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USA TODAY Sports
Nick Bosa’s lack of conviction is far more bothersome than his political leanings.
The defensive end could still end up as the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft Thursday night. More likely, though, the Arizona Cardinals will take Kyler Murray and Bosa will go to the San Francisco 49ers.
Which is where the politics come in.
Bosa is unabashedly conservative in his views. He has praised President Donald Trump, and retweeted posts celebrating the administration’s achievements. He has criticized Colin Kaepernick, calling him a “clown.”
But Bosa has deleted most of those posts and toned down his opinions in recent weeks, to the point where he almost seems to not think or care about anything besides sports, his family and his favorite band.
“I had to,” Bosa told ESPN.com in a story published this month. “There is a chance I might end up in San Francisco.”
And therein lies the problem.
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Let’s set aside the sheer pointlessness of his efforts, given that anything said or done on the Internet never goes away. Bosa is probably correct in thinking his right-wing views wouldn’t go over well in San Francisco, one of the most liberal areas in the country. He is probably also right in fearing that some 49ers fans wouldn’t embrace him because of it.
But that shouldn’t matter. Not if what Bosa has posted – and likely said in conversations with friends and family – is what he actually believes.
I’m not talking about racist or homophobic posts, mind you. Those are never excusable or defendable, no matter how old or young you are or were. I’m talking posts that showed an affinity for and identification with red-state conservatism.
By deleting his old posts, and acknowledging he’s doing it because he’s concerned about negative reaction, Bosa is signalling he doesn’t have enough faith in his convictions to defend them, or that he’d just rather not admit to having the views he does. Because if he’s taken the time to consider why he believes what he does, he should have no problem explaining that, controversial or disagreeable as the opinions might be.
Or, put another way, if you support someone or something strongly enough to post about it on multiple occasions, then you’d better be ready to own it. Bosa might think Kaepernick is a “clown,” but at least the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback never backed down from what he believes or tried to pretend he didn’t say what he did.
One of the beauties of this country is that we can think what we want – so long as it’s based in fact, of course – and we don’t have to tailor our views to those of our employer or community. Even in these polarized times, we can agree to disagree and find ways to co-exist. It occurs every day in our workplaces, our neighborhoods, even our own families.
Do you really think that every player who plays for the 49ers – or any of the other San Francisco teams, for that matter – is a liberal who advocates for universal health care in his spare time and keeps a stash of reusable grocery bag in the trunk of his Prius? Of course not, just as not everyone who plays for a team in Dallas or Houston is organizing NRA registration drives on his off days.
Our personal beliefs are just that, personal, and Bosa is entitled to his. But as a star athlete, he also has a platform. And with it comes a responsibility to be both authentic and informed, as well as an obligation to own his actions, decisions and, yes, his opinions.
Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.