When the "not guilty" verdict in the Trayvon Martin case was announced Saturday night, dozens of pro athletes took to Twitter to share their shock, anger, sadness and wishes for peace in the aftermath.
That is, unless they were among the richest athletes in sports. From them there was an overwhelming silence.
Of the 100 athletes on Forbes’ list, only Wade and Chris Paul ("WoW!!! Prayers out to the Martin family…") made a clear comment on the case Saturday. Russell Westbrook tweeted "THIS IS NUTS!!! REAL TALK!" and Rudy Gay tweeted "Crazy!!" — but for all we know, he might’ve been talking about Metta World Peace.
That’s it. That’s all the reaction to a case that riveted the nation and left many in tears.
As the verdict sparked debates over race, guns and the justice system, one subject was ignored: the power of the dollar.
Sending out impulsive tweets doesn’t solve anything — and certainly no one is under any moral obligation to do so — but the disparity is striking. It seems the biggest money-making athletes took advice from, of all people, the Jags kicker:
Dear pro athletes- stay off twitter regarding this verdict. Sincerely- you’re welcome
And the ones with the most to lose did. Of course, you could excuse many of them. Guys like Cristiano Ronaldo and Roger Federer can’t be expected to follow American current events, much less comment on them.
But there was nothing from Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James or Drew Brees — four of the top five highest-paid athletes in the world. Woods lives in Florida. James plays there, and even had donned a hoodie with the rest of the Heat to show support for Martin’s cause.
But on Saturday they apparently took a page out of the playbook of Michael Jordan, who was famously apolitical in his most lucrative endorsement days.
While Wade spoke out — perhaps in part because he just put out a book on being a father? — many of his peers stayed silent. Were they worried about their endorsement money?
Chris Bosh ($19.8M in 2013, $2M in endorsements), Wade’s Big Three-mate, apparently was too far away to join the conversation, on an overseas trip. So was Kevin Durant ($30.9M, $14M), in the service of Nike.