Dick Gregory inspired me to boycott the NFL

Photo credit: Instagram – @IAmDickGregory

“There is a profound amount of ugly in this world today. Consider some slight discomfort to make life a little better as we pay tribute to a lifelong crusader.” –Christian Gregory, son of Dick Gregory

When first confronted with the idea of boycotting the National Football League, like any other football fan speaking realistically, I did not like the idea. I love sports. Fall and winter Sundays from September through the Super Bowl are spent in front of the television watching games. Also, as a journalist who began his career in sports in 2010, I have covered New York Jets games at Met Life Stadium.

I could nitpick and make excuses about why I would not boycott the NFL, but the answer in my spirit, at my core was pretty obvious: I will stand in solidarity with my NFL-loving brothers and sisters as a show of strength. Hell, as a man who grew up a Jets fan, I know we are going to suck anyway. Then Dick Gregory died Saturday night and this morning, while scrolling through Instagram, words from his son Christian spoke to me in a way that no others had.

“Consider some slight discomfort to make life a little better as we pay tribute to a lifelong crusader.”

Boycotting is all about a level of discomfort. I cannot boycott the NHL because I do not watch hockey and there is no sacrifice, no level of discomfort. Not watching the NFL is more than slight discomfort for me. It will disrupt how my Sundays have been spent for decades. But it is a level of discomfort I must endure. King Dick Gregory would have wanted it that way.

So in solidarity with my NFL-loving brothers and sisters around the country, for Colin Kaepernick, Michael Bennett and other current or former NFL players who have protested, in the spirit of Dick Gregory and most importantly for the voices of the young, unarmed men who have been murdered by law enforcement, I will not watch NFL football this season. Furthermore, I will not discuss it on social media and will find a not-for-profit to donate a portion of my newfound Sunday time to. I hope that you find your own reasons to experience slight discomfort.

There is one asterisk: I enjoy telling the stories of athletes, particularly those of color, doing great things in our communities. There aren’t enough voices showcasing the support many athletes offer, through a professional league or their charities. My voice will not be silenced on such matters.

Derrel Johnson
Derrel Johnson

Lover of Christ, sports, hip-hop, my native home of Harlem and much more. IG @JazzJohnson1 Twitter @JazzJohnson10 Facebook @JazzJohnson100

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