2020 season is officially a go, but the NFL has major problems that are far from resolved.
The good news: The NFL and NFLPA agree to proceed with the 2020 season with heath/safety protocols apparently in place! The bad news: Pretty much everything else.
At least 59 players tested positive for COVID-19 as of July 21, which is the equivalent of one full NFL team and a few practice squad players. The NFL hopes it can avoid delaying, pausing, or even cancelling the 2020 season, but in the pandemic era, it’s easier said than done. Let’s hope the NBA and MLB can proceed without much of a hitch and set helpful precedents other sports leagues can utilize moving forward.
Washington Football Team owner Daniel Snyder couldn’t come up with a new name before opening night and is currently conducting an “independent investigation” of his own organization’s allegedly sexually harassing, toxic work environment. “Independent” being the flawed keyword.
Not to be outdone by the Washington Football Team’s chaos, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson is accused of making racist and sexist remarks per a CNN report. Johnson, who also serves as United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom under President Trump, is alleged to have:
- Questioned the point of Black History Month
- Argued Black fathers don’t remain with their families and that was the “real challenge”
- Openly expressed agitation with being around lots of Black people
- Dehumanized female colleagues with sexist remarks regarding their looks
- Made numerous sexist comments deemed “cringeworthy” per multiple sources
Johnson responded to the report via Twitter: “I have followed the ethical rules and requirements of my office at all times. These false claims of insensitive remarks about race and gender are totally inconsistent with my longstanding record and values.”
There’s also this photo of Johnson socializing with child sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell, who was infamously Jeffrey Epstein’s right-hand woman and is currently in custody:
Considering the Jets are a predominantly Black team in a predominantly Black sports league, I can’t see this controversy going away anytime soon.
Jets GM Joe Douglas (2019-present) has a great track record in the NFL as a Baltimore Ravens scout (2000-2014), Chicago Bears Director of College Scouting (2015), and Philadelphia Eagles VP of Player Personnel (2016-2019) with three Super Bowl rings to show for it. But with all those accolades and longevity came one constant: Teams with a winning culture. No NFL team is perfect, but the Ravens, Eagles, and even the Bears have been nearly-consistently decent to great teams over the last decade — while the Jets have perennially missed the playoffs since their 2010 AFC Championship Game appearance.
The Ravens, Eagles, and Bears don’t have owners who were outed for making allegedly racist and sexist comments. They also never hired Adam Gase as head coach with a career record of 30-34, who has provided no signs of hope whatsoever for Jets fans and players alike. Hell, a number of Gase’s former star players including Ryan Tannehill have flourished without him as their head coach.
The scary thing for the NFL is it’s entirely plausible Snyder and Johnson aren’t the only owners with major skeletons in their work environment’s closet — nor the last to be outed for transgressions. Former Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson was practically forced to sell the team after racism and sexual harassment allegations. Some believe there’s a chance the same fate could be in store for Snyder, even if he wasn’t directly implicated in allegations (although it’s his organization).
Time will tell, but this is a nightmare scenario for the NFL and one that could force every organization to look in the mirror and truly reevaluate how they do business. There’s no place in any industry for racism and sexism, especially in 2020.
The NFL needs to be proactive, not reactive with these issues, before the league gets caught with egg on its face — again.
You can check out my thoughts on the Jamal Adams trade here:
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