A Sort-Of Victory for Colin Kaepernick

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On Friday it was announced that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and safety Eric Reid settled out of court with the National Football League (NFL) for an undisclosed amount of money.

Kaepernick and Reid had sued the NFL for blackballing them—colluding to keep them unemployed—because in 2016 they kneeled for the U.S. national anthem (“The Star-Spangled Banner”) before NFL football games, to protest police brutality against blacks. Their actions inspired a wave of other protests throughout the league.

Reid eventually signed with the Carolina Panthers, but the more visible Kaepernick is still unemployed in football.

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On the one hand, the settlement is a capitulation: Kaepernick is settling for a lesser heap of cash than he would get if the case had been ruled in his favor. Also, the NFL avoids an admittance of guilt, and the embarrassment of details (revealing emails, harmful testimonies) that would otherwise go public.

Scott Cunningham_Getty Images

Photo: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

On the other hand, “Kap” achieved something rare: he was able to administer a black eye to a multi-billion dollar corporation (unlike fellow NFL QB Tom Brady with Deflategate), and he’ll continue to be an icon and standard bearer of social consciousness in sports. Like boxer Muhammed Ali and Olympic sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos, his stature will only grow in coming years (assuming he steers clear of #MeToo).

Kaepernick has already garnered a multi-year endorsement from Nike, which will only get sweeter. It’s also still possible that a team owner might grow a backbone and sign him to a contract (the Panthers owner, perhaps?).

Beyond this are the damning depositions by league owners Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys) and Stephen Ross (Miami Dolphins), who claimed that a certain pubescent, pontificating president’s meddling forced a cowed NFL into making a rule change: players are now required to stand for the anthem. (longitudes: are clenched fists and bowed heads still permitted, or will prohibition of these gestures also now be added to contracts?)

The president, well-known in reality television circles for his enthusiastic embrace of firing employees, not only went on record urging the firing of players who protest during the anthem, but went so far as threatening a change in “tax law” to penalize teams who don’t crack down. Legal experts are now analyzing possible “government infringement upon players’ First Amendment rights.”

While Herr Donald needs little assistance in damning his own legacy, the NFL’s image has only further eroded with its blackballing and government-dictated rule changes.  It comes after a successful $1 billion suit by former players over concussion-related injuries that the league had, for years, denied…monies which are, reputedly, still unpaid.

Kap, longitudes is with you. Happy President’s Day.

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Photo: Getty Images

11 thoughts on “A Sort-Of Victory for Colin Kaepernick

    • Wow, thanks bud. I’ll return the favor when you publish your coffee table book on Philly truck art. That NH Presidential range was so beautiful, but very demanding. New England hikers seemed to have the attitude “Hey, no big deal.” I felt a bit out of place, but had a lot of fun.

  1. Wish I had a job where I can make millions playing a game, and yet I can violate my contract by making a clumsy political statement while on duty that embarrasses my employer and annoys most of our customers, and then walk away with more millions of dollars in a self-serving legal settlement. The cherry on top is being lionized as an “icon” of social consciousness by fawning progressives.

    Nice work if you can get it.

    • Thanks as always for speaking your mind, Tad. Re “fawning progressives,” of course I could say a few words about hypercritical mock patriots from the right side of the Outrage Machine. As far as the “contract” and “employer” argument, I hear this from conservatives at work. I find it to be a smokescreen. Bottom line, they just don’t like Kap’s cause, nor his manner of protest.

      As far as the “lionization” goes, I don’t include myself in that category. He’s got a ways to go before he reaches the heights of an MLK. But…he’s now an icon, whether he or anyone else wants or doesn’t want him to be. His gesture propelled him into something bigger than himself, and I’m anxious to see how he handles it. So far, I think he’s handling it pretty well.

