How long will NFL players avoid “distraction” of politics?

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For decades, NFL players have steered clear of political issues. And while there are signs that things are changing, change could come very, very slowly.

“[W]e are institutionalized sometimes,” Jets receiver Brandon Marshall explained last week in a visit to PFT Live. “We are. We’re told, “That’s not OK. You know, you can’t do that. It’s a distraction.’ And that’s a problem.”

The other problem, as Marshall sees it, comes from an apparent belief by the media that players should be willing at all times to share their private political beliefs, even if they don’t want to.

“Tom Brady got asked about his relationship with Donald Trump . . . and everyone gave him crap for it because he didn’t want to answer it,” Marshall said. “But what if I asked you right here on the show . . . ‘Hey, are you Democrat or Republican? Who did you vote for?’ That’s personal information. That’s like asking a woman her age, right? Like, you don’t go there. . . .

“But what did we do? We pressed Tom. We pressed Tom. We pressed Tom. They did the same thing with me like, ‘What are your views on Trump and who did you vote for?’ I’m not comfortable talking about that. Just because I talk about mental health and project375 and other things doesn’t mean that I have to give my opinion on something I may not be comfortable in or well-versed.”

That’s the other side of the coin that those who want athletes to express political views often overlook. Regardless of whether their teams or coaches encourage or discourage it, the athletes may simply not be interested in sharing their privately-held beliefs.

Still, those who would like to use their public platform for political purposes never should feel that they can’t, and as more players speak out without consequence (and there never should be a consequence), hopefully more will feel that they can, too.

However it plays out, it’s an issue that won’t be going away any time soon, especially with previously reticent players like Steph Curry and Russell Wilson choosing to speak out. And to the extent that any reticence to discuss personal views comes from an institutionalized aversion to “distraction,” maybe some players who currently prefer to keep their views to themselves will realize that they can speak without fear of reprisal.

74 responses to “How long will NFL players avoid “distraction” of politics?

  1. It’s their right to speak out, but it isn’t their right to be employed by the NFL. The NFL image was already negatively impacted by the kaepernick, just look at the TV ratings.

  2. wow has he matured. His insights are pretty good too. He’s going to take some analysts job when he retires.

  3. It potentially causes division among peers as well. The media wants them to speak out because it makes news. In reality, nobody cares what Brandon Marshall thinks about Trump. People want to see him catch footballs and score touchdowns or not if you are an opposing fan. That’s all. That’s why athletes of old were loved and adored because people didn’t really know how weird or crazy they were.

  4. A lot of football players might know more about politics than some of our politicians do, so I don’t mind hearing their opinion. Some people don’t like to hear celebrities talking about politics, so those people didn’t want to hear what Donald Trump had to say about politics last year. Well, fast forward a few months and he’s our new president. And if he didn’t win, another celebrity former first lady would have won. Would it shock anyone if Lady Gaga ran for president in four years? We better start paying more attention to our celebrities because they’re likely to be our next leaders.

  5. “Just because I talk about mental health and project375 and other things doesn’t mean that I have to give my opinion on something I may not be comfortable in or well-versed.”

    And yet some players (cough kaep cough) are quite comfortable talking about things they are not well versed in. Marshall may be a loose cannon at times but at least in this instance he seems to know enough to avoid discussing what he doesn’t know enough about

  6. And note to players – you aren’t going to lose fans or sponsorship by staying out of politics but will lose some by getting into it (either because they have different views or they themselves don’t like to see sport mixed with politics). So, as Gene Simmons said recently, shut your piehole and just play!

  7. I wrote this the first time you posted the Brandon Marshall interview and the haterz CAME OUT, but I don’t care, Ima say it again. I love me some Brandon Marshall! Haterz go hate.

  8. tonebones says:
    Feb 8, 2017 8:37 PM
    Would it shock anyone if Lady Gaga ran for president in four years?
    __________________

    Beyond all the other considerations it would be very shocking if someone who was ineligible to take office wasted their time, effort and money running for it. According to the constitution “… neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years…” Guess you will need to dampen that giddy anticipation for eight years

  9. The media pounds on this because they know they can easily find anti-Trumpers who can’t wait to lecture the rest of us about their politics, which aligns with said media.

  10. Kaepernick has an opinion, people get mad.

    Tom Brady doesn’t have an opinion, people get mad.

