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Setting the record straight on claims of Eagles and Jeffrey Lurie being racist

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Don’t spread fake news.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The following article is co-written by myself (Brandon Lee Gowton) and Dave Mangels. Both of us had thoughts to share on today’s events regarding these tweets from the Philadelphia Eagles’ official Twitter account:


BY: DAVE MANGELS

No, Jeffery Lurie is not a racist.

Shaun King, a civil rights activist and former writer for the New York Daily News, took to Twitter on Thursday for a long rant accusing the Eagles owner of being racist. His basis was an article by Marcus Hayes, which is generally enough to have any Philadelphia fan stop reading. But because King has 783,000 Twitter followers, his rant and the Hayes story caught fire.

King’s evidence that Lurie is a racist? 1) Riley Cooper said “n****r”, 2) Colin Kaepernick is unemployed, and 3) out of context quotes of Lurie’s produced by Hayes.

It’s nonsense.

Lurie said no such thing.

Question: Would you sign Colin Kaepernick?

Lurie: I have no idea. We are completely happy with our quarterback situation.

Lurie did not say the Eagles would not sign Kaepernick and did not criticize Kaepernick’s protesting.

Lurie: I don’t think anybody who is protesting the national anthem, in and of itself, is very respectful. If that’s all their platform is, is to protest the national anthem, then what’s the proactive nature of it? But I think we sometimes can misinterpret what those are. I’ve talked to Malcolm Jenkins about it. He’s very involved in our community here. That’s my involvement with Malcolm. It’s ‘What can you do as a player to be involved in the community?’ Whether it’s social justice, whether it’s autism--you name it. There are opportunities to really be proactive. We, as a franchise, try to be as proactive as you can be as a sports franchise. We hope we’ll get more and more proactive.”

Lurie’s comments on anthem protests were the exact opposite of what Hayes wrote. Hayes, and then King, missed the point. Lurie wasn’t criticizing people who protest the anthem. He was criticizing people who only protest the anthem. He said he wants people to be involved in actionable change as opposed to solely a symbolic protest. Kaepernick has gone beyond just protesting the anthem by donating nearly $1 million to charity and doing work in the community. Lurie is proud of the work Malcolm Jenkins has done. The idea that Jeffery Lurie is against signing a black quarterback because of off-the-field issues holds no water. This is the owner who hired Mike Vick straight out of prison.

Colin Kaepernick’s apparent blacklisting by the NFL is a serious topic and one that deserves the attention it has received and more. When Tom Savage and Josh McCown are named starters, and Scott Tolzien, Blaine Gabbert, Case Keenum, Ryan Mallett, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kellen Clemens, and Brock Osweiler all have jobs, the arguments against signing Kaepernick “for football reasons” don’t hold up.

But to accuse the Eagles of racism for not employing him is entirely out of line.


BY: BRANDON LEE GOWTON

In addition to what Dave had to say here, I had some thoughts I needed to get off my chest.

  • WHY IS THIS STORY EVEN NEWS? Seriously, it’s been exactly one week since Lurie held his press conference. His comments on Kaepernick have been out there for seven days now. Why is this just getting attention now? I mean, the answer is obviously because of the Hayes piece, but my point is: if Lurie said something truly incendiary and controversial I think we would have heard more backlash before the one-week mark. It would have already been a story by now. This is manufactured controversy.
  • The Philadelphia Daily News writer who wrote about Lurie’s stance on Kaepernick used out of context quotes. The following bolded words are conveniently omitted from Lurie’s answer in the writer’s piece: “I don’t think anybody who is protesting the national anthem, in and of itself, is very respectful.” The writer used the quote as “I don’t think anybody who is protesting the national anthem … is very respectful.” That’s not an insignificant exclusion.
  • Even Torrey Smith, a big Kaepernick advocate (and his former teammate), thinks Hayes’ article was bad.
  • It’s very difficult to give this writer the benefit of the doubt when he has a history of flat out LYING in his pieces. Earlier this year, I shared an example of how the writer completely made up something that did not happen.
  • I cannot understand how the Philadelphia Daily News continues to employ a writer who takes quotes out of context and lies about actual events. And not only employs him, but then has the audacity to prompt you to read his work behind a paywall! It’s insane. This isn’t even about hot takes and bad opinions — it’s straight up misinformation. It’s such a disservice to all the other great writers at the Daily News and the Inquirer who do quality work. I guess the justification could be that his articles get a lot of attention (case in point), but this kind of attention shouldn’t be the attention a credible outlet seeks.
  • It’s also a huge disservice to those who don’t know better. In this case, it was Shaun King. Now, I’m not trying to take blame away from King. In my view, the comments he made on Twitter are very irresponsible. To frame Lurie as a racist without providing any real proof is a serious and damaging misstep, especially when King has such a large audience. For example, one of his tweets was shared by actress Gabrielle Union, who has more than 3.5 million Twitter followers.
  • In addition to misinformation getting spread through Twitter, it also gains traction by getting aggregated by various news sites. Black Sports Online, for example, wrote the following headline: “Eagles Owner Calls Kaepernick Unsignable & Disrespectful; Gave Riley Cooper Extension After Called Black People N*****s.” Nowhere did Lurie specifically say Kaepernick was unsignable or disrespectful. And not only is the original misinformation shared and sensationalized — additional false information is attached to it.

