The NFL is not having its best month. First, a prominent player shared an anti-Semitic post on social media. This came amid a brewing labor battle over return-to-play protocols during a pandemic, which reached a new level yesterday with players taking to social media with the #WeWantToPlay hashtag.
To top it all off, the Washington Nobodies have been accused of perpetuated a culture of misogyny and sexual harassment in the workplace through at least the majority of Dan Snyder’s tenure as owner of the franchise, which is currently in search of a new name that is not a racial slur
While he did not join the front lines (to the best of my knowledge) in speaking up about the current labor dispute, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Zach Banner has been among the most prominent voices in speaking out against anti-semitism and sexual harassment. He posted a video addressing the latter yesterday. Transcribed below is the meat of his message:
We need to identify, as men in the National Football League, and men in general…to lead by example…to be able to share this with women, who not only want to be reporters, cheerleaders, coaches, as well as other women within the building. We can no longer rely on them going to the HR department. We can no longer expect for them to hold themselves up, so we have to change the environment. Just because the woman gets dressed professionally for work, doesn’t mean she got just for us to look good that day. We like jewelry, because we’ve earned it. We like nice clothes, because we’ve earned it, with our hard work and money. So have they. But it doesn’t mean that they need to feel sexually harassed when they come to the workplace. As a man, and as a black man, I thought about ‘the good ones’, when I said that. It’s related to us black men when we talk about whites, and the white people. There’s always ‘the good ones’, but ‘the good ones’ aren’t keeping us alive. The ‘good ones’ aren’t saving us, so we need to be accountable as men and make the workplace for women a lot more appropriate. A lot safer. Why would they come to work if we’re doing that? So as a man, ladies, I promise you this, if I see it, I’ll speak up. And I think I need more men, especially throughout the NFL Players Association, to show support to this message of their own and speak up, and show solidarity. Let’s move forward in a better light, and a better mindset, because women are coming to work uncomfortable.
In a Washington Post article last week, 15 women made allegations, often with evidence in the form of screenshots of text messages, against a large number of former team employees—some of whom had only been fired after the team learned of the report coming out—of a history of ongoing sexual harassment. Among them was the son of former Steelers wide receivers coach Richard Mann, who bears his father’s name.
Many spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution after the team refuse to release them from non-disclosure agreements, but the chorus was repeatedly this: nobody will care if you say anything. There are 1000 people ready to step into your shoes.
Since then, a number of prominent female reporters have also spoken out and shared their stories and let it be known: this isn’t just in Washington. This isn’t just in the NFL. This isn’t just in sports. The Carolina Panthers had already been exposed for this, but frankly, no team’s fanbase should assume that their favorite organization’s hands are entirely clean, either.
It shouldn’t be the responsibility of women to do the work in fixing this problem. Thanks to everyone who helped me understand that today.
It’s on us to do more. To listen more. To speak up. Like I’ve been saying, we’re in this together. pic.twitter.com/Ai4PVHD4uy
— Zach Banner (@ZBNFL) July 17, 2020