By now, the NFL season is in full-swing. All 32 teams have reported for training camp and the first preseason games are just days away. For NFL fans, Christmas is truly right around the corner and for non-football fans, Sunday’s at 1:00 p.m. are going to be a time to avoid the TV again for the next twenty weeks. However, this preseason is profoundly odd for one person in particular. That person, of course, is Colin Kaepernick.
For those who don’t watch football, Colin is a 29 year old quarterback who’s played with the San Francisco 49ers since 2011. He’s made the playoffs twice as a starter, leading his team to a Super Bowl loss against the Baltimore Ravens in 2013. Colin’s ability to both throw and run with the football has made him a versatile threat around the league where he’s scored 85 total touchdowns to just 30 interceptions in 69 games. Translation: he’s pretty good.
And while Colin is not one of the best quarterback’s in the league, he is still good enough to land a job. But right now he’s at home, still waiting for that phone call. While it does make sense for some of the league’s 32 teams to not add him to their rosters for football related reasons, there are at least a handful of teams that would become significantly better with Colin on their team. But why isn’t he signed? Many believe that he’s being blackballed by many of the rich white owners and executives of the league for his protests last year.
When Colin took a knee during the national anthem of games last year to protest the killing of unarmed black men by police, the NFL fandom became divided between those who agree with him and applaud him for using his platform to speak up, and those disagreed with him or thought he should’ve stayed silent. Everywhere he and his 49ers teammates travelled he was subjected to hatred. But it didn’t stop Colin. His teammates awarded him the Len Eshmont Award for his courage, he launched a “Know Your Rights,” campaign, and even donated clothes and shoes to the homeless, all while continuing to speak up.
He was a model player. Even if people did not agree with his views, the extracurricular projects he worked on, coinciding with his 16 touchdowns and 4 interceptions he put up in the prime of his career last season, was still not enough to even sign him to a backup job. Even Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, someone who’s butted heads with Kaepernick in years prior, listed quarterbacks who have jobs yet have performed poorly compared to Colin.
This is what white privilege is. This is what racism is. This is what oppression is. Shutting out people because you disagree with them is a danger to democracy. And that’s what all the owners who oppose him are doing. If we can’t tolerate someone taking a knee and scream patriotic chauvinism and the military to justify ourselves, we go nowhere. Colin is a hero, and the only way to make sure this hero continues to have the ability to speak out and use his platform for good is to support him. NFL fan or not, if you believe in racial equality, you need to believe in Colin Kaepernick.
This league has had problems with domestic violence and has let convicted assaulters like Grey Hardy, Josh Brown, and Ray Rice continue to play and make millions. But if this league is going to draw the line when someone comes forward, takes a knee, and says that innocent black people are being killed and oppressed, then they are setting a dangerous precedent. If this is the message they want to send to the children that watch this sport, they are setting a dangerous precedent. But anything to protect their precious Sunday’s, right?