I need to preface this rant with the following statements:
- I am a lifelong Eagles fan who cried for hours after my beloved team won the Super Bowl.
- I am a basketball fan who was lucky enough to see Dr. J, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird play, back in the day.
- I once declared the Kardashians to be the worst thing that’s ever happened to America.
Yet, on this day, I believe Kim Kardashian just made the the current NFL champions and the NBA conference finals opponents look like a bunch of pussies.
Before my beloved Eagles took the field to battle the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII, Chris Long-- along with some of the other Eagles players-- made it quite clear they would not meet with President Trump if they were to win the coveted Vince Lombardi Trophy. Long--who the previous year had captured a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots--skipped the meeting with Trump in 2017 when Brady and company visited the White House, it was safe to assume, he would keep his word at the end of this most recent season.
When President Trump discovered the Philadelphia Eagles would send a contingent of less than a dozen to the annual Super Bowl Champions photo op, he rescinded his invitation. Critics claimed his move was political and there's no disputing that. But the Eagles decision not to attend was political as well.
In an NFL season that will be remembered for players taking a knee during the National Anthem, some of the Eagles thought they could damage and/or embarrass the president (and, yes, I’m convinced that was their motivation) because they don’t like him. Plus, Trump understandably ruffled a few Eagles' feathers when he criticized the players for that season-long protest.
They were confident, however, their protest would force the President to punt. Instead, he went for it on 4th and 2.
When Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James was asked about the controversy, he assumed the role of King James and unilaterally declared that none of the NBA players would meet with Trump, regardless of who ends up champ.
So, instead of meeting with President Trump to air their grievances or push for changes in the current US justice system (which is one of the things they were protesting), they decided to opt out.
Kim Kardashian-West, however, put on a pair of heels and marched into the Oval Office to face Trump head on.
Kardashian--who has made prison reform her latest passion--was requesting clemency for Alice Johnson, a 62-year-old grandmother who was serving a life sentence in a federal prison for a one-time, non-violent drug offense. Trump granted the clemency and Johnson is now a free woman.
From Kardashian’s Twitter feed:
"The phone call I just had with Alice will forever be one of my best memories. Telling her for the first time and hearing her screams while crying together is a moment I will never forget."
Kardashian used her notoriety to plead for this woman’s release. At a time when her husband, Kanye West, is public enemy number one among Trump deniers, she risked considerable clout to push her agenda. It could have blown up in her perfectly made-up face. But she didn’t care. And her efforts paid off.
My Eagles could have used their meeting with the President to discuss reforms in the justice system. They could have explained what the kneeling protests were about. Instead…they punted.
By many accounts, the kneeling protests were a complete failure. If how you’re protesting is getting more attention then what you are protesting, you need to find a different way to convey the message.
When LeBron James was thrust into this discussion, he could have used the moment to try to heal the country. He could have brought people together. He could have drawn attention to justice reform. Instead, he insulted Trump voters-- while drawing attention to his own lack of grammar skills-- by saying, “I don’t think a lot of people was educated” when it came to the election.
Neutral Zone Infraction
While all these athletes continue to preen for the press and accomplish nothing, there’s a former prisoner who is now free because of reality TV star.
As a sports fan, I have tried desperately over the years not to let politics affect my enjoyment of the game. I ignored all the NFL domestic violence scandals because I love football. (The cheerleaders should have taken a knee to protest football players who were knocking their wives around, but that would have led to a way too many oral sex jokes.)
I didn’t even get upset when players took a pre-game knee this past season-- even though I believe the National Anthem is one of the few times when Americans put aside their differences, take off their caps and sing as one.
But I’m not sure I will be able to watch football this year. (And I certainly can’t watch the rest of the NBA championships.) And that makes me sad. And the fact that the Eagles are responsible for this decision breaks my heart. There's so many different, better ways they could have handled this.
Many of the Eagles players are devout Christians. Why didn’t they ask for a prayer group with the president? Why didn’t the minority players ask for a meeting with the president, perhaps along with the other civil rights groups? Why didn’t they arrange a lunch with Trump and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss what could be done to make America great?
They had a perfect opportunity to turn a staged photo op into a moment of greatness. That’s what Kim Kardashian did. Why couldn’t they?
It appears more reporters were in the Eagles locker room today than at the reunion of Alice Johnson and her family. Perhaps that’s what’s wrong with America in 2018. We have all chosen our enemies and we are determined to keep them as enemies, even if working together could make life better for the people we claim to so desperately want to help.
Many people took the Eagles side in this debate, and I wanted to be one of them. But, I fear Fly, Eagles, Fly just became Bye, Eagles, Bye while the Cry, Eagles, Cry tears running down my face will forever be Eagles green.
Worse yet, I am forced to say nice things about a woman who's annoyed me since Keeping Up With the Kardashians first hit the airwaves.
But, that’s the upside-down world of 2018. Just when you think it can’t get any weirder-- or more stressful--it does.
Now, I have to find something else to do with my Sundays starting in September. Or I have to find a way to get over my anger and disappointment. Or maybe I’ll just put on a pair of heels and march into the Eagles’ front office and let them know how I feel. Hey, if it worked for Kim…