Understand the Big Game Before the Big Game: Watch “Behind the Shield” for Free All this Week

More than 100 million viewers are expected to tune into the Super Bowl this Sunday night to see the Kansas City Chiefs play the Philadelphia Eagles. But as in years past, this enormous audience will see lot more than just football and a bunch of high-priced ads.

Over time, the Super Bowl, like the multibillion-dollar NFL brand itself, has morphed into an unrivaled ratings juggernaut and mass spectacle rife not only with commercial messaging but also political messaging — exerting a powerful influence on American public attitudes about everything from patriotism, nationalism, and war, to violence, systemic racism, and corporate power.

That’s why we’re making our bestselling film Behind the Shield: The Power and Politics of the NFL, featuring hard-hitting sports journalist Dave Zirin, free to watch from now until the Super Bowl kicks off Sunday night.

In the film, Zirin takes us on a rollicking tour of the good, the bad, and the ugly of the NFL’s decades-long PR and propaganda efforts, exposing devastating truths the league would rather keep under wraps as the Big Game approaches.

“Whether we’re football fans or not, or even sports fans,” Zirin says in the film, “we all have a stake in understanding just how powerful the NFL has become as a cultural and political force in this country.”

Watch it for free now, spread the word and join the conversation online! Click the tweet or the Facebook post below to share:

NOTE: If you’re an educator, just a reminder that the film is also available for your classes on Kanopy. You can see if your university has access to Kanopy here.

“Behind the Shield is about so much more than football – it is about us and where we are as a nation and what lies ahead. If you love football, watch this film. If you care about justice, watch this film!”
— Eddie S. Glaude Jr. | Head of African American Studies at Princeton University”Behind the Shield  is terrifying and brilliant. After watching it, I now believe that you cannot understand this country without understanding NFL football. I will be showing this film in my classes FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.”
— Robin D.G. Kelley | Professor and Chair of History, UCLA“Behind the Shield convincingly demonstrates that football is indeed the most American sport, then deftly deconstructs just what that Americanness implies. There is the brutality of racism, violence, militarism, and hypermasculinity, but also the courageous resistance and unyielding commitment of those who love America enough to, as James Baldwin wrote, ‘insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.’”
— Melissa Harris-Perry | The Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University

“Dave Zirin is one of the foremost thought leaders on the intersection between sports, race, and politics. In Behind the Shield, his thoughtful critiques of the most powerful brand in sports are both necessary and patriotic.”
— Jemele Hill | Sports Journalist, Contributing Writer, The Atlantic

“You may not care about football—but [this] riveting documentary reminds us that we have a stake in understanding how powerful the NFL is in shaping our country, culture, and politics. A must-watch.”
— Katrina vanden Heuvel | Editorial Director & Publisher, The Nation

“A provocative, eye-opening documentary that upends conventional wisdom. You may not agree with everything in [this film]. But it will compel you to ponder, deeply.”
— Ken Auletta | Media Critic for The New Yorker

“Provocative and unflinching, Behind the Shield is not just about the NFL, but about who we are as Americans. This documentary is long overdue.”
— Julie DiCaro | Sports Journalist, Author, Sidelined: Sports, Culture & Being a Woman in America

“Outstanding! Exposes the heart of the menacing partnership between the NFL and the military-industrial complex. Watch this documentary, and then share it. The stakes are too high not to.”
— Rory Fanning | Author, Former U.S. Army Ranger who served with Pat Tillman in Afghanistan

“An exceptional expose of why American football fans’ and the NFL’s demand that we shouldn’t insert ‘politics in sports’ is itself so political. A must-watch.”
— Soraya Chemaly | Author, Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger

Behind the Shield offers a stark portrait that compels viewers to consider the power, pitfalls, and possibilities of the NFL’s continued cultural impact.”
— Amira Rose Davis | Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas-Austin, Co-host of the “Burn it All Down” podcast

“An indispensable educational resource for our perilous political times. Whether you love professional football or hate it, if you want your students to understand how the sports/entertainment industry shapes dominant ideology, this film is your new best friend.”
— Jackson Katz, Ph.D. | Author, Creator of the award-winning Tough Guise video serie

“Don’t miss this grand documentary!! David Zirin is the most brilliant and courageous sports intellectual in America!”
— Dr. Cornel West | Author, Race Matters