I officially ended my allegiance to the Baltimore Colts December 24, 1977, and I can tell you why in five words.
The Ghost to the Post.
For old school NFL fans of the league’s “golden age” (for my Generation X, it is the 1970’s) the phrase, “Ghost to the Post,” is a concise holy writ describing one of the greatest games in NFL history.
“The Ghost” in this scenario is Dave Casper, the Hall of Fame tight end for the Oakland Raiders. “The Post” is the pattern Casper ran in the final seconds of regulation time during the mercurial playoff game between the Raiders and the Colts at Baltimore’s old Memorial Stadium on Christmas Eve, 1977. The clutch, 43 yard, over the shoulder catch, slung to him by Kenny “The Snake” Stabler, another Oakland Raider Hall of Famer, put the Raiders in position to kick a game tying field goal as time ran out, to send the game to sudden death overtime.
Sean Yoes (Courtesy Photo)
Ultimately, the Raiders prevailed in the NFL’s first double-overtime playoff game on that dirt field at Memorial Stadium, 37-31.
I listened to the entire game on the radio in my mother’s bedroom, mesmerized. I started off rooting for the Colts of course. But, by the fourth quarter the heroics of Casper (who caught three touchdowns that day), Stabler, running back Clarence Davis and the rest of the renegade Raiders fired my imagination, flipped my allegiance and a Raiders fan for life was born (despite my West Baltimore roots!).
I am still an Oakland Raiders fan; despite the fact the team has lost four in a row (including a maddening loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Oakland a couple of weeks ago) after a 2-0 start. However, I am no longer a fan of the NFL and haven’t been for a few years. The league that showcased some of the greatest athletes on earth playing the game I played and loved, lost its way many years ago, in large part because of the seemingly inexhaustible greed of the league’s owners.
But, this week the latest chapter of the Colin Kaepernick saga has extinguished any remnant of affection I had for the NFL, and that affection has been replaced with loathing.
The NFL is officially dead to me.
This week, Kaepernick filed a grievance against NFL owners for collusion. Instead of going through the NFL Players Association, Kaepernick has hired high profile attorney Mark Geragos (Geragos has represented Michael Jackson and Chris Brown among others) to represent him. According to Geraogs, the action demands an arbitration hearing and claims the NFL and its owners, “have colluded to deprive Mr. Kaepernick of employment rights in retaliation for Mr. Kaepernick’s leadership and advocacy for equality and social justice and his bringing awareness to peculiar institutions still undermining racial equality in the United States.”
Allegedly, Kaepernick would have to prove the owners of two or more NFL teams, or the league office and at least one team conspired together to keep the ex- San Francisco 49’er quarterback out of the league. And he has to provide the proof that the collusion took place to deny him the opportunity to play in the NFL. Legally, it seems like a difficult bar to hurdle.
However, there is no denying all 32 NFL teams are owned by White men and like President Donald Trump, most of them don’t like the sight of the league’s Black ballplayers kneeling during the national anthem in solidarity with Kaepernick, who started the protest in 2016. In fact, last month it was Trump who said, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, `Get that son of a bi–h off the field right now…He’s fired.’”
Well, Jerry Jones the owner of the Dallas Cowboys seemed to concur with Trump when he declared earlier this month Cowboy players who didn’t stand for the national anthem could be benched.
Here’s another NFL fun fact connected to the Kaepernick case; his grievance will be overseen by a man named Stephen Burbank, who is the NFL’s, “special master.” I don’t believe in coincidences.
And it is not a coincidence that Kaepernick is a better quarterback than more than a few of the men starting at quarterback in the NFL right now. But, he most likely won’t play another down in the league because the White men who own it, like Trump didn’t like that, son of a bi–h,’ protesting racism, in all its uniquely American forms.
I ended my allegiance to the Baltimore Colts in 1977, 40 years later I’m ending my allegiance to the NFL.
Sean Yoes is the Baltimore Editor of the AFRO and he is host and executive producer of The AFRO First Edition video podcast. Find it on the AFRO’s Facebook page.