As Coronavirus Spreads, Should Saints and Other NFL Stars Stay “Politically Correct”?

Photo courtesy of the New Orleans Saints, YouTube

“Politically correct”. It’s a phrase used to describe someone who often tries to be extremely careful not to offend or upset any group of people in society that have a disadvantage or get treated differently because of their sex, race, or disability.

And as the current coronavirus health crisis continues to spread throughout the entire nation, unfortunately it’s also become a situation that now is creating further division among the American populace.

Among those that see the rapidly-expanding and potentially-life-threatening sickness from a political standpoint are a handful of college and professional athletes throughout the sports world, many of them who have a wide variety of different viewpoints and opinions — with 4th year New Orleans Saints All-Pro wide receiver Michael Thomas being one of them.

As a direct result, that’s drawn some rather harsh criticism from fans who feel that the views of those athletes are better-suited to remain unspoken, with the accompanying prevailing notion that they should simply just “stick to sports”.

However, the question needs to be asked: should big-time star athletes such as Thomas essentially be forced to remain silent about critical situations such as the coronavirus, to avoid engendering more political ‘divisiveness”? Or should they be allowed to freely express themselves and speak out against the recent revelations of inaction and presumed failure by the current administration in power?

Photo by: Chris Taylor,

That answer very likely depends upon your very own personal point of view, and a view that undoubtedly is shaped by our collective fear (and uncertainty) of the unknown; and how our lives will ultimately be impacted by the ongoing crisis.

Clearly Thomas is one of those athletes that feel the Trump Administration has proverbially “dropped the ball” in their response, and he hasn’t been shy at all in verbalizing those thoughts on Social Media. This past Wednesday night, the Saints superstar posted a strongly-worded tweet on Twitter that took direct aim at Trump and his supporters.

“Y’all fell for that MAGA, [“poop” emoji] joke’s on you now,” Thomas tweeted.

Prior to posting the Wednesday night tweet which criticized Trump and his supporters directly, Thomas previously before that had retweeted a clip from Vox journalist Aaron Rupar. In that particular tweet, Rupar posted a video which showed Trump dismissing the ever-growing chorus of criticism (and in some instances outright opposition) regarding his handling of the worsening situation.

Not surprisingly, Thomas’ take on the situation wasn’t viewed favorably by the portion of Saints fans whom either are devoted Trump supporters; or who feel that the team’s players (as well as other NFL players and sports stars) should refrain from “mixing sports with politics”.

However, the League’s top-rated wide receiver and 3-time Pro Bowl selection remained unfazed by the ‘brush back’ that subsequently ensued with the corresponding comments on his tweet, and very clearly isn’t afraid to let everyone know (regardless of whoever agrees with him or not) exactly how he personally feels about the entire ordeal.

And to be totally honest: Thomas shouldn’t feel the need to seek anyone’s approval — whether they like it or not.

Photo by: Chris Taylor,

Several months ago, a poll taken among sports fans across the nation revealed that a majority (65%) of them feel that it’s acceptable for professional athletes to speak out publicly about political issues, and relatively only a few of them (35%) said that they considered it to be an important issue.

That same poll was conducted at a time when the average American sports fan has since become very opinionated on political issues which range in scope from racial injustice and inequality, NFL players refusing to stand for the national anthem.  and members of championship-winning teams declining to visit the White House because of their notable differences of political ideology, with President Trump.

Nevertheless, while the prevailing thought among some fans is that players such as Thomas shouldn’t be putting his political musings on Social Media for all to see, Thomas has EVERY RIGHT to say whatever he wants; in spite of the fact that some fans (particularly those fans in the ‘Who Dat Nation’) will view his thoughts as “inappropriate”.

What’s truly inappropriate is for fans to believe that the 27-year old former Ohio State University star, who last year set the NFL record for catches (149 of them, to be exact) in a single season, somehow should be held to a different standard than the rest of us.

Photo courtesy of the New Orleans Saints on

The idea among some fans who feel that Thomas (or any other college or pro athlete for that matter — such as Thomas’ teammate, Saints  defensive end Marcus Davenport) has a responsibility to stay “politically correct” and basically should keep their mouths shut without the capacity to speak out on a critical matter such as the one that we all face together now, is rather disingenuous at best.

Regardless of whether you’re Black or White, dark-skinned or light-skinned, a Christian or an atheist, Republican or Democrat, a ‘Liberal’ or a ‘Conservative’, we ALL have the right to freely express ourselves; and without the threat of retaliation or shaming someone for their own personal beliefs.

Whether you share the view that Trump and his administration have done as much as they possibly could have given the unusual circumstances, or if you believe instead that they’ve been neglectful and absolutely derelict in their duty to protect the nation from this dreaded disease, isn’t really what’s important at the moment.

What IS important however is that we need to come together collectively as one people, each and every one of us united in the common cause of eradicating this deadly disease, to achieve the eventual goal of returning all of our lives to a sense of normalcy.

That goes for the blue-collar, hard-working Saints fan, just as much as it does for the professional football superstar wearing the Black and Gold who is earning $20 million per season.

As a famous man once said: together we stand as one — but divided, we fall.

In these past several days of increasing panic and uncertainty, those definitely are words of advice that all of us would be wise to live by….

Barry Hirstius is a semi-retired journalist, who has worked as a sports editor and columnist. Barry is a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the Saints while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium. He is the proud Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity. Follow him on Twitter: @BarryHirstius

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