Why Did AP Think Hall of Fame Speeches Were 'Political,' Not 'Godtalk'?

Terry Mattingly at Get Religion was a little stunned at coverage of the latest additions to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, at how they seemed allergic to any mention of religious content -- and there was a lot of religious content. 

In his paper in Knoxville, Tennessee, Mattingly found an Associated Press story headlined: "Hall of Fame speeches get political." That was a shorter version of the AP's own headline: "Hall of Fame speeches get political in Canton, Chattanooga."

Ah come on. Yes, there was obvious political implications to many of the remarks. I get that.

But several of the speakers packed their speeches with so much Godtalk that I thought the NFL police were going to have to rush in to prevent them from ending with an altar call. Many of the most striking remarks, in terms of politics, were mixed with religious content. I mean, Lewis – in a plea for safer schools – even talked about prayer in American schools.

This was a classic example of one of GetReligion's major themes: "Politics is real. Religion? Not so much." 

This happens in part because reporters are either (a) not religious, or (b) afraid that this is not a subject for "fact-based" news coverage. As for facts, I can't figure out how the "speeches got political" when Randy Moss was political by wearing names on a tie, not in a speech. 

CANTON, Ohio (AP) -- Just as the demonstrations of players during the national anthem have become a means of expression for NFL players, the stage at the Hall of Fame inductions often turns into a political platform. It certainly did Saturday night.

Ray Lewis did so with his words, and Randy Moss with his tie....

“Our country needs real leaders,” Lewis said. “We need people that are willing to step up and take action. We need people willing to fight for what is good and what is right.

“How do we react to challenges in our country right now? Think about this,” he added, looking around at his fellow Hall of Famers. “We can go from being legends to building a legacy bigger than football, bigger than sports. I want us to work together to really take on these challenges, to look at our goals and what unites us. Surely, there is something.”

While he never specifically mentioned anyone or any political party, Lewis delivered a message about unity that stretched far beyond the football field.

Why is this talk about a "bigger legacy" automatically lead to a "political party"? See the Ray Lewis transcript, touting his family as "prayer warriors."

Mattingly asked: "Was there anyone in the editing chain for this news report who has ever attended a black church and heard a preacher take flight with – metaphorically speaking – a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other?"


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