What were they trying to say, exactly?
Who are the Seattle Seahawks?
The Seattle Seahawks are the Internet’s favorite NFL team.
How did they achieve this status?
The most obvious reason is that they’ve been very successful recently. Since 2012, their regular season record is 46 and 18, and they won the Super Bowl in 2013.
More than that, though, is the fact that the Seahawks employ several of the NFL’s most colorful and outspoken characters. Their coach seems to believe he’s Walt Disney. Which makes perfect sense because they’re quarterbacked by Russell Wilson, a man who seems to believe he’s a Disney World rollercoaster photo booth with sentience. His blandness is so impenetrable—his brand-awareness so transpicuous—that he retains and emits color by osmosis. He's a prism with generous pomade.
Also included on the roster are Richard Sherman—who possessed the everyone’s-favorite-woke-NFL-player crown before Colin Kaepernick hijacked it—and other legitimately outspoken and Shield-apathetic players such as Martellus Bennett and Doug Baldwin. (And, until this year, Marshawn Lynch.)
Ultimately, they have an unprecedented combination (for the NFL, at least) : a team full of people with smart things to say (which actually isn’t that rare), a team full of people who don’t mind saying these things publicly (which is extremely rare), and an organizational structure which seems to encourage it (which never fucking happens).
Why are they in the news today?
As the meaning and value of Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racism remains a national conversation, other athletes have joined the cause. On September 4th, Olympic medalist soccer player
Megan Rapinoe took a knee before her game against the Chicago Red Stars. Several other NFL players have also either publicly and verbally supported Kaepernick or held their own form of anthem-related protest. (Or both.) Even much younger athletes have weighed in. Mike Oppong, a junior at Doherty High School in Massachusetts, took a knee during the anthem before a game. (And was promptly suspended for it.)
So, when the Seahawks announced last week that they were planning to make a group statement—sticking their collective necks out to bring attention to racism and police brutality; potentially sacrificing salaries and sponsorships and fans (as other less prominent athletes have)—we paid attention. Here was the NFL’s most progressive team making what was sure to be a resonate and impactful statement about the state of our country.
What happened next?
They… linked arms. Because unity and freedom and ketchup or something.
Basically, they pulled a fast one on us. And by “pulled a fast one on us” I mean “pulled some #AllLivesMatter placards out of their collective asses, and passed them out to the crowd.”
What was that linking of arms protest supposed to say?
Forget about what it was supposed to say. Instead, ask what it actually said. The answer, as Jezebel’s Kara Brown articulated, is nothing.
Actually, it’s less than nothing. Because at least saying/doing nothing allows you the opportunity to say/do something at a later date. Nothing gives you an opportunity. An out. But what the Seahawks did is essentially substitute the appearance of protest for an actual protest. It was a protest facsimile. A Xerox. It looked cool, but it said nothing, stood for nothing, and sacrificed nothing.
And considering their very prominent social media campaign leading up to Sunday, it was the equivalent of grabbing the world’s loudest bullhorn to amplify a whisper.