Normally, fans would congratulate a safety for making a great open-field tackle against one of the NFL's elite tight ends. But for the Cardinals' Budda Baker, he was simply reminded of how racist football fans can be.
Right before halftime during this week's contest against the defending NFC champions, the San Francisco 49ers, Baker rushed the flat to hit George Kittle as he was attempting to catch a pass. Because the pass was thrown high and Kittle is significantly taller than the 5'10 defensive back, Baker was forced to bring the tight end down with a low tackle.
Kittle was slow to get up from the hit and it has been reported that the play caused him a sprained knee. Although this is part of the game, some Niners fans used this as an opportunity to hurl racist slurs at Baker. On Monday, Baker shared messages from the @Niner8 Twitter account. In the messages, the user refers to Baker as a "monkey," "n****r," and "slave" for the hit.
The NFL has attempted to take inclusivity seriously. It has painted social justice messages in the end zones and allowed players to display political phrases on their helmets and hats. But these vile messages to Baker—who is one of the best defensive backs in the NFL—along with fans booing the Chiefs and Texans promoting unity proves that it's going to take more than symbolic gestures to end racism.