    No matter what, people are going to be mad. There’s just a lot of miserable people out there.

  11. The players are performers – not instructors or professors. They have a stage and a few use it to publish their own opinions. It is beyond time to make a clear demarcation between entertainment and politics. Doctors don’t take instruction from non-medical personnel – why do we? If some players don’t want to honor the line they need to find a real job.

  12. Translation: most players are democrats, so let’s get them to speak because their opinion is the same as the media’s and we (the media) need as many people bashing Trump as humanly possible.

  13. Do you notice that no players are aligning themselves with Elizabeth Warren? Wow I so hope she remains the face of the Democratic Party- they will never win again.

  14. jag1959 says:
    Feb 8, 2017 8:Beyond all the other considerations it would be very shocking if someone who was ineligible to take office wasted their time, effort and money running for it. According to the constitution “… neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years…” Guess you will need to dampen that giddy anticipation for eight years59 PM
    ************************
    That shows you how much I now, and I vote. Oh boy. One more thing. I thought you had to be born in America. Some celebrity a few years was saying Obama wasn’t born in America. Geez. Just shows what celebrities know. Maybe they should stay out of politics. We’re too smart to vote for any of those knuckleheads, right?

  15. He should have kept his mouth shut the night he, Darrent Williams, and their crew were out celebrating New Year’s back in 2007. If he had kept his mouth shut back then, DWill would probably still be alive today.

  16. NFL players should do what most of us do. Avoid politics at work. It’s probably even more important for them than the rest of us because nobody cares about our jobs or beliefs. They can participate in politics if they want to. Vote, make a donation to a campaign, quietly volunteer some time it’s all good. Just avoid the soapbox.

  17. I’m sick of politics. Only idiots judge people solely on who they voted for. Seriously it’s no one’s business but your own. That’s why there are curtains on the voting booths so no one can see who you’re voting for. The media and the sjws’ need for every celebrity and athlete to openly clarify their political views is absurd. They don’t owe you any explanation and you’re only going to twist their words against them so why should they even bother? They should only talk if they are truly passionate about the subject matter. Not because they feel obligated.

  18. so many actors and athletes are anti trump that it’s refreshing when some come out in defense of trump and say give him a chance let’s stop the sky is falling mentality and see what happens…it’s almost like they have a brain and can think for themselves

  19. moerawn says:
    Feb 8, 2017 8:59 PM
    The media pounds on this because they know they can easily find anti-Trumpers who can’t wait to lecture the rest of us about their politics, which aligns with said media.
    ————————————————-
    And that’s just it. Most of the media doesn’t like Trump.
    When Lebron said he was with Hillary the media was like, “That’s cool. Lebron is awesome!” 😃

    Brady puts a Make A G A hat in his locker and they want him to show his support so they can call him a racist.
    Trump took him golfing 15 years ago and they were friends.
    Trump called Robert Kraft every week for a year after his wife died to check up on him. So Mr Kraft, a life long democrat, supported his friend.
    This is the truth. The media tries to get them to say something headline worthy. If they do, they’ll put them on a skewer for everyone to take jabs at. Well, as long as their friend is on the right.
    Makes me sick. Left is right. Right is wrong. Brady is smarter than you all. Apparently Brandon Marshall is too. Good job BM.

  20. Again, most fans simply want players to play and talk about their jobs on the field, court, diamond, not to get their takes on Middle Eastern Policy, Islamic terrorism or social issues.

    Why is there this insistent need to explore the views of celebrities, professional athletes and the sports media intelligentsia thus trying to force their commitment and ultimately take sides on issues unrelated to their profession? Who cares about their personal belief systems and is it relevant to what the do professionally?

    Uh, I know why, it is simple, stir the pot, add to the voting base, keep the masses diverted and agitated all the time.

    Do we really want or need the uninformed and uneducated spouting off about issues and giving their unwanted opinions which adds to the divisive issues in the US and worldwide?

    Stop trying to interject sports into politics, please!

  21. We could make it the RFC versus the DFC and play the Super Bowl every four years for the Whitehouse.

  22. bgibson8708 says:
    Feb 8, 2017 8:23 PM
    It’s their right to speak out, but it isn’t their right to be employed by the NFL. The NFL image was already negatively impacted by the kaepernick, just look at the TV ratings.

