Posted on November 29, 2023

NFL Fan’s ‘Blackface’ at Game Sparks Fight

Nick Mordowanec, Newsweek, November 28, 2023

An NFL fan alleged by some to be in “blackface” during a recent game has drawn both scrutiny and support.

A shot of the young fan was seen during Sunday’s CBS broadcast of a game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Las Vegas Raiders. The Chiefs fan was wearing a Native American headdress and had his face painted half-black and half-red.

In recent years, the league has faced criticism by both ardent and casual fans and observers because of issues related to social justice and “cancel culture,” including promises made by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and other officials for the league to become a conduit for broader change. Slogans like “Stop Racism” have appeared on helmets and in NFL end zones, and some players drew widespread attention—even from former President Donald Trump—for kneeling during the national anthem.

Part of that criticism was answered by the NFL’s Washington franchise dropping its “Redskins” moniker in 2020 because of heightened allegations of systemic racism in American society following the killing of George Floyd in police custody. The longtime team name was viewed by some as disparaging.


Journalist Carron Phillips wrote in the sports blog Deadspin that the footage of the young Chiefs fan must be rebuked by both the Chiefs organization and the NFL, saying that both Native Americans and African Americans were “disrespected at once.”


“The answers to all of those questions lead back to the NFL,” Phillips wrote. “While it isn’t the league’s responsibility to stop racism and hate from being taught in the home, they are a league that has relentlessly participated in prejudice. If the NFL had outlawed the chop at Chiefs games and been more aggressive in changing the team’s name, then we wouldn’t be here.

“There’s no place for a franchise to be called the ‘Chiefs’ in a league that’s already eradicated ‘Redskins,'” Phillips said.

The photo used in Phillips’ piece was initially posted on X (formerly Twitter) by Yahoo sportswriter Charles McDonald, alongside a caption reading, “This Chiefs fan is totally having a normal one.” The image shows only the black side of the face paint.


Sheila Steinmark, a marketing expert and CEO of the company MOGXP, told Newsweek that Phillips’ piece and the viral picture showing only one side of the fan’s face may have been intentional to create a narrative.

“When you start looking and you’re only seeing only one side of [the face] and [Phillips] is pushing it as a racist face, I mean, it’s literally a child there to support his team,” Steinmark said. “I don’t think there was any ill intent. {snip}”


The community note on Phillips’ post reads: “This Deadspin’s author failed to provide full context of the photo presented in the article, which is a boy wearing face paint of which the two colors (black and red) represent the Kansas City Chiefs NFL team.”

Even X owner Elon Musk chimed in, saying the note again “exposed deception” in the media. {snip}

Phillips maintained his stance in his post, writing, “Y’all are the ones who hate Mexicans but wear sombreros on Cinco.”