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NFL Hall of Famer John Elway has come out in favor of Mitt Romney.

“Governor Romney is a proven leader with the experience and background to turn around our struggling economy,” he said in a released statement.

He also stated, “America needs a comeback team – Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are that team.”

Good for John Elway. I am in no way a fan of Mitt Romney, but it is good to see any professional athlete, retired or otherwise, get involved in politics and the social issues that affect our country.

He has taken some heat for his endorsement and many people say athletes should stay out of politics and keep their opinions to themselves. I say just the opposite.

Elway is a rich man. He owns several car dealerships, a restaurant, and is the Executive Vice President of Football Operations for the Denver Broncos. He probably thinks that he will do better under a Romney Administration. And that’s fine. That is his right as an American citizen.

I just wish more current players would do the same.

They need to be more involved in what is happening to our country. Athletes today seem to be too interested in protecting their “brand” and don’t want to do or say anything that will jeopardize their standing on their team or their livelihood.

How many times have players been ridiculed for voicing their opinion on politics or social issues? Critics usually say something like, “They’re just a bunch of dumb jocks. No one cares what they think. Just shut up and play.”

It’s no wonder that some pro athletes are hesitant to speak their minds.

Professional team owners, on the other hand, have always been able to say what they want without fear of retaliation.  Just recently the owner of the New York Jets, Woody Johnson, said he would rather have Mitt Romney become president than the Jets have a winning season. Can you imagine if Mark Sanchez came out and said he would rather have Barack Obama win than have a winning season? Jets fans and sports writers would go ballistic and Tim Tebow would be starting for the rest of the season.

It’s time to end this double standard. Players shouldn’t be afraid to speak their mind.

While it seems like the days of Muhammad Ali refusing induction into the Vietnam War, Tommie Smith and John Carlos protesting during the 1968 Summer Olympics are all gone, there is a ray of hope.

Recently, Baltimore Raven Brendon Ayanbadejo came out in support of marriage equality. He was quickly criticized by a Maryland State Delegate for taking that stance. Ayanbadejo then received support from fellow NFL player, Chris Kluwe.

It is encouraging to see two players get involved in issues that they care about and stand up to criticism they receive.

After Trayvon Martin was murdered many athletes, most notably the entire Miami Heat basketball team, were photographed wearing hoodies in a show of support to Martin’s family. While wearing a hoodie is not the same as taking on the entire US government against an unjust war, it is a step in the right direction.

We need more of that.

Israel Soliz

Israel is a sports blogger, contributor to GlobalGrind.com and owner of SportsBrosWorld.com

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