Dan Calabrese: The NFL's Woke Broadcasts Aren't About Stopping Violence


With great self-righteousness and unmistakable sanctimony, the Fox NFL crew warned us about what we should expect if we attempt to watch the pre-game show on Sundays this season.

I think I will continue watching NFL Network before the games.

Curt Menefee, Howie Long and Terry Bradshaw informed us that it is their duty – as it is for NFL players – to use their platform to advocate for, er, whatever it is that would make things better.

And therein lies the problem.

No one can disagree that it’s troubling when you see a man die as a result of a police procedure, just as no one can dispute that it’s bad news when a man is shot while trying to get into his car.

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The problem is that we’re responding to these events by making a lot of noise – and breaking things – but not with a serious attempt to understand what happened or why.

Remember when Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson, Missouri, by Officer Darren Wilson? NFL players virtue-signaled for an entire season in various ways, including a display by the then-St. Louis Rams who took the field in T-shirts reading “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.” That was based on the fiction, widely believed at the time, that Brown had said (and acted out) that very thing before Wilson shot him.

It turned out, of course, that this story was complete fiction.

Are you disappointed by the amount of virtue-signaling happening in the NFL?

It was Brown who had been the aggressor and it was Wilson who fired his weapon only after exhausting every other technique to try to get Brown to back off. That is why every investigation, even the one conducted by Barack Obama’s Justice Department, cleared Wilson of any wrongdoing.

Now we see the same dynamic happening with Jacob Blake.

Athletes are adorning their uniforms with his name, as if he is a completely innocent victim. As the news comes out that he is a sexual assault suspect and was reaching for a knife at the time he was shot, it doesn’t matter. Pro athletes are too invested in the Jacob-Blake-as-victim narrative to back off now.

And that is what happens when people who don’t really know what happened or why start pontificating as Menefee, Long and Bradshaw are promising to do here.

No one wants to see more violence involving police officers. Everyone wants to see less. Making that happen means a better understanding of everything from urban decay to generational poverty to police training and procedures.

Slapping slogans on your helmet accomplishes none of this. Neither does taking a knee for the national anthem.

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Violence between police and citizens doesn’t happen because people want it to happen. It happens because we have very complex problems in this country that we aren’t even trying to solve.

We’re choosing virtue signals and riots over real thought and analysis. And the people who host your football pre-game show aren’t going to make that any better.

I won’t tell Fox to stick to football analysis, because they don’t do that much better. If they did, I wouldn’t be watching NFL Network every week.

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Dan Calabrese has been editor of since 2012 and was the syndicator of Herman Cain's newspaper column from 2006 to 2012. He has written for a wide variety of publications, from The Detroit News and Human Events to Transport Topics and Pet Age. Dan lives with his wife and son in Royal Oak, Michigan.