NFL players, coaches, and owners have a tremendous platform to speak out on issues of their choosing. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft chose to use his to fight back against rising hatred and racism in America. In particular, Kraft and his Foundation to Combat Anti-Semitism bought ad time during their October 30 game against the Jets to air an advertisement fighting anti-Semitism.
Heavy NFL insider Matt Lombardo cited the advertisement as an example of the opportunity that the league has to try to influence society, alongside a monologue by CBS Sports anchor James Brown.
“The issue of hate has been injected into sports in recent weeks in the wake of Kyrie Irving’s anti-Semitic comments, and into American pop culture after Kanye West’s similar comments,” Lombardo wrote. “Kraft’s actions and Brown’s Sunday monologue offered an example of the platform of the NFL to fight back against the hateful ideas that have found a home in echo chambers across factions of American society.”
This isn’t the first time Kraft has been active on this issue, but it’s the most intertwined it’s been with sports – and it’s understandable why, given recent events. The Patriots owner started his foundation in 2019, investing $20 million to try to utilize social media and other media opportunities to push back on anti-Semitism.
“Brown, and Kraft, and anyone with the fortitude to stand in the face of racism, anti-Semitism, and vile hatred by instead offering love and hope deserve to be commended just as vociferously as the comments they are responding to deserve condemnation,” Lombardo added.
Robert Kraft Cites Kanye West Tweet as Motivation for Ad
It’s rare to see an NFL owner going after a musical artist, but it’s also rare to see a musical artist express vile opinions openly. Kraft told Peter King that Kanye West’s tweet saying that he was going “death con 3 on Jewish people,” was part of the motivation.
While his tweet was widely condemned, there were some positive responses, including from sports fans. King cited an electronic “Kanye is right about the Jews,” that was displayed on the outside of the stadium after a Florida-Georgia college football game in Jacksonville as an example of the hatred seeping into the sports world.
Kraft Plans to Continue to Address the Issue
Kraft also told King that these ads are only the beginning, and he has more planned. He pointed out the fact that Jewish people account for just over 2% of the population, but get more than 57% of the hate crimes in the United States.
“It’s rising. In the late thirties and forties, what was going on in Germany is going on now in America,” Kraft told King. “The Kanye West thing has brought it to a head. Doing this ad was a way to make non-Jewish people understand what’s happening. We need all people, not just Jews, to speak out. When I saw that sign on the [Los Angeles] highway, it turned my stomach. It’s just not good for America. I hope that people who aren’t Jewish understand it’s in their interests, in all of our interests, to preserve the basic values of our country.”