The shadow of Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand during the National Anthem in all 2016 NFL games still loomed over Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7, 2021. The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback explained his controversial decision in 2016 as a protest of “a flag for a country that oppresses [B]lack people and people of color” (per NFL.com). Kaepernick specifically named the unjust police shootings of Black people as the primary reason for his act of civil disobedience.
The NFL supported Kaepernick after his first protest, with its official statement reading, “Players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the national anthem.” The NFL quickly changed tune in 2017, however, when Kaepernick became a free agent. Per CNN, no team would offer the highly ranked ex-quarterback a contract, leading Kaepernick to file a grievance against the NFL, complaining that team owners conspired to deliberately block his re-signing. It fell on deaf ears, as Kaepernick remains unemployed, save for a viral Nike ad portraying the athlete as a martyr for his cause. “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything,” the ad’s copy read.
While the NFL, in no small part due to Kaepernick and other players’ similar protests, began a social justice awareness campaign called “Inspire Change” in 2017, there are many, including pop icon Mariah Carey, who find the league’s effort insincere. Find out what the legendary songbird had to say about the NFL’s latest iteration of the “Inspire Change” ad campaign.
Mariah Carey delivers sarcastic response to NFL's 'Inspire Change' ad
Amidst numerous comedy-heavy commercials that aired during Super Bowl LV, the NFL opted for a TV spot reminding viewers of its “Inspire Change” initiative. “Inspire Change,” per the NFL’s official website, focuses on partnering with “team owners, public officials, [and] law enforcement” among others to “identify meaningful ways to strengthen local communities and the greater society.” In June 2020, according to the New York Post, the social justice awareness campaign pledged a whopping $250 million over the course of 10 years to take down systematic racism. The NFL commercial features a highlight reel of smiling, diverse employees and such platitudinous ad copy as, “Let’s choose to be for one another.”
With the ad (and the overall “Inspire Change” pledge)’s main source of inspiration clearly being Colin Kaepernick and his 2016 protests, singer Mariah Carey did not miss the opportunity to mock the NFL for its debatably heavy-handed message. “Happy Colin Kaepernick Appreciation Day!” Carey tweeted during the game.
Among the users agreeing with the singer, one tweeted an observation of the double standard between Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady’s controversial support of former President Donald Trump and Kaepernick’s own political stances. “Funny how we’re all supposed to forget Tom Brady’s politics but not Kap’s,” the tweet read. Well, here’s hoping, at least, the pledged $250 million will make some headway for positive social change.
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