into tangible actions. Their commitment to education, awareness, and action sets a benchmark that the NFL should aspire to meet.

On the other side is the NFL’s corporate decision to maintain a relationship with “X”. This decision speaks volumes about the league’s priorities and its true stance on social justice issues. The inaction in the face of rising hate speech on “X” contradicts the league’s public image as a champion of diversity and inclusion.

The NFL has the power and the platform to be a leader in social justice, to set an example for other organizations and millions of fans worldwide. Yet, by continuing its association with “X”, the league seems to be playing for the other team.

In the battle against hate, you can’t play for both teams. The NFL must decide which team it’s really on. It’s time for the league to not just talk the talk, but walk the walk.

Sources for this post include:
Scroll to Top
We Value Your Privacy

This site uses cookies to enhance your experience. We do not share, sell, or lease your information for any other purpose.