Seattle Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin spoke about racism in the NFL with SI's Greg Bishop and Michael McNight for their special report "Football in America," and he said some people treat the league like an institution of slavery.
“I don’t know how to put this, but to some people the NFL is basically modern-day slavery,” Baldwin said. “Don’t get me wrong, we get paid a lot of money. There’s a sense of ‘shut up and play,’ that this is entertainment for other people. Then, when we go out in public we’re like zoo animals. We’re not human beings. I can’t go to the grocery store and just buy groceries like a normal person. It becomes an issue, a burden and so. . . I haven’t checked my mail in a while.”
Baldwin shared this sentiment after revealing some of the hateful, racist messages he has received on social media, including one calling him the N-word and another suggesting he "move back to Africa." Baldwin is from Florida.
“I don’t want to overstate or oversimplify but this is our modern-day issue,” Baldwin says. “It’s all so pertinent right now, because you’ve got the election, you’ve got issues between police officers and their community, you have all these stories coming out, all these things coming to light. It’s a good thing, obviously. But it’s like when you rip off a Band-Aid. That s--- hurts. Sometimes you’re still bleeding a little bit. But that’s how you start the healing process.”
Baldwin has received death threats for his public criticism of police in the wake of police shootings.
The full story, which seeks to understand how America really feels about football, is the longest and most comprehensive football piece ever published by Sports Illustrated.