The NFL and the Minnesota Vikings teamed up this week to turn one of the ugliest and most hurtful chapters in a young girl’s life into one of the most uplifting ones.
Nya Sigin, a 14-year-old who attends school at Prior Lake High in Minnesota, was the target of a racist video made by another student, according to an Instagram post made by the NFL’s official account Friday, December 10. Neither the league nor the Vikings franchise were prepared to stand for that brand of hateful and senseless behavior, so they did something about it.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the Vikings’ social justice committee — comprised of linebacker Anthony Barr, linebacker Eric Kendricks and running back Alex Mattison — surprised Nya with tickets to Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles as a way to “celebrate her bravery and courage.”
Teenager has Heartwarming Reaction to Super Bowl Tickets
Goodell delivered the surprise after the franchise hosted Nya and her family at U.S. Bank Stadium Thursday night, where the Vikings earned a 36-28 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Her reaction was one of joyful shock and gratitude.
“Oh my God! Oh my God!” Nya responded after Goodell introduced himself and handed her two tickets to the Super Bowl. “It’s the Super Bowl!”
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Surrounded by purple-clad family members, all of whom wore similar expressions of awe and surprise, Nya could hardly contain herself.
“Do you want to go?” Goodell asked. “Can you go?”
“Yes!” Nya replied, smiling and embracing the commissioner. “Thank you so much!”
“Now you’ve got the hard job,” Goodell added. “You’ve got to pick who’s going with you.”
After acclimating to the reality of the moment, the 14-year-old took some time to talk about the experience with an NFL camera crew that was on hand for the presentation.
“This is crazy,” Nya said. “It made me finally feel like I have a support system behind me. And it was just amazing.”
NFL Social Justice Initiative in Second Year of Existence
How seriously the NFL and its member franchises take social justice is open for debate. In the contemporary United States, the very meaning of the term is often a point of contention between conflicting political factions, which naturally leads to disagreements on the best methods to take to achieve social justice — if any at all.
Two facts, however, are not in question. The first is that the NFL has not always made social justice rhetoric and/or work a priority.
In reality, the league spent years ducking the issue. The NFL’s response to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling on the sidelines for the National Anthem in protest of police violence against the black community is just one for instance.
At least part of the NFL’s rationale that kept social justice initiatives at arm’s length for years was that taking any stance on social or political issues is generally bad for business — particularly a business as big as professional football that relies on such a diverse customer base.
The second fact is that after years of trying to ride the fence and keep all its fans happy, the league has finally, at least ostensibly, chosen a side — that of social justice. The evidence is a 10-year, $250 million commitment toward affiliated causes that the NFL made in 2020.
Skeptics who might question the sincerity of some league officials and team executives when it comes to their true commitments to social justice, or their motives behind developing the initiative, have ground upon which to stand in that argument.
One thing everyone should be able to agree on, however, is how truly awesome it is that Nya and one of her family members will be in L.A. this February enjoying the Super Bowl, because they deserve to be.