Since Kaepernick was just a hair away from a Super Bowl ring in 2013, the athlete-turned-activist has seen his defense retire one-by-one, then his own skills decline, then his starting spot handed to Blaine Gabbert. While things haven’t been easy for the quarterback in identity crisis, you can’t exactly blame the NFL for turning their backs on the jobless kneeler.
In the ESPN owned publication, “The Undefeated,” writer Jason Reid plainly asks if the quarterback (in)famous for taking a knee during the National Anthem can sue the NFL for discrimination.
First and foremost, the very easy explanation of why a Kaepernick lawsuit would bomb spectacularly: the NFL is 70 percent black. Professional football has done more to erase poverty in minority communities than Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society could have ever dreamt of; it would take Johnny Cochran on steroids, with 1,000 “Mark Fuhrman is Hitler” analogies, to possibly come close to proving the NFL is racist.
Second, and most importantly, Kaepernick’s Shaun King-endorsed stunt has done absolutely nothing positive for the NFL’s image and business. Even in ultra-liberal San Francisco, football fans are still football fans.
Jason Whitlock, the original editor-in-chief of The Undefeated, explained on The Rubin Report that it’d be more productive for the brash young stars in college football to be sat down and have a honest lecture over why their sport, football, has resonated with America, and why they’re in demand:
“The reason why you make so much money is because Pete Rozelle (NFL Commissioner 1960-89) and the television networks decided to attach football to patriotism and the military. That’s the way the game is sold…the respect for the military and the flag; they wanted sports fans to feel like the most American thing you can do, besides joining the military, is sit on your ass and watch football…THAT’S why Colin Kaepernick made $14 million, because they were selling that.”
The patriotic sentiment that Whitlock talks about has resonated with generations of football fans, who reacted in droves when they perceived that Kaepernick disrespected of all that is sacred between the goalposts.
A Rasmussen poll taken in October 2016 showed that 32 percent of respondents would be less likely to watch an NFL game because of the protests. In case any critics call Rasmussen out for being too right-wing, E-Poll Marketing Research, after asking 1,100 respondents “representative of the general population” in September, concluded that Kaepernick was the most disliked of any of the 350 players ranked from “disliked a lot” downward. Seton Hall’s sports poll taken that same month revealed that Americans and fans alike respect the 1st Amendment right to freedom of speech, but of the 80 percent that did approve of that right, 47 disagreed with the methodology of not standing and respecting the flag and anthem.
Giants owner John Mara, in an MMQB.com piece, said that while Big Blue never discussed signing Kaepernick, “I never received more emotional mail from people than I did about that issue,” Mara said. “If any of your players ever do that, we are never coming to another Giants game. It wasn’t one or two letters. It was a lot. It’s an emotional, emotional issue for a lot of people, more so than any other issue I’ve run into.”
Sports, as Whitlock also noted with Rubin, is built into a conservative culture dependent on team values, brother/sisterhood, and sportsmanship. It’s not that Cowboys, Falcons, and Titans fans (southern teams) are ignorant rednecks, or that the Seattle Seahawks fans are woke. There would be very similar reaction if Danica Patrick decided to protest the patriarchy and kneel before a NASCAR race. Kaepernick needs to learn that blatant protests, instead of donating to charity or opening up community centers in impoverished areas, simply does not sell.
Jason Reid, in the aforementioned Undefeated piece, asked University of Southern California law professor Jody David Armour if there is any basis for discrimination in this case:
“Some people will say that he isn’t with a team because he hasn’t earned it on the merits, he hasn’t earned it with his performance, not because owners and others have issues with his political positions, but it’s hard to look at statistics on the number of players who have signed contracts who haven’t been to the playoffs, who haven’t been to a Super Bowl and who can’t point to the kind of record that he can point to and say that there isn’t something going on here in the way of a message being sent out in some kind of discrimination.”
She’s absolutely right. It is because the league has issues with his political positions, but that doesn’t make the league racist. They take issue with his political positions because it turns the balance sheet 49er red. Colin Kaepernick is without a job not because of his afro, but because of his pig cop socks, Fidel Castro shirt, and hollow, unpatriotic attitude.