In the wake of Colin Kaepernick, quarterback of the 49ers and first sportsman to have put the knee on the ground during a hymn, then of the movement “Black lives matter”, that NFL players have widely supported, the actors of American football continue to act for the recognition of the rights of minorities. HAS a few hours apart, the most popular of American sports passed through two significant milestones in an institution long sclerotic by the weight of tradition.
These advances began on Wednesday with the permanent abandonment of the nickname of the Washington team. After a season and a half of transition spent under the name “Football Team”, the owners of the franchise opted for the “Commanders”. The historic, and much criticized name “Redskins” (“red skins” in French) because of its racist connotation towards Native Americans, therefore falls definitively into the oblivion of the past.
“One legacy. One common future. We are the Washington Commanders,” the team tweeted.
One legacy. One unified future.
—Washington Commanders (@Commanders) February 2, 2022
Proof of the importance of this name change, and especially of the symbolism it represents, US President Joe Biden himself did not hesitate to respond on the social network, joking that he could have two “commanders” in the capital of the United States and accompanying the message with the photo of his German shepherd, also called Commander, in the gardens of the White House.
I suppose there’s room for two Commanders in this town. pic.twitter.com/xqlHzp6rq0
— President Biden (@POTUS) February 2, 2022
This decision is one of the consequences of the deep examination of conscience of the United States on its relationship to its racist past, started in the spring of 2020 in the wake of the death of the African-American George Floyd.
A vast movement of anger has thus led part of society to reconsider certain symbols, such as the statues of Confederate generals, supporters of slavery, or of Christopher Columbus, the colonizer.
But the fight is not yet won. Coach Brian Flores, who is suing the Professional Football League (NFL) and the Miami Dolphins, New York Giants and Denver Broncos franchises for racial discrimination, said he is determined to bring about profound change, even if it means putting jeopardize his career.
The 40-year-old black technician, recently fired by Miami, admitted in an interview with CBS on Wednesday that he knew the risk he was taking for his professional future. “I understand the risk and yes, it was a difficult decision to make, I hesitated a lot”he agreed.
Last Tuesday, Flores filed a class action lawsuit against the NFL, which he says “is managed like a plantation”, as well as three clubs he accuses of racial discrimination. Both in the context of his recent dismissal from the Miami Dolphins, which he also castigates for breaches of sports ethics, as well as during “dummy” job interviews practiced by the New York Giants and the Denver Broncos.
In particular, Flores claims that the Giants gave him a job interview last month for the job of head coach for no reason other than to comply with the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview candidates from of minorities. Because he incidentally learned in the meantime that they had chosen another candidate.
“This rule is meant to give minorities an opportunity to sit in front of landlords. But I think it only serves them to tick a box. And it did, by the way I know I don’t I’m not the only one in this case, he said. And to add: “I felt humiliation, disbelief, anger. I worked so hard to get where I am in football. I spent 18 years in this league, to find myself at a bogus maintenance, I was injured”.