The segment centered around President Trump’s remarks about NFL player protests that began Friday and continued throughout the weekend. Wilbon began:
There are two worlds here going on at the same time that intersect — there’s one that deals with the leagues and all the procedural matters and all those sorts of things, and there’s one that just is guttural. It’s emotional. As a 58-year-old black man in the United States of America, it scares the hell out of me what I heard out of the elected president of the United States. It scares the hell out of me.
I was scared the moment I woke up after the election. Colin Kaepernick’s mom gave great voice to this when she says, ‘So many of us thought this was going to be bad. It’s been worse.’ That is my first thought. My first thought is are you kidding me? We’re dealing with a man with an open microphone who is President of the United States is calling men who are exercising their First Amendment rights sons of bitches. Are you kidding me?
Wilbon encouraged listeners to seek out Dan Rather’s Facebook post, which he says he called and read to his 91-year-old mother this morning, and said that even NFL owners — one of whom texted him this weekend — were wondering what everybody should do next. Then LZ Granderson asked Wilbon what exactly the NFL is responding to when none of this is new to people who followed Trump’s election campaign. Wilbon responded:
LZ, you’re speaking to a level of sophistication that the American electorate doesn’t have. Look what happened with Brexit. We’re not smart anymore. We’re not even literate! The guy in the White House didn’t know who Frederick Douglass is, or that he’s been dead 125 years. We’re not literate. So you’re saying, ‘We know that.’ LZ, you are giving way too much credit to the American people. We have shown what we can be.
Rex Ryan admitted to this yesterday, said, ‘I voted for him.’ So, my first response to Rex Ryan is, ‘What the hell are you doing now?’ That’s what you’re saying to me. But then I realized, we’re not that smart. Not an attack on Rex Ryan — he’s not that smart either. The people who said, ‘He’s going to get my job back.’ They’re morons! He’s not getting their job back. He’s not opening coal mines again, but they thought that. They were stupid enough, they were misinformed, they were uninformed, not literate enough to understand what could happen and what could not happen.
And so now this comes to fruition through sports. People can finally wake up sometimes if they see their heroes being attacked and they say, ‘Wow, wait a minute! Let me get a grip on this now! I wasn’t really paying attention since November, or the previous year that you covered.’ Remember, Rosa Parks came eight years after Jackie Robinson. Things happen in sports long before they happen [in society]. That is what finally wakes you up.
People were protesting the Vietnam War. Who galvanized the protests? Muhammad Ali. There were serious racial problems after Reconstruction when people were ushered out of office in the South who were elected officials. What led to race riots? Jack Johnson beating Jim Jeffries on July 4, 1910. So, while people want to portray it as the toy department, sports brings people to act and brings people to come to view with reality in ways that other things do not.
It’s just like Robert Kraft said. Sports is the most unifying thing in this culture. Politics is the most divisive. That’s the truest thing that was spoken yesterday. I believe what we’re seeing is there’s gonna be a corner turned here, because he picked the wrong industry.
It is advisable to listen to the audio clip for full context; it will be interesting to see if Wilbon is right that we have indeed reached a turning point with this crossing into sports.