Column: Black Votes Matter If We Want True Change

By Drew Stevens (@lookwhatdrewdid)

It’s as simple as this, Aaron Rodgers.

If you no longer want any part of an organization whose general manager has begun to dig your grave even as you continue to withstand the rigors of professional quarterbacking with flying colors, then you should most certainly look for a change of scenery. You see how well things are working out for Tom Brady after he ended his longterm relationship with New England, right?

He found greener — and far warmer — pastures in Tampa Bay. Now while it may be tempting to move across country where friendlier climates and your childhood favorite 49ers play, remember, that team blew its chance with you years ago. Besides, the coldest dish of revenge you could serve that bay green and cheese gold-colored front office would be aligning yourself with its sworn enemy, the Chicago Bears.

That’s how you retaliate against Brian Gutekunst, who had the audacity to trade up to select Jordan Love in last year’s NFL Draft, and head coach Matt LaFleur, who was a little too eager to co-sign that move and chose Mason Crosby’s leg, not your invaluable arm, when it mattered most. After all, when you have a chance to really stick it to your ex you don’t date a stranger. You round the bases with the best friend.

Think about it.

Not only would you move from the hallowed ground at Lambeau Field to that at Soldier Field, but you’d also go from being one of the city’s most hated visitors to one of its most beloved residents a la Dennis Rodman.

Plus, you love it here. Or at least that’s what I took from how you talked about the chills you feel before game time listening to both Jim Cornelison belt out the national anthem and Bears fans equally resounding reaction. “Those tingles over the years have made that place a really special environment,” you said in December. “And I do have a lot of respect for the organization, the fan base, their team.”

And we for you, albeit begrudgingly.

But you can’t really blame us for that though, can you? I mean, you did author a 35-16 beat down with your 240 yards and four touchdowns just a few days after speaking so highly of practically all things Chicago. Not to mention that was the 10th victory of your career in the Windy City in the 13 times you’ve played here. Hard feelings are even harder to shake when they’re mixed with the envy of watching your arch-rival swap one hall-of-fame signal caller for another while our carousel of mediocrity at that position continues to turn nonstop.

You can change that. You can rip that ride from its lousy rails. It’ll take some convincing, maybe even a little acting on your part. You’re pretty believable in those State Farm commercials. How good are you at faking or threatening retirement?

As far as compensation goes, tell Gutekunst we can offer the 20th overall pick in this year’s draft and future first-round picks in each of the next two as well. There figures to be a nice crop of blue chip offensive lineman this summer. Something for him to keep in mind given his franchise left tackle, David Bakhtiari, will be playing the rest of his career on a surgically-repaired knee. Also, considering how Kevin King had two touchdowns scored on him and drew a crippling defensive pass interference penalty that essentially robbed you of the chance to play in your second Super Bowl, it seems an upgrade at cornerback is in order. We’ve got a promising one in Jaylon Johnson he might be interested in, too.

If that package doesn’t move him, perhaps we can throw in the tag-and-trade of Allen Robinson. We’d much rather have the two of you here, but if we must sacrifice our most lethal offensive threat then so be it. You’re that special to us. Even today, just a handful of months from beginning your 17th year in the NFL.

Look. Breaking up is hard. There’s no two ways about it. But once you finish sopping up the best comfort food our city has to offer, you’ll adjust. You’ll see that while the sum of the Bears’ current weapons don’t yet compare to that of Davante Adams, Aaron Jones and Robert Tonyan, you’ve had far less to work with in your career than David Montgomery, Cole Kmet and Darnell Mooney.

None of this is to say you’d find the type of immediate success that Brady’s found with the Buccaneers. What it does mean is your arrival would, quite frankly, send an already rabid fanbase over the moon; push our mockery of a front office into credible standing; and our overworked defense into more favorable situations.

If nothing else, how satisfying would it be to flip the league’s oldest rivalry on its head, to force Gutekunst and LaFleur to forever rue the day they chose Love?

In Green Bay you had to escape the shadow of Brett Farve — who, against conventional wisdom, was cast out to the Jets of all teams after reaching near-deity status as a Cheeshead, his association with the Packers being the only one that can rival yours post-Bart Starr. Here, in Chicago, you’d cast a shadow as far as our franchise’s list of starting quarterbacks is long before you even threw your first pass in dark navy and orange.

The offseason is long. Our patience for a player your caliber has been woefully longer.

Just give it some thought.

Ok?

Self-realization is a tough thing to deal with when the world is changing rapidly and you’re not a celebrity, or a billion dollar corporation.

Such profitable entities have pledged untold amounts of financial support to the #BlackLivesMatter movement in the wake of the delayed investigation into the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor in March and the death of George Floyd last month.

In observing this unexpected sea change, spurred on by our society’s increasing disgust for police brutality — and ongoing appeal to the masses for a more secure grasp of the straightforward, yet still somehow misconstrued, concept that Black American lives are significant, too — I’ve had to realize I am, at least in part, responsible for the perpetuation of a system that is in dire need of reform.

As outlined by former president Barack Obama a week after Floyd’s death, our mayors, district attorneys and state’s attorneys — not the commander-in-chief — wield the power to implement long overdue changes to our criminal justice system. As such, it is through the election of these state and local officials that we the people, who are both sickened by recurrent rampant acts of lawlessness carried out by individuals entrusted with our protection and hell-bent on putting an end to the unjust serial killing of black Americans by renegade policemen, can help set in motion the reform we wish to establish.

In what would surely come as both a shocking and disappointing revelation — and, justifiably, worthy of a slap upside my head — to my politically conscious and habitual-exerciser-of-her-right-to-vote mother, I have never cast a ballot other than for that of presidency in nearly 20 years of my own voter eligibility. The sting of that cringeworthy truth burns so much worse when read aloud than when simply left in the form of a thought, especially en lieu of recent events, but how can I be an advocate for change and encourage other people to take advantage of their right to vote, which had been so vigorously fought for by our forefathers, if I only do the same once every four years?

Unfortunately, it seems I am not the only one in need of rescue from his negligible engagement in local races, or federal ones for the matter. In last year’s municipal election of Mayor Lori Lightfoot, only about 32 percent of registered voters — 497,000 out of 1.56 million people — cast a ballot. Up to that point, the lowest voter turnout for a city election was 33% in 2007, when Richard M. Daley captured his sixth and final term. By comparison, in this year’s primary just 28% of registered voters cast ballots, a turnout on par with presidential primaries.

Before Obama’s reassertion of legislative mechanics, which had presumably remained lost in translation since elementary school, I was under the impression that elections that decided who sat in the Oval Office took precedence over those that determined the face of our cities and states, and that the platforms of local and state hopefuls were not as readily accessible as those of presidential candidates.

While all of our obligatory hooting and hollering has not only drawn the curtain back on police brutality, but yanked it completely free from the clutches of those who are content with the status quo. And, while the idea of bringing an abrupt end to systemic oppression may be unrealistic, I understand now that the nails in its coffin cannot be driven in without our participation in local and state elections. Without mobilization to the polls, I fear we will squander the opportunity to exploit this remarkable momentum for change and, in the process, facilitate only a marginal decline in the loss of innocent black lives at the expense of complacency.

I dare to relocate to the side opposite the trifling and hypocritical peanut gallery in an effort to help transform the black lives matter movement into a nationwide principle quicker than the inevitable, but still puzzling, rebuttal of “All lives…”

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