    89 38
    Report comment
    ——
    This is patently false, NFL ratings were down due to the Presidential Election, had nothing to do with Kaepernick, who also protested in the 2nd half of the season post-election when ratings went right back up. This has been confirmed by multiple networks, nice try though.

  23. I don’t get why just because media outlets, particularly ESPN, have infused politics into sports coverage more than ever that has to be the new normal.

    This question”How long will NFL players avoid…” makes it seem like a bad thing, a negative to avoid being political.

    Why do football players have to be political? They have the right as public figures to speak their mind and use their platform to advance causes they care about, but they have the right to not be political as well. Why should it be a fault that a player doesn’t have a particular cause, or they don’t have a cause they care about enough to publicly advance? (maybe they privately support something financially, not wanting the attention) Maybe a player feels strongly about something, but they want to be active once they retire so they can fully support that cause?

    Honestly, I consider myself fairly political and have always paid attention to that world, but I’m perfectly fine hearing a post game sports interview without it going on a political tangent. I’m perfectly fine with the following morning debate shows on ESPN or FS1, as well as drive time sports radio, just talking about highlights, trade rumors, etc. Those are just as good without the political side to them.

    The problem with the sports/politics mix is it never just stops at that political aspect of the sports story. It always turns into a total political story.

  24. Maybe if journalists insist on asking the question they should make known to the public who they voted for and why first. Want to start a trend Mike? 🙂

    I love my football and I love the discussion but it has gone too far these days. Coverage is absolutely saturated to a point where there is no football left to discuss so we get on to other things.

    Sometimes you can get too much of a good thing and it loses its appeal, its shine, its allure. Maybe the NFL should think about that in light of falling audiences

  25. I do not want my sports and politics to mix. I know it helps make page views and content for sports sites when a Brady or Marshall speaks out one way or another but that’s not want the average sports fan wants. I hope at least. I love sports but I also know it’s the funny section of the newspaper and I like it that way. Like another poster said I’m not going to take my political cues from a guy who tackle the crap out of a ball carrier.

  26. “maybe some players who currently prefer to keep their views to themselves will realize that they can speak without fear of reprisal.”

    You only have to look at the constant flow of “faux” outrage from the Dems to know why smart players won’t speak freely on the subject of politics.
    Any player talking about supporting Trump would likely bring a campaign to boycott his team’s next game or something.

  27. Translation: We want athletes to come out against Trump so we can applaud their “courage”.

    And if they come out for Trump, they will be demonized.

    Hope this helps.

  28. “They can speak without fear of reprisal.”, says the media person who wants a story. The problem with the media is they want to further their careers without regard to the player. The player on the other hand, has to worry about how the public see him as the nation is torn in half as to who they support at all times. The player has to worry about how their teammates view him. The player has to worry about how management on his team and other teams view his position. So “They can speak without fear of reprisal.” is BS at best.

  29. It’s easy to speak out like Wilson when you play to the media narrative but when someone disagrees with them they are villified.
    Election is over, move on already

  30. Lazy sports writers want to write about politics because they don’t always have something interesting to say about sports. There are very good reasons that it is considered impolite to talk about politics in mixed company. Brandon Marshall said it quite well. Sports writers should show the players and their readers the respect of minding their own business when it comes to politics.

  31. Say something political, you get crapped on, don’t say something political, you get crapped on. Be successful, you get crapped on. Not be successful, you get crapped on. Say something controversial, you get crapped on. Never say anything controversial, you get crapped on.

    The media, and large portions of the population who have done nothing more than somehow manage to get dressed in the morning and not go a whole day without eating one of their boogers, will crap on you. Just because they live crappy lives and want you to do the same.

  32. I love it when Jets players defend Tom Brady characterization… It blows the top off of Pats fans like TyLawpick6…

  33. People turn to sports as an escape. Politics is already infecting too many areas of our lives.
    I was at the Saratoga track ( where many celebs come )one Summer about 10 years ago when they showed Hilary Clinton on the video board waving to everyone because she was at the track that day. Although she was very popular in NY, she was roundly booed.
    Even people who were like her were booing, because this wasn’t the place for politics.

  34. There’s another aspect that gadflies like Florio miss. Football is probably the ultimate team game – usually a team cannot succeed unless everyone is pulling together and for each other. To the extent someone is pushing or advocating his personal beliefs that may be opposite of toehrs on the team, he may be creating annoyance or worse among those he has to rely on and who have to rely on him.

