Brett Favre's bleating about politics in sports is rank with privilege, ignorance and hypocrisy

Shalise Manza Young
·Yahoo Sports Columnist
·5 min read
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One of the things about being in this position is that you have to do your best to be fair. Journalism shouldn't be a lack of objectivity, because that's impossible; every human approaches a story through their lens, colored by their experiences. It should be about fairness.

To wit: Writers love interview subjects who are fun, frank, even unpredictable. We want people to say what's on their mind because it makes for better stories. 

But as a human being, seeing Brett Favre still bleating the same privileged, narrow-minded, anti-Black rhetoric makes my blood boil. 

In theory, journalists or not, we're all supposed to be trying to do a better job listening to people with different opinions than us, so hushing someone should be verboten.

Racism isn't a difference of opinion, though, like whether or not pineapple should be on pizza (answer: yes). Repeating myths that have been disproven time and again isn't right or fair. Being a blatant hypocrite makes it worse.

So here we are.

On Sunday, Favre made comments on a radio show once again lamenting players who don't look like him using their right as free citizens to express their opinion and try to shine a light on the continued, often violent injustices faced by non-white, non-heterosexual, non-cisgendered people every day.

He called athletes kneeling during the anthem "a shame" and wondered why "standing patriotically" for a piece of fabric isn't the great unifier he believes it should be. He intimated once again that he doesn't want politics in sports, as if politics haven't been part of sports in this country for at least a century. (Thursday is the 74th anniversary of the day Jackie Robinson integrated Major League Baseball, one of the most famous sports-and-politics moments in America.)

Favre said, "When I turn on a game, I want to watch a game. I want to watch players play and teams win, lose, come from behind. I want to watch all the important parts of the game, not what's going on outside of the game." We should all patiently wait for Favre to produce video of an NFL player stopping a live game to discuss police brutality, the troubling racial disparities in maternal mortality, or the continued scourge of redlining and its impact on Black families.

Brett Favre doesn't like the presence of politics in sports, as if it's something that isn't decades-old. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Brett Favre doesn't like the presence of politics in sports, as if it's something that isn't decades-old. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Not a single one has. They've worn T-shirts during warmups and kneeled or raised fists during the pre-kickoff anthem. They've shared their perspectives after games or in the locker room on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, when the games were days away.

What Favre is saying is that he wants the politics he doesn't agree with, and the concerns of Black players and their community, to not have to enter his consciousness. Because he, as a white man, does not have to care about their concerns.

If you want proof that is how Favre feels, look no further than his Oct. 30, 2020 tweet, when he told the world he'd be voting for Donald Trump in the coming election, listing "freedom of speech" as one of the reasons why.

What's more political — and hypocritical — than that? 

What's more privileged than telling others to shut up to appease you?

Even the NFL, which isn't exactly a beacon of equity and anti-racist behavior, has come out in support of the notion that Black lives matter and gave players the green light to protest during the anthem through commissioner Roger Goodell's statement last summer and actions during the 2020 season. 

Yet Favre, a Hall of Fame athlete, continues, on any network that provides him the platform, to spew these views. If even the NFL has come around to the right side of history, might it be time to join them?

Favre came under fire a year ago when an audit of the Mississippi Department of Human Services revealed that Favre's company had received $1.1 million for "appearances" with the Mississippi Community Education Center, appearances he never made.

While Favre pledged to pay the money back, it's still never been clear what impoverished children in his native state would gain from getting to take a selfie with Favre. U.S. Census data shows 19.6% of Mississippi residents live in poverty, ranked near the very bottom in the country, and 31% of Black people in the state are below the poverty line. 

Perhaps, and this is a big perhaps, had Favre actually spent some time with these children and families, they would have shared their stories with him. Maybe he would have listened. Maybe he would have heard them share how hard it is to make ends meet when the state minimum wage has stayed at a paltry $7.25 an hour. Maybe he would have heard from a family that tried to buy a home and was denied, because even today Black Mississippians are denied mortgages at far higher rates than white home-buyers. 

Maybe he would have understood a small fraction of what it means to be Black, why nearly every political decision made here for 400 years, before this was even America, has been made with our degradation and marginalization in mind. Maybe he would understand why players kneel. 

But if there's anything we've consistently seen from Favre — going back to his sending unsolicited pictures of his privates to a female New York Jets employee, not to mention having his own private locker room separate from teammates with multiple teams — he's never really been concerned about anything but himself.

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