by William Skink
With the sudden retirement of quarterback Andrew Luck, the NFL has a serious narrative/PR dilemma going into the 2019/2020 season. If you’re interested in the race/class implications, there is no one better than Nation writer Dave Zirin. Read the whole article. Here’s a taste:
This is a story that’s been unfolding like an onion, with many layers and no shortage of tears. There is the narrative about the toll this game has taken on Andrew Luck’s young body: a lacerated kidney, concussions, torn abdominal muscles, a shoulder injury that cost him a season, and mysterious ankle ailments that promised more surgeries and rehab. There is the reaction of Luck himself, someone whose reputation for loving football is renowned, saying that at 29 the sport had ceased to be fun. He commented in a choked-up voice, “I’ve been stuck in this process [of constant rehab]. I haven’t been able to life the live I want to live. It’s taken the joy out of this game… the only way forward for me is to remove myself from football.”
Then there is the palpable fear in the offices of the National Football League about what the retirement of Luck represents and the attendant public relations hit. Behind the pageantry, the war planes flying overhead, and the tailgating keg stands, this is a game largely played by black people from poor backgrounds for a largely white affluent fan base in the stands. Seventy percent of the league is black, and top tickets cost hundreds of dollars. A player like Andrew Luck masks that reality. He graduated from Stanford. He comes from an affluent family. He is white. He played football because he wanted to, not because he had to. And he chose to walk away. He decided that he didn’t need this anymore: that the game he loved—not to mention the fans he loved—didn’t love him back.