Never forget, the NFL wants everyone to get back to concentrating solely on football and to keep politics out of the daily discussion.
Sure it does.
The hypocrisy of the league was on full display yet again Monday night when Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill posted on his team's official website his praise of and support for Brett Kavanaugh, a friend of nearly 40 years and a former classmate at Georgetown Prep who was nominated by President Trump to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Whatever happened to, you know, sticking to sports?
That's what NFL players have been told time and again throughout the national-anthem controversy, which added another chapter on Tuesday when the Players Association filed a grievance against the league that the policy it adopted earlier this summer — requiring players to either stand during the anthem or remain in the locker room — violates the collective bargaining agreement and "infringes on player rights."
Before you tell me the difference here is that Bidwill simply was endorsing a long-time friend for an incredibly prestigious honor and position, look no further than what's happened to still-unsigned free agent safety Eric Reid for supporting his 49ers teammate and friend, Colin Kaepernick, who essentially has been blackballed from the league since spearheading the movement of taking a knee during the national anthem to protest social injustice.
In the letter sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee supporting Kavanaugh's confirmation — which also happened to be endorsed by another prominent former classmate, Yankees GM Brian Cashman, and other alumni of the prestigious D.C. prep school — Bidwill vouches for his former classmate as "a good man, a brilliant jurist and eminently qualified to serve as an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court."
Still, this isn't just a note from some random rich dude supporting one of his long-time buds; this is a political endorsement from the owner of an NFL team running on his team's official website, which supposedly services a fan base encompassing diverse backgrounds and beliefs.
"The purpose of the letter is to talk about Brett as a person," Bidwill told AZCardinals.com. "We have known him and known what a brilliant mind he has. He's eminently qualified.
"I think now that he's been selected by the President, he will go through a thorough vetting process and as they go through that process they will learn about the great person we know. He is a man of high character, high intelligence, excellence and independence. We want to speak up and show our support as former classmates and long-time friends."
Bidwill also appeared Tuesday morning on conservative host Mike Broomhead's radio show and insisted his endorsement was non-political.
"I've known Brett since I was 16 years old. We were high-school football teammates. We've grown up in life together," Bidwill said. "People are saying stick to sports? You know what? We ask our players 20 days a year — game days — to restrict their statements. The rest of the days, we want our players to get engaged in the community." In February of 2017, Cashman similarly had endorsed another former Georgetown Prep classmate, Neil Gorsuch, in an interview with the Daily News after Trump had nominated the since-confirmed Gorsuch for the previous SCOTUS opening.
Broncos president John Elway also supported Gorsuch's candidacy with a letter – on his own personal letterhead, albeit replete with team logos — to the Judiciary Committee in March of last year, only to come out a few months later with a statement featuring his desire to "take the politics out of football."
And what about Houston Texans owner Bob McNair? He compared kneeling players to "inmates running the prison," yet also declared, "Our playing fields — that's not the place for political statements."
Of course, President Trump has inflamed the vitriolic controversy as much as anyone, referring to kneeling players as SOBs and suggesting anyone who protests should be fired.
If it's acceptable for owners and team executives to openly advocate their political beliefs, shouldn't the players be afforded those same rights, without consequence?
Or are political views only fine to be shared, even on company time or via an official company platform, as long as they align with your personal beliefs?
One more time, the NFL and its fans can't have it both ways.