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The Race Gambit

Updated: Oct 19, 2021

NFL Hall-of-Famer, Gene Upshaw, tragically passed away on August 20, 2008 of pancreatic cancer. He was a 15-year NFL veteran, 5-time All-Pro, 2-time Super Bowl Champion, and at the time of his death, the Executive Director of the NFL Players Association. So, on March 15, 2009, 7 months after Upshaw’s death, DeMaurice Smith, someone who had never played professional football, was elected to replace Upshaw as the Executive Director of the NFLPA, primarily as a result his close relationship with Eric Holder, then-US Attorney General under Barack Obama.

Since his election to that position, DeMaurice Smith has been a poor head of the NFLPA, not being strong enough at the negotiating table to properly or effectively represent the players interests when dealing with the owners. He negotiated the last two collective bargaining agreements, and it has been generally agreed that the players got the short end of the stick in both deals, with the players collectively losing out on hundreds of millions of dollars of revenues, and now are being required to play an extra game while the owners continue to increase their bottom line. DeMaurice Smith has been a godsend for the NFL owners, and such a disaster to the players that two weeks ago, the players were on the verge of voting him out of office, and electing a new Executive Director.

And then out of nowhere, emails written by Jon Gruden, with a racist trope about DeMaurice Smith, that had been discovered in an investigation the NFL was conducting of the Washington Football Team, were secretly released by someone in the league office to the public. Jon Gruden was summarily fired, and as a result being the target of a racist trope, DeMaurice Smith, who was about to be ousted as head of the NFLPA was re-elected to that position within days of the emails coming out. The players who were on the verge of voting DeMaurice Smith out, voted him in, solely as a result of being the target of a racist trope. His re-election is not because of his ability, or his previous job performance, it is because of someone else’s racism, and the NFL players, who are 70% black, will continue to get screwed by the powerful in the NFL because they do not have a competent representative of their interests.

And that is how it all works. The powerful use racism to enrich themselves, and exploit black people. For decades, the left has lied about Republicans being racists in order to win the vote of black America, even though the Democrats have historically been the party of racism. The Democrats were the champions of slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, Japanese internment camps, and filibustering Civil Rights – all pure unadulterated racist positions. Racism is in the Democrat party DNA, yet it is the Republicans who are always accused of racism. Almost universally, Democrat policies are and have been disastrous for black people. In the overwhelming majority of the cities run by Democrats, the black communities are being decimated by crime, drugs, gang violence, poverty, unemployment, and failing schools, yet black people continue to vote in Democrat politicians at the rate of 90+% under the completely false accusation that Republicans are ones who are bad for black people.

It is a demonstrable fact that Donald Trump’s presidency had been the best one for African-Americans since Abraham Lincoln. Prior to the pandemic in 2019, black unemployment was at an historic low, real wages for black people were at an all-time high, the poverty-rate for black America was at the lowest it has ever been. Trump allocated more money to aid Historically Black Colleges and Universities than any previous president. He funded opportunity zones in black communities, and instituted prison reform. All this legislation and policies had been promised to black America for years by Democrats, but never delivered, and yet because Democrats falsely accused Trump of being racist, black people overwhelmingly voted against him, thus voting against their best interests, and for the continual destruction of their communities at the hands of the rich and powerful Democrats.

This is no different than what happened in the NFL. Because of a racist incident that was exposed by the people in power, the players, who are predominantly black, re-elected a leader who will continue to be a poor representative of their interests which will allow the same people in power to take advantage of these black players at the negotiating table. Just as black communities are continually hurt by electing Democrats on the sole accusation that the other guy is “racist”, NFL players’ interests will be hurt because they re-elected a representative as a result of one person using a racist trope.

This is one of the main reasons why racial tensions in our country have been dramatically increasing, not decreasing, over recent years, and things like micro-aggressions, unconscious bias, and hate-crime hoaxes have suddenly become issues. The more politicians can win votes by stirring up racial animus, the more accusations of racism, real or fictitious, will be exploited to help the rich and powerful to be elevated to elected positions which they will use not to help the poor, the middle class, or the minorities communities, but to further empower and enrich themselves, and their equally rich and powerful donors. And we fall for this gambit every single time.


Judd Garrett is a graduate from Princeton University, and a former NFL player, coach, and executive. He has been a contributor to the website Real Clear Politics. He has recently published his first novel, No Wind.

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Judd Garrett is a former NFL player, coach and executive. He is a frequent contributer to the website Real Clear Politics, and has recently published his first novel, No Wind

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