The NFL missed a valuable chance to use the Super Bowl as a way to try to mend fences with the throngs of Blacks fans it’s lost since Colin Kaepernick was blackballed by the league. Instead, the league showed it wasn’t really concerned with any of the fallout over the quarterback’s quest for social justice that cost him his job.
From the commercials to the controversial halftime performance, and much more, here are five ways Super Bowl LII failed Black folks.
MLK Dodge commercial
First and foremost, the group of overpaid, probably White executives who signed off on creating a car commercial featuring a voiceover from Martin Luther King Jr. – during Black History Month, no less – could have used some diversity in the decision-making process that brought that commercial to fruition. But to learn that certain members of King’s were partly responsible was the lemon squeezed into the open wound that was the commercial.
Justin Timberlake’s misappropriation of Prince’s image
Hologram or not, Prince made it very clear in his lifetime that he didn’t want to use his image for commercial purposes, let alone as a prop alongside a has-been singer with whom he had a feud. In the NFL’s world, ratings are king. But in Prince’s hometown, of all places, the measure of chill should have ben exercised by someone in Prince’s camp who clearly okayed the move that rankled many of the legendary singer’s fans.
No one kneeled for the national anthem
After a season with an increasing number of players participating in Colin Kaepernick’s silent protest advocating for social justice for Black people, there wasn’t one single report of a player on either Super Bowl team taking a knee during the singing of the national anthem. The lack of action probably thrilled NFL executives, who have been looking to sweep the controversy under the rug.
Considering the above, and considering the timing of the game, the concept of the big game being played during Black History Month was conspicuously missing from any commentary before, during and after the game. In a professional sports league where 70 percent of the players are Black, and with the current racial climate in the country, it’s the least the NFL could do.
Yes, the way Timberlake used Prince’s image was shameless and tacky, but the fact that the NFL chose him of all people to perform was a bigger smack in the face to a lot of Black folks who still remember when he skated scot free while Janet Jackson’s career suffered from his stunt ripping away her bra during the Super Bowl in 2004.
Oh yeah, by the way, the fact that the NFL still exists may be the biggest letdown for Blacks, since viewers probably witnessed dozens of times players had their brains damaged, either giving them or worsening their cases of CTE.