Rosemary Sekora is the publicity manager at UNP and proudly wears Nike soccer cleats.
Soon after the launch of Nike’s new ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick, the Washington Post published an article by Jesse Berrett reminding us that history does in fact repeat itself.
Barrett draws attention to the story of Dave Meggyesy who had been an outside linebacker with the St. Louis Cardinals for seven years. In 1970, he decided to retire from the game and blow the whistle on the negative aspects of the NFL—the fraud and the payoffs, the racism, drug abuse, and violence. Through interviews and the publication of a book called Out of Their League, he brought attention to what he felt was flawed organization.
(Before retirement and the book, Meggyesy protested a mandated policy from the NFL regarding the national anthem in 1968—because of the Vietnam War.)
The Washington Post article goes on to say that the NFL ignored him at first and then after Meggyesy “appeared on ‘Dick Cavett’ and other talk shows, and in Look, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and Business Week, [Pete] Rozelle launched an offensive to defend the NFL’s image.”
Barrett continues, “And it worked. Meggyesy was silenced and completely ostracized from football for three decades.” The NFL might have gotten its way at the time but more importantly (at least in relation to this blog post) the book that Meggyesy wrote is one of Sports Illustrated‘s Top 100 Sports Books of All Time. Bison Books re-issued the paperback edition in 2005 with a new preface from the author. And I’m writing about it right now.
This summer, the LA Times also took note of Meggyesy’s story in an article titled, “1968: Long before Colin Kaepernick, David Meggyesy began NFL national anthem protest.”
Oh—and so did the Nation, the New Yorker, and the Chicago Tribune (twice) and those were all published in 2018.
Maybe it’s not as viral as a Nike commercial but it has continued to make an impact even almost fifty years later.
So while Meggyesy’s NFL career ended, his story won’t.