      Lastly, I think you’re wrong about this being “self-serving” and all about money. Kap has donated over $1 million to charities, and continues to do so. Here’s one article about that, from the capitalist bible, Forbes Magazine: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jerrybarca/2018/02/01/colin-kaepernick-not-stopping-donations-roll-past-1-million/#883343c16684

      • I knew my fawning progressives crack would get your attention. Thanks for squaring me on Kap’s charitable giving.

  2. Hi Peter: I totally get the sentiments of many about ‘brutality against blacks’. It is in the media, and as much as I distrust some of everything I see on TV, the tapes don’t lie. Still, I never understood Kaepernick’s logic in sabotaging the NFL’s showtime some how hoping to effect change. Was the NFL the cause of brutality against blacks? That is a stretch for me. Has the NFL responded somehow with community outreach? Judging by the media, I guess so, but still, why the NFL? Why not local government? Why not the Chamber of Commerce? Why not the Department of Education? Why not the banking community? Why not HUD? That is where the problem lies.

    • Hi Phil. Thanks for weighing in. You use the word “media” here a couple times. My impression is that you’re pointing a sly finger at “liberal media,” the right-wing’s favorite bogeyman, but I could be wrong. I’m not going to go there.

      Kap’s kneeling gesture was not a protest against the NFL. (His court case was to fight their collusion to bar him from his chosen profession, which depositions have authenticated.) His initial protest was against police brutality against blacks, of which there was a rash (including murders) at the time. Perhaps there still is, but cellphones haven’t caught it. He used his national exposure as an NFL player to bring attention to the issue. And it worked, although I’m sure he didn’t expect the backlash and shift in conversation. (Maybe he’s also gone in front of Chambers of Commerce, for all we know?) I see nothing wrong with using one’s celebrity, and television cameras (media) to bring attention to a serious problem. A protest in the locker room, or stadium tunnel, or QB huddle probably wouldn’t go very far. He just chose a sacred cow like the anthem, and that’s enabled a certain segment of Americans to lambast him, and, unfortunately, shift attention away from the REAL issue: murders of blacks by cops.

      This hand-wringing about a football player kneeling during the anthem to protest documented violence against blacks has reached a level of tomfoolery and ridiculousness beyond belief. I continually shake my head at people’s warped priorities in America today.

      Sorry to be so longwinded, but I wanted to adequately respond. Thanks again.

      • Hi Peter! It wasn’t a sly finger at ‘liberal media’. I am an inveterate watcher of network TV. Actually, I never watch Fox; it’s too loud. But I do find that even my favorite news personalities on ABC, NBC, CBS, have a subtle smirk in their speech, a righteousness, and a commentary that quietly says ‘I told you so’. I don’t blame them. Their job is to create and deliver content for advertisers, and the grimier it is, the better. Milk and cookies doesn’t sell space and time.

        Any way, as for our quarterback, he has done the best he can with his celebrity, even if he divides his fan base in the process. I have never enjoyed entertainers who come out politically; it takes away from their core competency, and I have to endure their views, on my dime, just to hear their music. When I am in the audience it’s even more upsetting. But, maybe that’s just me.

      • Well, I don’t fault entertainers who come out politically. They’re artists and athletes, but also people who have strong feelings and beliefs, so why not use their podiums to effect (what they feel is) positive change? Obviously, I think the Colin Kaepernicks and Carole Kings of the world are more valuable to society than the Tom Bradys and Ted Nugents. But gotta take the bad and ugly with the good.

        I gave up on TV news a long time ago, except PBS Newshour (and rarely watch that). Maybe they smirk occasionally, though I never noticed it. You’re absolutely right, though, that “the grimier it is, the better,” thanks to those advertising dollars.

      • (Phil, let me modify my comment “I never noticed it (smirking).” Actually, I have noticed, but only on the most partisan cable news channels. The night Obama was reelected, I did an experiment and jumped between MSNBC and Fox. The MSNBC hosts looked very happy and content, whereas the Fox hosts looked like deer caught in headlights. I didn’t try this the night Trump was elected. I clicked the TV off, took a deep breath, and went to bed. Wish I could have stayed asleep.)

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