The cop who murdered George Floyd was convicted on all charges yesterday. This was a rare moment when something that should have happened actually did, and so news of the verdict flooded into every nook and cranny of America, including our expanded sports universe. The NFL released a statement. The NBA did likewise. And the NHL released a statement that, at the very least, is less vulnerable to bad cropping than any other.
Individual teams also put out their own proclamations, with most of the verbiage bleeding together and the word “justice” beaten into meaninglessness. But only one of those teams had the grit and determination to WIN the battle of anodyne statements, baby. And that is how the Las Vegas Raiders taped up their hands, buckled their chinstraps, injected themselves with pure gasoline, and posted and PINNED this:
I could tell you why this is a shitty tweet, but that’s hardly necessary when we know that cops are still copping, and when every other American, pro athletes included, has already roasted the tweet in question like a fucking marshmallow. What’s far more interesting, to me, is the GRITTY ORIGIN STORY behind this dollop of idiocy. I’ll let Tashan Reed of The Athletic tell you all about it:
Obviously, it’s one thing when George Floyd’s brother expresses this sentiment. It’s quite another when a pirate-themed football brand decides, “You know what? We ALSO feel that way, bro,” and paraphrases it without knowing that cop fanboys—and many Raiders fans are very much cop fanboys—adopted I Can Breathe as their personal motto to own all of the people cops have killed.
In a way, I respect Mark Davis and his $2 haircut for taking responsibility for this tweet and for, in a fit of either integrity or pigheadedness (let’s assume it’s the latter), refusing to take it down. At least he’s willing to own his words. They might be the only thing Mark Davis owns that he didn’t inherit.
Oh, but the story gets even BETTER.
NFL OWNER: Wow, I just learned a thing. From now on, I’m gonna do more homework. For example, I might look outside of my own ass once in a while. I feel like that would lead to some enlightening discoveries.
(For the record, Reed believes Davis’s tweet was genuinely sent out of ignorance and not malice. And I do as well, because why WOULDN’T Mark Davis be that stupid?)
Let me just say: I REALLY don’t know anything. Like, nothing. You people who actually read the news every day, you take your knowledge for granted. So I could see where you’d look at our tweet and say, “These people are insanely fucking tone deaf.” But again, you must understand: I am a fucking moron. Also, I won’t take down the post.
And then Davis made a brief pivot into post-tweet smarm before pivoting BACK to dubious contrition.
By the way, this tweet would have been shitty even if Staten Island had NOT co-opted that phrase for its own fascist purposes years ago. Even without that context, we’re looking at a case of Bad Thirst. With context, America’s Most Committed Failson still arrives at the conclusion of, “I guess that wasn’t a very good statement I made,” when the conclusion that EVERY FUCKING PERSON should arrive at is that we have created a bloodthirsty, racist-as-shit police industrial complex that needs to be destroyed. Not reformed. Not hugged out over beers. Destroyed.
So when you learn that the NYPD and its supporters (lemme call those supporters cop-zis and see if it sticks; it probably won’t) used the murder of Eric Garner to actively taunt everyone else, you should instinctively say, out loud, “Fuck them.” That’s the human move. Instead, Mark Davis was like, “Man, I wish my statement had been as empty and forgettable as all the others.” Because then no one would have noticed, and life would have carried on as it did before the verdict, and as it will afterward.
In that way, none of these teams or leagues deserve to be lauded for their statements yesterday. Just because the Raiders posted the WORST tweet doesn’t mean the rest of them are worth a shit. Nothing any of these teams—or anyone else, for that matter—says short of DEFUND holds weight. And none of them will ever say that, because they don’t want to pay the tax that comes with that kind of outspokenness.
So while Mark Davis committed the cardinal sin of being ratioed, his admitted ignorance is hardly unique. He’s part of a greater sports industry that has, over the course of a single year, refashioned its ignorance to make it slightly more palatable to an infuriated general public. George Floyd’s murderer was convicted yesterday, but the ensuing response from all of these teams—not just the Raiders—showed that he’s hardly the only guilty one.