    I know there are some examples otherwise, but I suspect this aspect still weighs on minds of most people.

  35. Marshall is right on. Reveal your political views and/or affiliation and get blasted by the left wing liberal press for expressing conservative views or by right wing conservatives for expressing liberal views…it’s a no win situation that a player doesn’t have to deal with. It’s called a distraction…to the player, to his teammates, to his coaches; distractions don’t equate to success in most cases! Stand your ground Brandon…don’t be bullied into saying something you don’t want to say!

  36. I think there is a lot of people out there who don’t really care what football players think about politics, not that they don’t have an opinion or the intelligence to talk about such matters, but in the same vain I don’t want to hear about former President Obama’s NCAA Bracket or President Trumps days as an owner of the New Jersey Generals.

  37. It’s Okay to share your political views, provided you’re a liberal. If you’re a conservative, no way.

  38. Anyone who listens to a celebrity or athlete talk about politics or social issues is dumber than they are.

    Remember — the ones who have been opening their mouths lately are still angry that America elected Donald Trump and even angrier that he’s doing what most Americans want him to do.

  39. When will Americans wake up and realize we have the illusion of choice?
    When will they realize democrats & Republicans are a large part of the problem?
    When will the realize all empires fall and America’s will be no different?

  40. Florio says: “Still, those who would like to use their public platform for political purposes never should feel that they can’t, and as more players speak out without consequence (and there never should be a consequence), hopefully more will feel that they can, too.”

    So Mike Florio is making a statement that the NFL ( or other sports leagues/franchises ) should be able to take up the political mantle “without consequence”. Isn’t that “special”?

    When we tune in ( or attend ) a professional sports game of any genre, we shouldn’t be automatically subjected to the political beliefs of the players regardless of their position. When I watch/attend, I do so to get involved in the nature of sport, the history/legacy of the game, and the respectful competition between combatants. It is most certainly NOT to hear the political or personal views of the players on subjects not related to that game or league.

    So why would anyone insist on letting players, coaches, etc. rail on about subjects outside of their profession? What reasonable purpose does that offer the public that pays the salaries of everyone putting on that particular contest? Do I want to pay to have a player or coach preach to me his/her position on politics, lifestyle, or philosophy?

    I would be interested in hearing the honest opinions of other fans in relation to this subject. Please post ( respectfully ) and let’s get a consensus of opinion on weather or not this trend is a positive or negative. I’m all for free speech…in the correct context. Professional ( or college ) sport is not that context.

  41. moerawn says:
    Feb 8, 2017 8:59 PM
    The media pounds on this because they know they can easily find anti-Trumpers who can’t wait to lecture the rest of us about their politics, which aligns with said media.
    ———-
    How is that any different than the right sucking their thumbs any time Obama or the letter O was visible.

    You right and left extremists make us in the middle sick. If it’s not one side crying it’s the other. Yet both sides act morally superior to everyone else. You can’t even handle your own emotions yet you have advice for everyone else.

    For the love of god both of you (left and right) SHUT UP and get on with YOUR lives.

  42. It is articles like this that show why most Americans no longer respect or tune out the media. The media tries to stir up the pot in order to create stories in order to make money. They do not care what damage they or the negative impact of their biased stories have on society.

    The real reason Trump is President is because the media in their ivory towers gained a weird sense of entitlement and annoyed the majority of this nation.

    The NFL is a kid’s game played by adults. It is strictly an entertainment factor and no a political platform.

    Also, in America you have the choice to express or withhold your opinion. So if these athletes wish to just focus on football it is their right and anyone (the media) tells them they are wrong for this then that is hypocritical.

  43. Man everyone knows there are two things you don’t talk about openly unless all parties agree to share thoughts.

    1. Religion
    2. Politics

    No one agrees on either to its full extent.

    That being said #TRUMP # MAGA

    Since all 3 levels of government were majority democrat, Congress, Supreme Court, and President in 2008, the left has lost 1665 seats across every level. THEY WERENT GETTING IT DONE<

    Bye SNOWFLAKES

  44. When the media uses the loaded term “speak out” when referring to athletes it actually means “help us broadcast our left wing political views”. The very last thing we all need is for sports to turn into the cesspool of politics and I find it laughable they are talking about “fear of reprisal” when we all know the only ones who need to have that fear are any athletes with a conservative point of view.

