Photograph by Jonathan Bachman
Sports and politics rarely mix on a relevant level. Fans nowadays don't really look to athletes for political advice or opinions and there aren't iconic stars like a Muhammed Ali or John Carlos and Tommy Smith to lead the way in terms of political activism.
So when Will Smith appeared in the Saints locker room today wearing an Barack Obama shirt, you could say I was a little bit surprised.
"I'm definitely a Barack Obama supporter," he said. "I think we have a bright future ahead of us as a country."
With the state of the economy being the defining factor of this year's presidential race and with John McCain consistently hammering Obama for raising taxes pro athletes are caught in sort of a limbo. On the one hand, a vast majority of pro athletes come from low-income houses. On the other hand, those days are long gone and now, being in the top 5% of the U.S. population in terms of wealth, a lot of athletes vote on taxes alone. (To wit: the week before the Saints left for London, every player had a piece of paper placed in their lockers that broke down the two presidential candidates' tax plans and "Be careful what you wish for" in handwriting.)
Smith, though, said that there were other issues that he was focused on.
"The reason [taxes] aren't important to me is because I grew up and I didn't really have anything," he said. "My family struggled and I had a family members' mom that was on public service. Somebody was paying it then and if I have to pay a couple more percentages, then so be it."
Despite the fact that it seemed like a subversive political statement (as opposed to Jeremy Shockey's overt statement that consisted of yelling "I want a recount!" as he walked out of the shower), Smith insisted he was just trying to tease some of his teammates.
"I just wore it because a couple of guys are pissed off," he said. "It's been going back and forth but at the end of the day pretty much I think the whole team is happy that Barack got elected. People put the tax issue aside."
Aside from Shockey's proclamation and Jason David playing Obama's rally song "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" there wasn't anyone calling attention to themselves in a political sense. Which, if you ask me, is either a statement that they're scared to say anything (after all, who gets elected matters a bit more than if this team makes the playoffs) or we're not giving them enough credit.
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