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A Growing Number of Black Athletes Are Leaving Pro Sports To Tackle Racism

Black AthletesAnquan Boldin, who won a Super Bowl ring with the Baltimore Ravens in 2013, abruptly retired this summer after signing with the Buffalo Bills. Boldin’s cousin Corey Jones was killed in 2015 by a plainclothes cop who later was charged for the slaying.

All-Pro NFL wide receiver Anquan Boldin inked a new contract with the Buffalo Bills this summer worth nearly $3 million for one season. Weeks later, Boldin pulled a Dave Chappelle. Like the funnyman who walked away from a multi-million dollar television deal, Boldin decided there were things in life more deserving of his time and energy besides football.

Speaking with Sports Illustrated, Boldin cited the Charlottesville, Va., melee, where one woman was killed during a counterprotest against supporters of Confederate monuments, as the tipping point. “I just remember lying in the dorm room and thinking, there’s no way I can continue to play football,” said the gridiron legend.

The recent focus on athletes-turned-activists has centered squarely Boldin’s former teammate Colin Kaepernick, whom many believe is being denied the chance to play football in retaliation for his season-long protest of the national anthem. While Kaepernick was allegedly stiff-armed out of the league, a growing number of Black athletes are voluntarily exiting professional sports because of the anti-Blackness that saturates the sports industry and out of concern for their personal health and safety. Many of these jocks are investing their newfound free time in projects to combat racism and the problems plaguing Black people.


Former running back Rashard Mendenhall ditched his cleats and the NFL years before Kaepernick’s kneeling. At age 26, Mendenhall chose to retire at the peak of his athletic ability and during his most lucrative earning years as a professional player. Feeling compelled to explain why he prematurely ended a successful career, which included two Super Bowl appearances, the former ball carrier provided a heap of specifics in his 2014 farewell essay.

He relished the people, experiences and millions of dollars football allowed him to have, butconfessed that in addition to 300-pound tacklers, he had to “fight through waves and currents of praise and criticism, but mostly hate.” Speaking with a retiree’s frankness, Mendenhall added he’s lost count of “how many times [he’s] been called a ‘dumb [n-word]’.”

In addition to racist epithets, Mendenhall eloquently explains how Black athletes are perceived in the same niggling ways as Black people who’ve never scored a touchdown. “I am not an entertainer. I never have been. Playing that role was never easy for me. The box deemed for professional athletes is a very small box. My wings spread a lot further than the acceptable athletic stereotypes,” he wrote.


One of the ways racism injures Black people is by suffocating aspirations. Mendenhall and generations of Black people are propagandized to think physical aptitude is their lone path to brilliance. The extra brawn, puny brain accusation was zealously endorsed for years, and helps explain why white men still most often coach Black athletes at all levels.

Former Baltimore Raven John Urschel grappled on the hyper-violent offensive line by day and moonlighted as a Ph.D, student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology during his final NFL season. He retired in July, also at the age of 26. Working towards a doctorate in mathematics, Urschel acknowledged his decision to subtract pro football from his life was influenced in part by new research suggesting football players frequently suffer long-term traumatic brain injury. The former Raven sustained a concussion in 2015. Urschel disclosed the damage was so severe he was temporarily unable to solve high-level math problems. For some, it’s incomprehensible that some Black people are now voluntarily leaving the cheerleaders, the field and mountains of cash to preserve their physical well-being.

Former Miami Dolphins Richie Incognito (68) and Jonathan Martin (71) had a contentious relationship, with Incognito heaping racist abuse on his teammate. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Apparently, a daily recurrence of racial abuse is prompting more players to permanently drop the ball. Jonathan Martin played three NFL seasons before retiring at the age of 25. While playing for the Miami Dolphins in 2013, Martin alleged that he was subjected to constant harassment and racist insults from fellow teammates. He also charged that this abuse was tolerated and encouraged by the coaching staff.A lengthy investigation found that Richie Incognito, one of Martin’s white teammates, called him the n-word, mulatto, and “darkness.” Incognito’s brand of humor also included threatening to kill Martin and swapping text messages with teammates about shooting Black people.


