It looks like the Las Vegas Raiders frequently make the news for the wrong reasons. In the midst of the conviction of former police office Derek Chauvin, the team got the spotlight because of an insensitive Tweet their social media team posted.
A jury found Chauvin guilty in the death of George Floyd. The conviction was met with mostly universal praise and joy. Many NFL teams posted messages about the need to keep fighting racial injustice. The Denver Broncos saw it as “a moment of accountability and justice.” However, the Raiders went a different route and posted a message on social media that said, ‘I can breathe.’ The Tweet received negative backlash and rightfully so. ‘I can’t breathe’ were the last words” George said before Chauvin murdered him.
The team’s social media team rightfully earned scrutiny, as the message was tone-deaf. Nevertheless, the situation took an unexpected twist. Owner Mark Davis told Ed Graney of Las Vegas-Review Journal he had come up with the Tweet and added that he took full responsibility for it but he wasn’t going to take it down. Later, Tashan Reed of The Athletic had the chance to talk to Davis.
Reed pointed out New York Police Department supporters wore “I Can Breathe” shirts following the 2014 killing of Eric Garner. Davis said he had quoted George Floyd’s brother Philonise, ‘today, we are able to breathe again’, which he indeed said after the verdict. The owner mentioned that it’s too late to take the Tweet down. Moreover, he believes he learned something.
The Raiders failed to read the room… again
Nothing will bring back Floyd, but Chauvin is facing the consequences of his actions. In the words of a medical expert that testified in the trial, Floyd’s life would not probably have ended, “there is no evidence to suggest [George Floyd] would have died that night except for the interactions with law enforcement”. The Raiders’ decision to post something about being able to breathe was head scratching.
Nobody will deny the Silver and Black were once trailblazers when it came to race, social, and gender barriers. However, their recent actions show they’re just a shadow of its former self. While other NFL teams have tried to listen to the fans and have tried to be proactive, the Raiders have taken a seat back and have taken a passive approach. Last season, most organizations showed support for Black Lives Matter while they stayed silent for days and they failed to read the room once again one year later.
The relationship between social issues and sports is a complex one. You can’t simplify it on a Tweet, it takes effort, empathy, and understanding to fully grasp the impact events such as the murder of Floyd and the subsequent conviction of Chauvin, have on society. Davis’ message on social media shows we still have plenty of work to do in that regard.
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Top Photo: Jose Carlos Fajardo/The Mercury News