Simply untrue.

In addition, Lurie was known to have donated to Hillary Clinton’s campaign leading up to the 2016 election.

BSO has since apologized for this specific mistake, but the reality is some people may have only seen the original tweet and not the correction.

  • My point in all of this is to express frustration with how fake news gets created and spread. It’s very disappointing to see such damaging accusations flung around so recklessly. People just see a headline and freak out. My pinned tweet consistently holds true:
  • No matter how you feel about Kaepernick, Lurie, or any of this ... I hope we can all agree it’s important to value truth. While our opinions may differ, facts and reality do not. Here’s hoping BGN’s efforts go towards setting the record straight.
  • UPDATE: Here’s a very relevant tweet from Malcolm Jenkins, who hasn’t been shy to stand up for Kaepernick.
  • For your convenience, I’ve included Lurie’s full, UNEDITED quotes about Kaepernick below. Unlike elsewhere, there’s no context missing here.

Q. Would you sign Colin Kaepernick if you had the need at quarterback? What do you think the owners around the league's responsibility is when it comes to players who are demonstrating in the name of social injustice? (Tim McManus)

JEFFREY LURIE: That's kind of two questions in one. Let me just focus on social injustice:

It's a big problem in America, social injustice. It's a big problem around the globe. Anybody who wants to do proactive things, to try to reverse social injustice, I'm all in favor of. It has to be respectful. It certainly has to respect the military and the people that serve, the women and men that serve our country, emergency responders, whoever that is. You've got to, I think, do it in a respectful way.

But I applaud anybody that can find respectful ways of trying to use their platform in some way to discuss social injustice. We all need to discuss it. We've all seen it around us. We live in a city that has a lot of it. There are multiple issues. They're not simply racial issues. There are a lot of economic issues.

Players have grit and determination. There's no boundary on how that grit and determination gets expressed. I'm not talking about Colin here. I'm just talking about the concept of social injustice in America and elsewhere.

Sports is an opportunity to bring people together. I see it as an opportunity. I applaud when players can bring communities together. We see it all the time, and I think it's great.

Q. Would you sign Colin Kaepernick? (Tim McManus)

JEFFREY LURIE: I have no idea. We are completely happy with our quarterback situation. So like every position situation, I mean, if that happened, we'd have to fully evaluate it. With [former Eagles QB] Michael Vick, there was a complete vetting of how is he as a teammate? What is his character? What is his potential? What is his football intelligence? Can he be a backup, in Michaels’ situation, or a third string, in that time period? It's a whole series of evaluations. That's how we approach any player acquisition. I don't want to talk about any specific player.

Q. As an owner in this league, as a follow-up to Colin Kaepernick, there are a number of people who believe he's been blacklisted. How would you address that? (John McMullen)

JEFFREY LURIE: I think the definition of blacklist is some discussion amongst people to not hire or not approve or something like that. I've never had a discussion [about that] with anybody.

It doesn't work that way. There's no communication. We're very competitive against each other, the 32 owners. I don't reveal anything. They don't reveal anything. There's no discussion that ever takes place about any player. In my 23 years in the league, I've never heard any discussion of a player like that.

You keep it to yourself. You have your own strategy. I think that's the way it works.

Q. Following up on Kaepernick, when you say that you applaud anyone who finds respectful ways to have their platform, is kneeling for the national anthem respectful to you, and how do you react to that? (Martin Frank)

JEFFREY LURIE: I don't think anybody who is protesting the national anthem, in and of itself, is very respectful. If that's all their platform is, is to protest the national anthem, then what's the proactive nature of it? But I think we sometimes can misinterpret what those are. I've talked to [S] Malcolm Jenkins about it. He’s very involved in our community here. That's my involvement with Malcolm. It's, ‘What can you do as a player to be involved in the community?’ Whether it's social injustice, whether it's autism – you name it. There are opportunities to really be proactive. We, as a franchise, try to be as proactive as you can be as a sports franchise. We hope we'll get more and more proactive.

Particularly on issues that we think are company-wide, like autism and things like that. I think it's all about respect. It's respect. Anyone who doesn't have respect for the servicemen that support the country loses me. So it's very important to show respect for the flag, for the anthem, but it can be misinterpreted that certain people are not showing respect.

We’ve got to get to the bottom of what are they trying to accomplish, and are they being proactive in the community, and what are they doing? I think you’ve got to take a holistic view of it.