The NFL owners were adamant when they enacted a rule requiring players to be present and stand for the playing of the national anthem that they wanted to keep politics off the football field. As Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill reminded us on Monday, that notion only really applies to the players and whatever they stand for.
Following President Donald Trump’s announcement that he would be nominating Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, a story went up on the Arizona Cardinals official website praising the selection, focusing on how team owner Michael Bidwill and Kavanaugh grew up together. The article doesn’t have much, if anything, to do with football. Instead, it was all about how Bidwill and others are “reaching out to those deciding on Kavanaugh’s candidacy, sending a letter vouching for his character. Kavanaugh will now go through confirmation in the U.S. Senate.”
“I’ve known him for more than 37 years.”
Cardinals President Michael Bidwill attended high school with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.https://t.co/LotJ1xqSWp
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) July 10, 2018
For all the #StickToSports whining there is in the world, there couldn’t be a clearer violation of that “sacred” notion. And yet, there almost certainly won’t be any kind of backlash over this. We all know why, of course. Because the power structure of the NFL allows for it. The player protests before a football game are a violation of a kind while a team owner openly stumping for a Supreme Court nominee via his football team is fair. Because? Who knows.
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was a HS classmate of Cardinals’ owner Michael Bidwill at Georgetown Prep, class of '83. Bidwill organized their classmates for a letter of support that will be sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The letter: pic.twitter.com/3m6gmXAN4J
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 10, 2018
As Nancy Armour of USA Today notes, Bidwill has the right to do whatever he wants on his own time, but by using the team to spread his political message, he’s violating a pact between himself, the franchise, and its fans.
Did Bidwill survey his season-ticket holders to see how they’d feel about their team throwing in with Kavanaugh? Did he consider that the team’s promotion of Bidwill’s support might alienate and even anger some of the people who pay the Cardinals’ bills?
Did he not stop to recognize the bald hypocrisy of an NFL owner dragging his team into a charged political debate less than two months after the league muzzled player protests during the national anthem because, as Houston Texans owner Bob McNair said, “Our playing fields — that’s not the place for political statements.”
Of course, we all know the answer is either “no, he didn’t stop to consider any of that,” or, more likely, “he doesn’t care.” Because there are two sets of rules when it comes to the kind of people who are owners and the kinds of people who are players. And it’s not hard to draw a straight line between that and the very reason the players started their anthem protests to begin with.
It’s a reminder that #StickToSports ultimately means #StickToSportsUnlessIAgreeWithYou.