From the University of Missouri football team to Colin Kaepernick to Michael Bennett - after Muhammed Ali in the 60s, who would have thought our sports celebrities would become the voice of political conscience in America?
[Two] NFL players have backed out of a scheduled week-long trip to Israel sponsored by the Israeli government. Michael Bennett, the Seattle Seahawks defensive end, was the first to issue a public statement on Friday.
Bennett did not link to the specific article he read, but he did mention quotes which were published by the Times of Israel on February 5, in which multiple Israeli government officials made it clear that the goal was to enlist NFL players as propagandists, even if their unwitting participation was limited to cheery social media images and accompanying hashtags.
Shortly after Bennett’s tweet, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills declared that he too would not be participating.
On Thursday, the Nation published an open letter signed by a slew of prominent civil rights activists urging NFL players to reconsider, connecting the human rights abuses in Palestine—a crisis that will only worsen if Israel goes ahead with its plan to seize privately-owned land in the West Bank—to the efforts of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The trip will kick off tomorrow, assuming the remaining players still choose to board the plane, that is.