Ties that bind Michael Jackson to the NFL

Millions around the world are mourning the death of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. And no matter what you think of Jackson in his later years, there can be no questioning the social impact he had on America. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, America was at a pivotal crossroad as racial divisions were not only pervasive in the South, but across this great country.

It is a natural phenomena for us to fear what we don’t understand. In this case we’re talking about a divide between African-Americans and Caucasians. The only way any society can get over these concerns is to develop familiarity. Because of the immense talents of Jackson, America and the world got an opportunity to familiarize themselves with a culture they did not understand.

From his appearances on American Bandstand with Dick Clark to the Thriller video which broke the racial logjam at MTV, America became comfortable with black faces. In like manner, the NFL has some patriarchs who have been laid to rest that also played a pivotal role in the diversity of this great nation.

In concert with those events at that time, the NFL was going through a racial metamorphosis under the guidance of Pete Rozelle and Gene Upshaw. These brilliant men forged their version of a contract with America to show that it did not matter whether a person was black, white, purple or green, we are all just Americans.

What say you?

— Jamie Dukes

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