  45. Why should there never be consequences to NFL players speaking out publicly out their political beliefs? Doesn’t that depend on what the player says? Voicing simple support for a candidate is far different than using your post to promote political beliefs of any kind (such as Colin Kaepernick). To compare Brady to Kaepernick is complete lunacy.

    That said, I disagree with the entire premise of this article. I have never held a job which would allow me to use that job as a platform for promoting my political or religious beliefs; If I tried to do that, I’d have been fired in each instance. Perhaps you should explain why the NFL should be different. The league is suffering the consequences of political activism (much of that is on Kaepernick); their problem is they are the only ones who haven’t figure out that those lower ratings are tied directly to this.

  46. Please God, help football players continue to avoid the political distractions. 97% of them are total morons and I could give a rip about their political opinions. Amen.

  47. I actually like when people let you know by their words and actions who they are on the inside.

    As far as the NFL goes, if I were HC I would institute Hell’s Kitchen rules, no politics, no religion. That’s the stuff that tears people apart.

    But the dichotomy between today and 8 years ago is fascinating. Those who spoke out against the last administrator were immediately labeled. Turn about is fair play. I guess respect for the office is no longer in vogue. Is it possible this has something to do with a melanin deficiency?

  48. factschecker says:
    Feb 9, 2017 9:09 AM
    moerawn says:
    Feb 8, 2017 8:59 PM
    The media pounds on this because they know they can easily find anti-Trumpers who can’t wait to lecture the rest of us about their politics, which aligns with said media.
    ———-
    How is that any different than the right sucking their thumbs any time Obama or the letter O was visible.

    You right and left extremists make us in the middle sick. If it’s not one side crying it’s the other. Yet both sides act morally superior to everyone else. You can’t even handle your own emotions yet you have advice for everyone else.

    For the love of god both of you (left and right) SHUT UP and get on with YOUR lives.

    Thank you. Thumbs up was not sufficient. Most people I know live in the middle but there are many of the extremes you mention. They are the ones who are holding us back, on both sides.

  49. In today’s climate even 50% of the politicians don’t know what they speak of. why would you expect or care what a football player thinks and why would they really want to share it. in today’s twitter universe words speak louder than action. the only action people know today is to march and loot. In many cases most don’t even have a common agreement on why they are marching and looting.

  50. “You right and left extremists make us in the middle sick.”

    Spoken like a true moderate.

  51. Not gonna lie, nice seeing a Black Man defending a White Man’s right to remain silent on his “alleged support” of a politician who is despised, often HATED, by the Left.

    That’s unity right there folks.

    We have a right to speak & a right to remain silent.

    God Bless America

  52. nyneal says:
    Feb 9, 2017 8:52 AM

    Anyone who listens to a celebrity or athlete talk about politics or social issues is dumber than they are

    THIS right here ^

    I still find it baffling that people really care what a celebrity or athlete says/believes about politics.

  53. Kaepernick has an opinion, people get mad.

    Tom Brady doesn’t have an opinion, people get mad.

    No matter what, people are going to be mad. There’s just a lot of miserable people out there.

    ——————————————

    I hate Brady and did not care about his opinion of Trump. Politics should not be in sports. They are athletes. They should not act like movie stars who think their opinions matter.

  54. Did you know that Pres. Bush vs John Kerry, both were in the same fraternity/secret society at Yale??? SKULL & BONES!!! That’s all you need to know about presidential elections…

    Obama, Trump, Bushes and Clintons are laughing at all of you.. They are all on the same side.. NWO/Martial law goal! Agenda 21

  55. vancouversportsbro says:
    Feb 9, 2017 11:54 AM
    “I hate Brady and did not care about his opinion of Trump. Politics should not be in sports. They are athletes. They should not act like movie stars who think their opinions matter.”

    A movie star’s political opinion in no more significant than a football player’s. Whether you hate Brady or not (even though you do not know him) is not particularly noteworthy to anyone besides yourself, either.

    For what it’s worth, Brady has never publicly said how he feels about Trump’s policies and politics, other than being a personal friend, so there was never anything to “not care” about.

  56. As long as they want. No one can force them to have or disclose their views.

    I know right now the U.S. is at war … with itself. Call it the Cold Civil War, but until we’re forced to bear arms and open fire on one another, we can keep our opinions from anyone and everyone we want.

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