A jovial radio conversation with Sean “Diddy” Combs and his son quickly turned serious when the hip-hop icon was asked about the NFL’s new national anthem policy.
It’s a topic that’s close to home after Diddy was in the running for assuming ownership of the Panthers, which ultimately went to winning bidder and hedge fund manager David Tepper for roughly $2.2 billion. Diddy, though an NFL fan, said he has no plans to repeat the process with another team after the league announced a rule change in which players would be fined if they did not stand for the national anthem this season. They also have the option of staying in the locker room during the song.
“I was one of the two last bids for the Panthers,” Diddy said during an interview with BigBoyTV on Thursday, followed by a drawn-out sigh. “Man, I really wanted to go in there and be a part of the NFL and try to be a positive change. This last move, though, I don’t even want to own an NFL team no more.
“I don’t want to be associated with oppressing black men. I don’t want to be associated with telling grown-ass men what they can do and cannot do.”
Diddy’s reaction to the policy echoes the feelings of a number of NFL players who have spoken out against the league’s handling of the protests, which started with now-inactive quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the anthem in 2016 as a protest against racial injustice in America. The prevailing sentiment among those who disagree with the policy is that it will continue to divide the league.
The controversy reared its ugly head again this week when President Trump uninvited the Super Bowl-champion Eagles from their celebratory visit to the White House after most players refused to attend. The president instead hosted Tuesday’s ceremony with just fans to “honor our great country, pay tribute to the heroes who fight to protect it, and loudly and proudly play the National Anthem,” the White House said in a statement.
Despite the recent divisive incidents, Diddy offered optimism. The 48-year-old said he would support the players who continue to protest, referencing Muhammad Ali’s stand against the Vietnam War draft and Jim Brown’s civil rights activism in their time.
“All the NFL players, they’re in a messed-up position, but this is a defining time,” Diddy said, “and if Ali and them was able to do it and Jim Brown was able to do it, if ya’ll stick together, they can’t break you. So I’m just at a point where my feelings are hurt ’cause I’m such an NFL fan … and I hope they do what they have to do to fix it and I hope that they re-engage my dream to [own a team].
“Because, if not, I don’t want to be associated at a roundtable that actually even does that to people at all.”