Why The Dallas Cowboys' New Coffee Sponsorship Is Causing Controversy

In the wake of a string of devastating mass shootings across America, one of the NFL's most prominent teams is facing backlash for an ill-timed partnership with a pro-gun brand.

Just one day after the latest high-profile shooting at a 4th of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois left seven dead, the Dallas Cowboys unveiled a prominent new partnership with Black Rifle Coffee Company, a gun-themed ground coffee company founded by former U.S. Army Green Beret Evan Hafer (via Fort Worth Star-Telegram).

The veteran-owned company, which carries coffee roasts in flavors like "Thin Blue Line," "Coffee, Or Die," "Freedom Fuel," "AK-47," and "Murdered Out," has attempted to distance itself from right-wing extremists despite its hyper-patriotic branding (via Military.com). However, in the past, the company has been linked to Kyle Rittenhouse (the conservative 17-year-old who fatally shot two protestors at a racial injustice protest) and has been widely embraced by the MAGA community.

Despite attempts to deny any relationship with Rittenhouse and decry alt-right values, the proudly pro-gun company openly adheres to conservative values, with a stated goal of serving "coffee and culture to people who love America," and "supporting veterans, law enforcement, and first responders" with every bag of coffee sold.

In a July 5 post shared on Twitter, the Dallas Cowboys unveiled their Black Rifle sponsorship, writing, "[Cowboys Nation], please welcome America's Coffee to America's Team." Right away, online critics were quick to condemn the football team's partnership with the gun-themed coffee company.

The veteran-owned coffee company was a controversial partnership pick for the Dallas Cowboys

Sports writer Jon Helmkamp called out the Cowboys for the poorly timed announcement, which comes mere weeks after a deadly shooting in Uvalde, Texas took the lives of 21 victims, including 19 young children. "This was literally [six] weeks ago IN YOUR STATE, and there was a mass shooting YESTERDAY," he wrote on Twitter, citing a tweet posted to the Dallas Cowboys' account following the Uvalde shooting, which read, "The entire Dallas Cowboys organization grieves alongside the community of Uvalde and all of those affected by today's tragic event."

Kabir Akhtar also criticized the timing, posting an image of the coffee company's gun-themed roasts and writing, "Just 18 hours after multiple mass shootings on Independence Day, and just weeks after a bunch of kids were shot to death at a school in your state, you're partnering with this?"

Other disappointed Cowboys fans responded to the post with comments like, "The Dallas Cowboys just lost one of their biggest fans. Integrity matters," and, "You make it very hard to be a fan of this organization." However, some Cowboys die-hards came to the team's defense, with one person saying, "I feel a bunch of you people just read the name of the coffee and got mad over the name of it and don't even know anything about the brand! It's a veteran owned company." 

Despite the public outcry, there has been no indication from the Cowboys that the team plans on changing course on the controversial partnership.