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Bucs owner Ed Glazer’s fundraiser for Trump is blatant hypocrisy

The political motives of players are always under scrutiny. The owners? Almost never.

When NFL owners mounted a public defense against President Donald Trump for referring to their players as “sons of b—-es” and suggesting those who protested during the national anthem be fired, there was brief optimism that perhaps the NFL brass was beginning to understand why it was so important for some players to take a stand against racial injustice and inequality.

The optimism, however, was short-lived. A few weeks after owners and players locked arms to show solidarity after being attacked by the president, the owners and players met in an effort to clear the air and reach some common ground over the protests. The owners wanted the players to pipe down when it came to politics. Come to find out, it was more of a do as I say, not as I do, kind of thing.

“What we are trying to stay out of is politics,” NFL commissioner Goodell told reporters a day after the meeting, which also coincided with another Twitter tirade from the president about the NFL being soft for not forcing players to stand for the anthem.

See, the league actually does want to be involved in politics. At least, some NFL owners do.

On Tuesday, Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Ed Glazer hosted a campaign fundraising event for Trump at his lavish Beverly Hills, California, home. Attendees paid between $35,000 and $250,000 to attend, with the goal reportedly being to raise $5 million for Trump’s re-election campaign.

Now this isn’t the first time Glazer, whose family also owns Manchester United, has thrown his financial resources behind Trump. He donated $98,000 to Trump’s 2016 campaign and gave another $250,000 toward the president’s inauguration.

For the record, I don’t have an issue with Glazer supporting Trump, financially or otherwise. It’s his house. It’s his money. It’s his financial network.

But let’s call this what it is – blatant, unadulterated hypocrisy.

Let’s circle back to that October meeting. The owners seemed to be convinced that the players’ political outspokenness – though I would strongly argue that speaking out against racial injustice and inequality is a matter of morality and not politics – was harmful to the league’s bottom line.

They universally seemed to agree the protests were bad for business. Too disconcerting for fans. Too political. Too divisive.

But throwing a luxurious fundraiser for the president who slandered your players, and continually takes shots at your league?

All good.

Why is that Glazer’s financial support of Trump isn’t considered as detrimental to the league’s bottom line as the protests, especially when plenty of fans have said they didn’t watch the NFL last season because of how the league has handled the player protests, specifically as it relates to Colin Kaepernick?

The political motives of players always are under scrutiny. The owners? Almost never.

We have two sets of rules here, one for owners and one for players. Players who speak up about important societal issues or engage in the politics are often told to just concentrate on sports, as if they aren’t allowed an identity beyond the sport they play. As if someone else has the right to tell them when they can behave as citizens of this country.

Remember the words of Houston Texans owner Bob McNair at the meeting: “We can’t have the inmates running the prison.”

McNair later apologized for what he said, but the message was sent loud and clear. The only people allowed to express political views are the owners.

That’s the benefit of enormous wealth. It means making up the rules as you go along and rarely having to explain yourself.

But let’s look at the broader picture here. A lot of the opposition to the player protests has come from owners who have financially supported Trump’s presidential campaign – Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, for example. Jones was one of at least seven owners who gave $1 million to Trump’s inauguration and with the NFL owners set to discuss whether players should be required to stand for the national anthem at league meetings later this month, you have to wonder how some of these financial ties to Trump will influence the outcome of those conversations.

Now to be fair, we don’t know exactly where Glazer stands when it comes to the anthem. The Bucs said Friday that Glazer would have no additional comment. All we know is that the Bucs took an evenhanded approach when wide receivers Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson protested during the anthem. Evans twice took a knee, once to protest Trump being elected president – he apologized a few days later – and then again after Trump’s disparaging remarks about the players.

The Bucs were among a number of NFL teams that released a statement following Trump’s absurd comments at the Alabama rally. They didn’t condemn the players but they didn’t exactly lay it on the line for them, either.

“As we have stated previously, the Buccaneers recognize every individual’s constitutional right to freedom, which is crucial to the American way of life that we cherish,” Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer said. “We are equally committed to the principles of inclusivity and respect for differing points of view that should be afforded all Americans.”

That ranks right up there with thoughts and prayers.

As much as the NFL will insist that their concerns about the player protests are about business, it also is about politics. Just remember that when it comes to people in power, what they say is not nearly as important as whom they write a check to.

Jemele Hill is a Senior Correspondent and Columnist for ESPN and The Undefeated.