Jake Bequette is ready for a new chapter in his life.
The former Arkansas football great, who in the last year has become increasingly vocal about issues of politics and sports, on Tuesday did what what starting to seem like a foregone conclusion: officially throw his hat into the political ring.
Now, as a candidate for the U.S. Senate, Bequette joins a legacy of former Arkansas football players who later entered politics including William Fulbright, war hero Maurice “Footsie” Britt and John Boozman, the current U.S. Senator he’s looking to defeat in 2022.
So far, Bequette’s unleashing his campaign against Boozman with the same speed that allowed him to rack up 126 tackles, 23.5 sacks and 31 tackles for loss during his time in the Arkansas football program.
In the below interview, Bequette says he respects Boozman’s more than 20 years of service in “the swamp,” but simply believes “it’s time for a change.”
In November, in the aftermath of the presidential election, Jake Bequette had called the U.S. electoral process a “dumpster fire.”
But the conservative Republican evaded THV11’s direct questions about the Capital riots that former President Donald Trump incited.
In another interview on Tuesday, this time with Fox News, Bequette said that he’s tired of “career politicians” running Washington, alluding to Boozman, who was first elected to the Senate in 2010.
Bequette is ready to step in as a fresh voice of reason.
It helps, too, that the powerful 6’5″ once sacked Tim Tebow, as he references in the kind of campaign announcement video that would make Dwayne Johnson and Ricky Bobby proud:
“When you take the field between the lines here, there’s no politics,” he said.
“There’s no politically correct way to sack the quarterback. It’s just cold, hard truth, forever one to see…. I’m Jake Bequette. I’m no squish career politician.”
It helps, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist John Brummett says, that the 32-year-old Bequette played so recently. He has plenty of video of his evidence with the Hogs and later with the New England Patriots.
Boozman, meanwhile, played for the Razorbacks in the late 1960s. His campaign doesn’t have as much pictorial evidence of his vigor as Bequette’s does.
“There’s not a lot of fresh video of him doing any harm to anybody. Maybe he needs to run across the Senate floor and take down Tommy Tuberville,” Brummett said in an interview on Talk Business & Politics.
As Brummett sees, it Bequette represents the “whole Southern Republican Trump athletic culture” to an extent we haven’t seen fleshed out before. Physically, he may be the perfect candidate in conservative circles, similar to the strapping Will Conway character from “The House of Cards.”
“He’s six-five, he’s a war veteran, and he’s young. He’s got it all,” Brummett said of Bequette. “He’s like Tom Cotton with personality. He’s like Sarah Huckabee [Sanders] with testosterone.”
Sanders, of course, is running for the Arkansas governorship, a seat her father Mike Huckabee once held.
Brummett speculates that poll numbers indicate Arkansans don’t know Boozman that well even though he’s a political veteran.
“I think Bequette, or whoever’s encouraging Bequette, are looking at him and going, ‘Hey with the right kind of money and the right kind of message, you can put him on the defensive. He’s not well-defined himself.'”
That message would entail that somehow Boozman hasn’t been sufficiently allegiant to former president Donald Trump.
“It’s politics in which, suddenly, John Boozman is seen as somehow deficient in his conservative bona fides.”
Watch the entire John Brummett interview with Roby Brock here:
Jake Bequette Talks about History
Bequette has made color blindness and the de-politicization of sports a central theme of his messaging so far.
On Fox News, he’s attacked what he calls “toxic wokeism,” or any gestures that appear to attempt to politicize sports.
“When you play sports, when you’re a member of a team, color doesn’t matter. Race doesn’t matter, ethnicity, background, class, it doesn’t matter. You’re working together,” he said.
“Those are the values that make sports such a prize institution in this country. And it makes me sick to see certain media outlets like ESPN not holding their on-air media personalities accountable.”
In another part, seen below, he shares his vision for a “return to the days where these teams stand united with their hand over their hearts before the games.”
“There really is nothing that makes me proud to be an American and proud to be an athlete like seeing those teams from the past, where every player, regardless of his background, regardless of where he came from, just feel that thrill and that honor of standing for the flag and having a fly over, especially before a big game.”
“I really hope and pray we can get back to that.”
That vision sounds really nice, but it’s not historically accurate.
In the late 1940s, for instance, arch “conservative” Americans tried to politicize sports by roping in Jackie Robinson to testify against the controversial Paul Robeson.
In 1949, Robinson reluctantly appeared as a witness before the House Un-American Activities Committee, a defunct Congressional panel founded by a white supremacist that was meant to ferret out political subversion and supposed Communists.
Robinson didn’t want to publicly air concerns with Robeson and other issues with American society, but he was compelled by conservative forces to do so.
He said his disagreement with Robeson over communism and his own loyalty to the U.S. “doesn’t mean that we’re going to stop fighting race discrimination in this country until we’ve got it all licked,” he said.
“It means that we’re going to fight all the harder because our stake in the future is so big. We can win our fight without the communists and we don’t want their help.”
As weta.org notes, Robinson also drew a distinction between the fight against racial discrimination and communist ideology: “the fact that it is a communist who denounces injustice in the courts, police brutality, and lynching when it happens doesn’t change the truth of his charges.”
He pointed out that racial discrimination is not “a creation of communist imagination.”
Years later, Robinson, a true American hero, became so fed up with the gap between the principles that the American flag was supposed to stand for and the reality that he saw in front of him, that he said he couldn’t bring himself to salute it.
Bequette’s vision of a colorblind American sports history sounds good.
Unfortunately, for the sake of informed public discourse, he’s indulging a fantasy.