If Anquan Boldin had played this season, he would have been Incognito’s new Buffalo teammate. While Incognito remains an NFL employee, Martin wrote publicly about being “petrified of going to work” as a professional football player. The turmoil lead him to substance abuse and multiple suicide attempts. In his time away from the game, he’s nourished his mental health and delivered numerous talks to youth about depression and the importance of practicing self-confidence.

While Martin uses his retirement to encourage children, Boldin now has more time to lobby Congress. Months before his retirement, he shared his personal commitment to end police violence against Black people at a congressional forum on criminal justice reform. Boldin’s cousin, Corey Jones, was shot and killed by a Florida plainclothes officer in 2015. The killing motivated Boldin to conclude: “At this time, I feel drawn to make the larger fight for human rights a priority. My life’s purpose is bigger than football.”

Lifetime activist and Hall of Fame football titan Jim Brown, despite his recent commentsabout Colin Kaepernick shocked the league by retiring in his prime in 1966. Iconic protests of the ’60s and demands for Black power profoundly impacted Brown and how he prioritized football. More than a half century later, renewed demonstrations are prompting some modern Black athletes to value Black lives more than white ballgames.

 Gus T. Renegade hosts “The Context of White Supremacy” radio program, a platform designed to dissect and counter racism. For nearly a decade, he has interviewed and studied authors, filmmakers and scholars from around the globe.










"I'm just trying to make a way out of no way, for my people" -Modejeska Monteith Simpkins









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Pro sports is nothing but grown men playing little boy games. What purpose do they serve other than putting millions and billions in the white mans' pockets with blacks providing lots of that money? We spend lots of money for other peoples' children to entertain us. Read some books, walk in the parks, observe each other talking on the fuckin' phones everywhere. That's entertainment and doesn't cost too much, other than making phone makers rich. I, personally, don't have one. Once I leave my house, there's no one I need to speak to until I get back home. Has served me well all these years.

We have a so-called "president" that's out of his fucking mind. That's entertainment right there, if you can stand looking at him for a couple seconds. Somebody needs to put his ass on a ROCKET, soon, before he kills everything breathing on Planet Earth.

Last edited by Norland

  Bravo!!  Bravo!!  I will no longer consider jocks brainless eunuchs who perform for massa.   Cuz you know....Jim Brown.....George Foreman are showing exactly what cooning is.  All that tough talk Jim Brown was doing as he was kicking Brenda Sykes[a black woman] behind and throwing her out his bedroom window into the pool.  And Tiger....and I mean I could go on.  Now we strong Black women NEED strong Black men to help us battle massa.  We are TIRED of doing it alone.  Has nothing to do with the white whores.....or buffooning.  It has everything to do with fighting for OUR race.  Bottom line.  But!

Last edited by Kocolicious

If black men can't wear suits, stop getting tattoos, can't talk worth a good got damn, can't stop being ignorant as hell, stop killing each other and stay out of the fuckin' Slave Pens, seems white women can snap them all up, seeing as to how the Black dicks thrill them so much and black women should look elsewhere or do good or bad by themselves. Black men have lost their ever loving minds, permanently, never to return.

On Sotomayor, some black dude was beheaded, his head left on a neighbor's porch and his body burned in Mississippi. Who's talking about that?? Where's the Black Lives Matter assholes?????? On Sotomayor, some white bitch stuck a hot dog up her vagina and put it on a hot dog bun to serve to someone who pissed her off. The bastard smelled so bad, ole homeboy couldn't get it past his nose. 

People in America have gone totally insane. Everyone had beter eat at home or starve fuckin' to death, unless you want to eat White Pussy Hot Dogs. Take a chance on sending your food back when it doesn't please ya!!!!!!! You'll get whatcha get!!!!!!! Yummy!!!!!!

Last edited by Norland

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