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No "Shut Up And Dribble" For Right Wing Athletes

Michael Patterson via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Over a 12 year career, Bobby Orr provided a platform for defenseman play that is the gold standard in hockey. The photo of Orr flying through the air in front of the net after scoring the Stanley Cup-winning goal in Game 4 of the 1970 Finals for the Boston Bruins is a piece of sports lore.

Meanwhile, former Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre ranks in the top five in a number of important career NFL passing categories including yards, completed passes and touchdown passes. To many, Favre is, like Orr, who also wore the number 4, a part of the pantheon of greats in his sport.

And then there’s Jack Nicklaus, arguably the greatest golfer of all time. The Golden Bear, as he is nicknamed, has won 18 major tournaments a figure that no one – not even Tiger Woods – may ever match. 

Until this past weekend, these three men, besides virtually unparalleled success in their respective sports, appeared to have little in common. But each man declared his support for the re-election of Donald Trump as president. 

And no one should have an issue with that. These are American citizens, all, though Orr was born in Canada. They are entitled to take a stand and to voice that stand to any and all who will hear it.

Nicklaus has business dealings with Trump, and Favre played golf with him a few months ago, but, again, that shouldn’t matter, as people typically line up with those whom they agree with.

Oddly enough, there hasn’t been much comment from conservative media. You know, the folks who have steadily attacked left-leaning athletes who criticized the president. 

You’ll recall Fox prime-time host Laura Ingraham who famously told NBA star LeBron James to quote shut up and dribble unquote after James took Trump to task in a 2018 interview.

Ingraham said she wasn’t interested in hearing political talk from quote someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball unquote. 

Yet, Ingraham, who herself was mocked by Trump last week for wearing a mask, appears to be OK with athletes who throw footballs, hit pucks and sink birdies. 

Trump himself has had no problems with men like Tom Brady and former Denver quarterback John Elway, both conservatives, expressing their views. But the president has been unstinting in his criticism of James and Golden State guard Stephen Curry, dismissing them for taking him on. 

Trump has saved some of his sharpest barbs for NFL players who knelt during the Star Spangled Banner, branding them with obscene epithets.

One could make the case that Trump’s hectoring has kept former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick out of the league for the last three seasons, as team owners, many of whom politically aligned with Trump, have refused to bring Kaepernick in for tryouts, much less a roster spot.

No one should dare hold their politics against Bobby Orr, Brett Favre and Jack Nicklaus. They’ve earned that right. So, too, have LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Colin Kaepernick.

And that’s how I see it for this week. Thanks for listening and enjoy the games.


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Milton Kent hosted the weekly commentary Sports at Large from its creation in 2002 to its finale in July 2013. He has written about sports locally and nationally since 1988, covering the Baltimore Orioles, University of Maryland men's basketball, women's basketball and football, the Washington Wizards, the NBA, men's and women's college basketball and sports media for the Baltimore Sun and AOL Fanhouse. He has covered the World Series, the American and National League Championship Series, the NFL playoffs, the NBA Finals and 17 NCAA men's and women's Final Fours. He currently teaches journalism at Morgan State University.