It’s Raiders weekend in Broncos Country, with all the darkness that brings, and it’s also the final weekend before the darkest presidential election in modern American history. Talk about heading into the Black Hole.
Want to know how dark it’s gotten? Some people are seriously – albeit with tongue planted firmly in cheek (maybe) – pushing Peyton Manning as a write-in candidate for president.
Seems like he’d be a fairly moderate conservative who would excel as a policy pitch man and unite the nation behind a mantra of buying things. But Peyton has a skeleton or two in his closet dating back to his college days at Tennessee, and in my opinion missed a post-Super Bowl opportunity to speak out on sexual violence against women, especially on campuses.
At a time when this issue has never been more front of mind, high-profile athletes like Tom Brady also need to call out Republican Donald Trump for his videotaped admissions of sexually assaulting women. It’s not funny, it’s not locker-room talk, and it disqualifies Trump.
We’ve reached a point in the campaign where it’s not enough to distance yourself from Trump. The National Football League, which has a terrible record of failing to properly discipline players for domestic violence and sexual assault, has an obligation to its female fan base to speak out loudly on these issues and to show its players how women should be treated in America.
That includes beloved Colorado sports figures like Manning and Denver Broncos Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway, who at the 11th hour has stepped into the political arena to tell us how to vote to (in his opinion) protect the state constitution.
Although I only agree with one of Elway’s three ballot initiative recommendations in a recent campaign ad, I won’t condemn him for speaking his mind on pro-business issues he feels are important enough to take a stance on and risk alienating a certain segment of his fan base.
After all, I stood firmly behind Denver linebacker Brandon Marshall when he lost endorsements for kneeling during the national anthem in order to protest for social justice, and Elway never blasted Marshall for his actions, even though I assume he disagreed with his approach.
I also assume the politically conservative Elway supports Trump, just as his former Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Shanahan did when he hosted a Trump fundraiser last summer. But maybe not. Elway hasn’t taken a position on the presidential race – just the ballot initiatives – and that’s a problem.
He should have the courage to condemn Trump for his comments on sexual violence against women the way Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner did last month, publicly pulling his support for the most divisive presidential candidate in U.S. history.
A lot of people don’t want to mix their politics and sports because one is an escape from the other, but that hardly seems possible these days as social issues are being taken up by athletes on both sides of the political aisle.
And not condemning truly scary positions on sexual violence, racism and calls for revolution can be just as bad as condoning those things. Trump has hinted at armed insurrection if he loses the election, and some people will read that as permission to hurt the people the GOP candidate has railed against this awful election season – women, immigrants, disabled people and minorities.
We all have an obligation, regardless of political affiliation, to stand up to and denounce such overt forms of political bullying, and Elway, Manning and anyone else with a public platform should stand up and condemn Trump ahead of his campaign stop in Denver on Saturday night.
As for the hated Raiders, that team needs to be put in its place Sunday night before it’s uprooted from Oakland and moved to Las Vegas by owner Mark Davis and casino kingpin and Republican kingmaker Sheldon Adelson (if they can kiss and make up).
That move would make the Raiders and even more hated rival of the Broncos, although it would be a fun place to catch a road game once a year.