Booger McFarland is an ESPN and SEC Network college football analyst. He also a host for NFL Radio. So it’s fair to say he knows a lot about football.
But to say football is the only thing he knows a lot about? Well, that would be inaccurate.
McFarland, a two-time Super Bowl champion, hasn’t been afraid to weigh in on the fractured relationship between police officers and African Americans. While his take is measured – he believes both sides are at fault to some degree – it can be risky for a sports guy to venture into non-sports topics, especially when those topics are highly polarizing.
McFarland, however, won’t be scared into silence.
“There’s no pressure at all,” the former first-round draft pick said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “I grew up in Winnsboro, Louisiana. Population about 3,500. The good Lord allowed me to come a long way, and I firmly believe to whom much is given, much is expected. Oftentimes what’s expected is just your time on a matter, your time thinking about something, or even your time talking about something. I just say what a lot of people in our community are thinking. People often ask me, ‘Man, sometimes you’re outspoken. How do you come up with things to say?’ I say, ‘Man, listen, I understand what’s going on. I’ve lived in these communities. I grew up on welfare. I understand what it’s like to be in a situation where you’re in an impoverished community and you really don’t know where to turn except sports or except being outside running around having fun or except the community in which you live.’ So I don’t feel any pressure. I just try to say what I know most people are thinking, but for whatever reason, either they don’t know how to say it or they’re embarrassed to say it or they don’t want to be ridiculed for saying it. So no pressure at all, man. Just kind of say what’s out there.
“It goes both ways,” McFarland continued. “That’s why when you look at the relationship between law enforcement and citizens, there’s blame to go around on both parts. Communication goes both ways. I’m a married man. I’ve been married almost 10 years and one of the great lessons I’ve learned about marriage from a lot of guys that have been married 20, 30 years, it’s really simple. It’s communication. Talk, man. Open your mouth and talk. I think when police officers and citizens do these things, you’ll get a lot accomplished.”
McFarland thinks it’s great that other athletes are speaking out about current events. Dialogue can only improve race relations, not hurt them.
“That’s why it’s great that Carmelo Anthony is having these forums,” McFarland said. “It’s great that President Obama has a town-hall meeting. Communication is what drives thought process, and thought process is what drives solutions to a lot of issues that we have in this country.”