The NFL prohibited Robert Griffin III from wearing a “Know Jesus, Know Peace” shirt to Sunday’s postgame press conference.
With much of the country under the impression that narcotics users, child abusers, and wife beaters comprise an unhealthy percentage of the 22 men they see on the field on Sundays, Robert Griffin III appears as the right messenger, and the words he wears on his chest appear as the right message, at exactly the right time. The league could use a few guys like this at this very moment.
Unfortunately, the NFL fashion police disagreed. Griffin, sidelined by a dislocated ankle injury during Washington’s blowout of Jacksonville, spoke at the presser with shirt inside-out. That’s the definition of adding insult to injury.
“RGIII was wearing a t-shirt that said ‘Know Jesus, Know Peace.’ NFL Uniform Inspector Tony McGee (former Skins DE) approached Griffin,” Richmond Times-Dispatch reporter Michael Phillips tweeted. “McGee told Griffin he couldn’t wear the shirt because it wasn’t a Nike product. Made him turn it inside out for the press conference.”
But Redskins teammate Ryan Kerrigan wore a Five Four Clothing shirt, not an NFL licensed product, to the postgame Q&A. The fashion police didn’t force him to wear the league’s approved clothing.
The NFL has a public relations problem. Much of this is their own doing. Roughly 2,000 guys will play in the NFL this season. All but a handful will avoid harming their kids, cold-clocking their wives, and driving after drinking. The NFL rewards aggression on the field. Off of it, the meek inherit the league office. Whether the issue is football hits causing concussions or the public-relations hits from bad apples, the league doesn’t adequately defend its game or the decent men who play it. The NFL doesn’t accentuate the positive, despite owning a cable television network and a highly-trafficked website, in response to the emphasis on the negative in the Fourth Estate.
Good guy stories abound. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, selected in the first round in May by the Minnesota Vikings, reacted to moving from college to the pros by obtaining a pink Cadillac for his mom through a deal with the automaker. A few years back, then Kansas City Chiefs tight end Leonard Pope saved a boy’s life by jumping into a pool fully clothed–wallet, cell phone, and everything. Detroit Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah, as Breitbart Sports columnist Dan Leberfeld just tweeted out, bought a homeless musician a new trombone in response to hearing of his mugging.
When disgusted parents and youth coaches implore the NFL to better police their players, they don’t generally have a fashion police in mind. Orwellian uniform inspectors, with the NFL’s gazillion-dollar apparel contracts, make dollars, so they make sense–at least to the league. As bad behavior–an alleged serial killer catching a Tom Brady Super Bowl touchdown pass, a second-generation owner driving with his own private pharmacy in tow, a three-time Pro Bowler knocking out his girlfriend in an elevator, etc.–harms the league’s bottom line, the quarter counters on Park Avenue will surely react, albeit too slowly for their own good.
The NFL can’t help that one of its true role models just fell to an ankle injury. They can do something about allowing him to broadcast his redemptive message as widely as TMZ broadcast Ray Rice’s destructive message.
NFL may stand for No Fun League. Its fans won’t stand for a No Faith League.
Daniel J. Flynn, the author of The War on Football: Saving America’s Game (Regnery, 2013), edits Breitbart Sports.