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NFL’s Latino Heritage Month logo receives backlash

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The NFL released a special edition logo on Thursday to coincide with the beginning of Latino Heritage Month. The brand added a squiggle of yellow on top of the N of the NFL’s shield to make it appear like an Ñ.

“The league is proud to have a good time Latino Heritage Month by highlighting NFL players, coaches, and staff while partnering with the Hispanic Heritage Foundation and the Hispanic Alliance for Profession Enhancement,” the NFL said in a press release. “We look ahead to continuing collaborations with Latino creators, (artists), and writers.

“We’re here to AMPLIFY THE VOICES of the Latino Community (on) and off the FOOTBALL FIELD.”

The brand is a component of a broader campaign called “Por La Cultura,” which translates to “For the Culture” and incorporates a list of Latino players, coaches and employees on the league’s website, an interview with Reggaeton star J Balvin and an announcement that a collaboration with Mexican streetwear company Chito is coming soon.

As for its explanation of the emblem, the league said: “This shield integrates an unmistakable Latin flavor, is prime to our always-on, 365 day initiative. The electrical brush stroke of the ‘eñe’ is stuffed with an infectious personality that’s carried out through the remainder of the feel and look.”

The shield logo received backlash on Twitter as several asked what form of flavor the league meant? Adobo or jalepeño, perhaps? 

A gif circulated referencing “The Office” where Ryan Howard writes a squiggle on the n of a bottle of lemonade and sets it next to a placard that claims “Mexican Lemonade.”

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Writer Julissa Natzely Arce Raya expressed frustration at how the ñ is not even the proper spelling for “National Football League” translated to Spanish.

“That is embarrassing,” she said on Twitter. “There isn’t a eñe on this planet nacional. We don’t say Eñe F L we are saying NFL.”

Last 12 months, the league commemorated Latinx Heritage Month by doing activations with music superstar Ozuna and honoring youth who were making an impact of their communities. In 2015, Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations included field designs and signage saying “Fútbol Americano,” banners that read “Feel the Orgullo,” folklórico dancers at pregame festivities and a large golden football piñata.

The NFL has recently put emphasis on initiatives to boost awareness for diversity and social justice, especially within the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the worldwide reckoning in 2020 of the necessity to combat racial injustices.

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That 12 months, the league painted “End Racism” and “It Takes All Of Us” ultimately zones, invited players to wear helmet decals honoring victims of racial violence and played the Black national anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing” before every Week 1 game.

Research has shown that the NFL’s Latin fanbase has been increasing. In 2019, a SSRS/Luker on Trends Sports Poll reported that there have been 30.2 million fans of the league in the US, a 5% growth from the previous 12 months and an all-time high.

Despite this, there was a decrease of representation amongst players. The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport reported in 2019 that of the 1,657 players surveyed, only eight identified as Hispanic or Latino, making up 0.5% of the league. Three years earlier, the numbers found 18 players out of two,257, making up 0.8%.

Tom Flores was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium on Aug. 8, 2021. Flores was presented by Raiders owner Mark Davis.

In 2021, Tom Flores, the league’s first Latino head coach and quarterback, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He won 4 Super Bowls between his time as a player, assistant coach and head coach. He was nominated and rejected by the voting committee twice before finally receiving a bust in Canton.

“I’m often not perplexed, but I actually have been in pro football for over 60 years,” Flores told the Los Angeles Times of receiving the honour. “It’s just an honor to be in that room, knowing that you simply’re going to be there perpetually.”

ICEMAN:Raiders legend Tom Flores, trailblazer for Latinos within the NFL, modified sports history

Although his quiet demeanor earned him the nickname “Iceman,” Flores’ impact was larger than words.

“I do take into consideration my influences and what I can do for the following wave, because for me, Tom Flores was that influence,” Washington Football Team coach and former Chicago Bears linebacker Ron Rivera told USA TODAY Sports. “With him, I finally had someone representing my ethnicity.”

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