Ever since Colin Kaepernick used his platform to take a stand against police brutality, activism has been on the rise in the NFL. It was never a novel move – sports and activism have a long history (examples include Jessie Owens, Muhammad Ali, and Tommie Smith, John Carlos, and Peter Norman) – but it’s always a controversial one. But the wokest of the woke just might be the Philadelphia Eagles.
The team members have shown themselves to be deeply invested in the project of social justice, with many of the players taking public and private moves toward that goal. Eagles defensive end Chris Long played for nothing this year, opting instead to give his money to funding education.
Tonight, the Eagles will face off against the New England Patriots, the second most profitable franchise in the entire NFL, and President Trump’s favorite team. Quarterback Tom Brady is a public supporter of the president.
Many Americans do not believe President Trump is concerned with social justice issues, as evidenced by his low electoral performance with African-Americans. He has done little to buck the impression and still insists that the Central Park Five – a group of black murder convicts exonerated by DNA evidence – are guilty.
This contrast between the two teams sets a showdown that very well may function as a referendum on the president or conservative politics in general, rather than being solely about the championship or the NFL itself.
A top civil rights attorney, David Rudovsky, had the opportunity to sit down with Eagle members as they asked questions about criminal justice in the city. According to the Guardian, he said that their questions were good.
“They were asking pretty substantive questions, Rudovsky told the Guardian. “I was very impressed with the way (the players) were putting in the effort. The level of questioning was quite good.”
But wait. That sounds nothing like Trump’s picture of the whiny, entitled NFL players who won’t stand for the flag. What Rudovsky saw was Eagles players who appreciated the complexity of social justice issues, and sought a way forward in the conversation.
So the Eagles are physical manifestation for the liberal, everyman, working class, underdogs; and the Patriots represent the conservative, Fox News guzzling, white privilege, bullies. Now that is a showdown for even the geekiest politiwonk.
The showdown between these two diametrically opposed teams will begin at 3:30 pm PST at the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, and today, many are hoping that “woke” also equals “win.”
UPDATE: “Woke” appears to be the magic word of the week, as the Eagles flew to their very first Superbowl victory ever on Sunday evening, taking out the Patriots with a final score of 41-33.