Without question Colin Kaepernick was a polarizing figure in the NFL last year with his silent protest, kneeling down during the National Anthem. During a post-game interview, he explained his position stating, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Throughout history sports has used as a platform to speak out on race relations in America. Kaepernick’s protest sharply divided the public, some for it and others against it. A few players followed in Kaepernick’s footsteps. Kaepernick was voted the “most disliked” player in the NFL. A few people posted videos of them burning Kaepernick jerseys. Former NFL MVP Boomer Esiason called Kaepernick’s actions “an embarrassment” while an anonymous NFL executive called Kaepernick “a traitor”.
Colin Kaepernick did not do this for media attention for himself and his actions proved that. During a postgame news conference in September 2016, Kaepernick pledged to donate $1 million to different organizations of his choice.
“I will donate $1 million plus all the proceeds of my jersey sales from the 2016 season to organizations working in oppressed communities — $100,000 a month for 10 months,” he said.
So far, $200,000 of the $1 million has been allocated. In October 2016, Kaepernick dished out gifts of $25,000 each to the Silicon Valley De-Bug, Causa Justa/Just Cause, Urban Underground and Mothers Against Police Brutality. In November, in addition to his gift of $25,000 to the BYP100, he donated equal amounts to Gathering For Justice/ Justice League, Communities United for Police Reform and the I Will Not Die Young Campaign.
Colin Kaepernick protest has come with consequences as he opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers he has not to be signed to another team for the upcoming 2017 season.
Some executives have tried to use the scapegoat that his skills have declined or he would be a distraction. His skills have regressed some over the last few years, but not to the point where he could not be a serviceable backup or a starting quarterback for teams that desperately need one.
He started 11 games last season, completing 196 of his 331 passes for 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions, and he added 69 runs for 468 yards and two touchdowns. Kaepernick did this playing for former head coach Chip Kelly whose system has failed in the NFL for two teams.
The 32 NFL teams are owned by mostly conservative republican and white male owners. Some of these owners are close friends or donated to President Donald Trump’s campaign. This is the same league that had to implement the “Rooney Rule” in 2003. Its purpose was to ensure that minority coaches, especially African Americans, would be considered for high-level coaching positions. Even with this rule African Americans are still passed up for coaching positions or on short leash.
This is the same league where you can only find two high level black executives in the front office (Raiders, Giants). Diversity is lacking on the sidelines and the front office in a league that is 75% black. It has been easier for former white players with no executive experience to be hired for front office positions (John Lynch, San Francisco 49ers).
Also this is the same league that has history of giving domestic abusers, convicted felons, and drug abusers second and third chances.
Without a doubt Colin Kaepernick is getting a raw deal. If career backups such as Mike Glennon can sign a deal that includes a guaranteed $18.5 million over three years for the Chicago Bears, there is no reason why Kaepernick who is clearly better should not be signed by now.
African Americans love this game of football. We watch the games, tail gate, attend the games, and buy the merchandise. Is it time to show the NFL we are more than just pawns on the field and spend our money and time some where else.
African Americans should be tired of the disrespect, as have we helped make the this league the most popular sport in the USA. Owners have repeatedly denied us high profile coaching positions when we were clearly qualified or front office positions.
The Colin Kaepernick reeks of collusion by the NFL. He deserves a chance, black coaches, deserve better opportunities, aspiring black executives deserve better opportunities.
Kaepernick did not physically harm anyone on or off the field, he just used the NFL to raise awareness about social injustices happening in the black community.