I was fourteen-years-old when you were drafted by the New England Patriots. As a teenager growing into a man, you were one of my idols. I saw you as wholesome, inspirational, and beacon of hope for somebody like me, who was often overlooked, left behind, and written off.
I am now 33-years-old, and up until a few days ago, I always thought about how cool it was that I got to watch my teenage idol as an adult, and express my admiration for you to my daughter who is now fourteen-years-old, the same age I was when you entered the NFL.
The events of the last week hit me to the core, and I sat back as my black friends and family members hurt, and it angered me. I have a very small platform, but I knew that I had to use that platform to voice support, highlight injustice, and pray for the people in my life and those around the world who are hurting.
You have been the face of the NFL for most of my life, your decision to leave New England and join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers dominated headlines. You used that time to promote the TB12 brand, and I don’t blame you, business is business. I bought your book, I bought your jersey’s, I even paid more money than I had to get my hands on your rookie card. Now… now I’m just disappointed.
Your silence has spoken louder to me than anything I’ve read or heard over the last week. A couple of prayer emoji’s on Twitter and Instagram is not a statement, it’s not speaking out against injustice, it’s not standing up for you black teammates. I regret ever idolizing you. In my eyes you went from being the person I was striving to be, to nothing but a coward. Players like Joe Burrow who had everything to lose, spoke up, and yet you stayed silent. I’m not judging you by what you think, because you haven’t bothered to express it one way or the other. I am judging you as one of the most recognisable faces in the NFL, a supposed leader, and when your teammates, fans, and even haters needed you the most… You chose to remain silent.
Do not mistake my words, this isn’t sour grapes about you leaving the Patriots, this about my idol letting me down. This about a world where an unarmed black man was killed by a police officer and it wasn’t even shocking because it’s becoming too regular a thing, and you have said nothing.
You’ll always be the greatest the quarterback to ever play the game in my eyes, unfortunately, that’s where your legacy now ends.