Behind the Shield: The Power & Politics of the NFL (2022) (trailer)


Acclaimed journalist Dave Zirin of The Nation magazine tackles the politics of manhood, militarism, nationalism, and race in the NFL, America's most popular and influential sports league.

“Outstanding! Exposes the heart of the menacing partnership between the NFL and the military-industrial complex. Watch this documentary, and then share it. The stakes are too high not to.”
-- Rory Fanning | Author and Former U.S. Army Ranger who served with Pat Tillman in Afghanistan

"Behind the Shield is terrifying and brilliant. After watching it, I now believe that you cannot understand this country without understanding NFL football. I will be showing this film in my classes FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE."
-- Robin D.G. Kelley | Professor and Chair of History, UCLA

“Get your rowdy friends together and watch Behind the Shield — Monday Night Football will never look the same again!”
-- Jesse Hagopian, Co-editor, Black Lives Matter at School

“Don’t miss this grand documentary!! David Zirin is the most brilliant and courageous sports intellectual in America!”
-- Dr. Cornel West | Author, Race Matters

"In America, people have been telling athletes to ‘shut up and play’ forever. But in this doc, Dave Zirin dissects the hypocrisy of that critique. The same NFL that made us walking billboards for every cause it felt fit to support wants to tell those same players to be silent about the issues that impact our lives. Their vision of America is a whitewashed illusion that they don't want muddied by the harsh reality of Black protest. No wonder they call it America's Game. What's more American than that?"
-- Aaron M. Maybin | Former NFL Linebacker | Educator, Artist, Author

In "Behind the Shield," celebrated author and Nation magazine sports editor Dave Zirin tackles the myth that the NFL was somehow free of politics before Colin Kaepernick and other Black NFL players took a knee. Digging deep into the history of the league and navigating a stunning excavation of decades of archival footage and news media, Zirin traces how the NFL, under the guise of “sticking to sports,” has promoted wars, militarism, and nationalism; glorified reactionary ideas about manhood and gender roles; normalized systemic racism, corporate greed, and crony capitalism; and helped vilify challenges to the dominant order as “unpatriotic” and inappropriately “political.” The result is a case study not only in the power of big-time sports to disseminate stealth propaganda and reinforce an increasingly authoritarian status quo, but also the power of athletes to challenge this unjust status quo and model a different, more democratic vision of America.
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