Let’s get the obvious preamble about Brett Favre being one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history out of the way, because it’s obviously true and it has no bearing on Favre’s current views beyond the fact that he still gets to air them publicly despite the fact that he hasn’t played a down of professional football since January 2, 2011.
And of course, Favre has the right to his political leanings, whatever they may be. It’s just a shame he doesn’t want those he disagrees with to have that same right. On a recent episode of “The Andrew Klavan Show,” on The Daily Wire, Favre made it abundantly clear that in his mind, politics and sports should just never mix.
“I know 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,” Favre said. “I want to watch all the important parts of the game, not what’s going on outside of the game, and I think the general fan feels the same way,
“I can’t tell you how many people, have said to me, ‘I don’t watch anymore, it’s not about the game anymore,’ and I tend to agree.”
Well, perhaps. But this is the same Brett Favre who said last October that he would vote for Donald Trump, and would appear on Trump’s behalf as a rally in Green Bay. Favre also made his political preferences known on social media.
And since at least last August, Favre has been talking about NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem.
“I know from being in an NFL locker room for 20 years, regardless of race, background, money you grew up with, we were all brothers it didn’t matter,” Favre said. “Guys got along great. Will that be the same (with kneeling)? I don’t know. If one guy chooses to stand for his cause and another guy chooses to kneel for his cause, is one right and the other wrong? I don’t believe so. We tend to be fixed on highs.
“I don’t know what it’s like to be Black. It’s not for me to say what’s right and what’s wrong. I do know we should all be treated equal. If you can’t do that, you shouldn’t be in America.”
Clearly, Favre’s feelings on the subject have moved from antipathy to outright offense. When asked why it was okay for him to publicly support Trump, but not okay for other current and former athletes to express their own political beliefs, Favre said that the controversary was very lopsided and kneeling for the anthem has “created more turmoil, than good.”
“It’s really a shame that we’ve come to this,” he said. “Something has to unify us, and I felt like the flag, standing patriotically — because Blacks and whites and Hispanics have fought for this country and died for this country. It’s too bad.”
Sports have always been political. And Colin Kaepernick, the first NFL player to kneel for the anthem, was inspired to do so by Nate Boyer, a former Green Beret. It was Boyer who suggested to Kaepernick that if he wanted to make a statement about the things he found distasteful about America, he should kneel at the same level with his teammates as opposed to just sitting on the bench.
“I was showing that I support his right to do that, I support the message behind what he’s demonstrating for,” Boyer said in 2018, one season after Kaepernick was first mysteriously unable to find employment in the NFL. “But I’m also standing with pride because I feel differently in a lot of ways too. But there’s nothing wrong with feeling differently and believing different things. We can still work together to make this place better.”
So, when we say that Kaepernick’s actions are disrespectful to the military, or that the actions of other athletes make sports less interesting or enjoyable to watch, maybe we’re just trying to superimpose our own political beliefs onto the entire structure.
And in Brett Favre’s case, if he wants everybody to Shut Up and Dribble, so to speak, perhaps he should heed his own advice. It’s not right for Favre to say that his political outspokenness is just fine, and the contrasting beliefs of others represent some sort of societal problem. We have more than enough of that in this country already.
Either speak out or shut up — that’s your right either way. What is not your right is the automatic clampdown of those opinions, beliefs, and gestures you don’t agree with. If we all love America, and if we all believe in democracy, that’s kind of what it’s all about.