One Player's Opinion: The NFL Has Blackballed Colin Kaepernick For Standing Up For Us
Photo of Colin Kaepernick courtesy of ESPN.
I remember when Colin Kaepernick was an underdog. Long before he received critical attention for kneeling during the National Anthem at a pre-season NFL game and before he was throwing touchdowns and flexing up. Kaepernick was a quarterback for the University of Nevada’s football team, and though the team wasn’t the highest ranked in the college football world, to say that they were a threat was an understatement. His rush and pass capabilities were astronomical, but it wasn’t until Nevada upset Boise State in 2010, his senior year, that Colin became a beloved figure in Nevada football and the quarterback Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers organization was scoping out for the future concern.
It’s been almost seven years and you’d think a quarterback that had taken the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl his first year as a starter and the NFC East Championship the following year would get a call right, RIGHT? Nope. Colin’s not getting any love from the “mainstream” audience these days and more importantly, there are no football gigs calling him either. After making national headlines for protesting back in 2016, we’ve seen a different Kaepernick both on and off the field (obviously), and an attitude that his “possible” employers have against his political views. It’s beautiful to see Kaepernick out here doing what he can to protest against racial oppression, and he still has more time to be a dope quarterback (with good coaching and staff around him). Unfortunately, as the days drift away and Colin continues to receive no call from an NFL team, I get the feeling that it’s not about his game on the field, especially with the trash that’s on the market. It’s about his views on this oppressive American system. The NFL heavily supports the current political values which may happen to include said “system”.
We may never see Kaepernick step on the field again.
Let’s be very clear, the last two years hasn’t been very good for Colin Kaepernick on the field. He’s been taking a couple of L’s ever since Jim Harbaugh left back in 2014. That’s a shame because they were actually a great tandem in the earlier days of the franchise before shit got real in the chemistry of the 49ers' organization after their second playoff run was unsuccessful. Things started to change when Jim Trolusa came along for his brief period. Major key players left and then they hired Chip Kelly—a move that hardcore fans still regret to this day. The team lacked cohesiveness in its offense, but Colin did what he could to make things happen for the very terrible period that he actually did play. He rushed for over 2,000 yards, threw 16 touchdowns and had only four interceptions last year. There are people who have played worst in the league last season who were paid extensive contracts.
If there’s a paycheck for trash QB’s and a CBS gig for newly retired Tony Romo then there should be a home somewhere for Colin Kaepernick. He may not be the best quarterback in the league right now but the dude can still stick-and-move if he’s with the right coach, and hopefully, we could see him pull off maneuvers like he once used to.
So, why is he not getting signed?
Photo of Colin Kaepernick and Spike Lee courtesy of Instagram.
It’s obvious to say that many NFL owners don’t find Kaepernick's revolution that includes protesting and giving donations, very charming. The fact that they’re not calling his phone for a football position is just a slow dive into the NFL’s Sunken Place of Talent. We started to say this two weeks in, but now it’s becoming far more evident.
Kaepernick’s protest of America's National Anthem didn’t just cause a shift in the conversation about social issues in sports — it unraveled a side of America that wasn’t ready for that convo to be heard. It added pressure to the football team that had him on payroll, while creating death threats against Colin and made the whole issue a focal point which affected the league's TV ratings. Let’s not mention the uncooked tater tot that wanted to talk about him and add extra problems to his cause.
Unfortunately, owners are more than likely including his activism as a risk if they sign him, but compared to the long list of players that have once been signed with super shady histories, something doesn’t add up.
It’s been pretty obvious that the league’s shifting to a new image that’s slowly adjusting with the views of our current times, and that may be why Colin Kaepernick is not getting a job. Don’t get me wrong, there are some quarterbacks in this league that have been very successful at what they do, but they’ve been politically active for far more crazier views than what Kaepernick’s fighting for. These players get away with doing it in more passive-aggressive ways thanks to their prestige. The NFL does backflips upon backflips about our American values, no matter how crazy they may be sometimes, but many of its owners and executive officials may be stuck with those views, and that’s a problem.
What makes matters worse is that this isn’t the first time this has happened. Remember Michael Sam? The openly gay football player who was drafted low in the 2014 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams? There was so much media attention on his story outside of his progression on the field that many teams thought it was a “distraction”. He may have been drafted higher if he wasn’t open about his sexuality, but like many of us, he believed that the league (and our country) was ready for progression. Although Michael Sam’s decline is different compared to Kaepernick’s protests against racial injustice—they both made an attempt to do one thing that is taboo in the league: show that this country can (and must) be a better place for everyone. The fucked up part about their progressive movements is that like the NFL, based on a majority of our country, most people just aren’t ready for it. No matter how good you are or have been in the past, your resume could get flushed down the toilet if you do some provocative shit that the majority might not like.
Just like many of us that have a job where our images matter at an organization, it’s the same for Colin Kaepernick. The only difference is due to his occupation and news on social media, we’re all publicly watching teams finesse him so they can invest in young talent or mediocre talent on their roster. If this would’ve happened a couple years ago it would’ve been silence, but due to our current situation, Kaepernick’s current employment status is only a magnification of our country’s divisiveness.
Just like he was the night he beat Boise State in 2010, Colin Kaepernick is an underdog, but it’s for something far more significant at this time. He has a lot to prove as a quarterback both on and off the field. If Kaepernick gets signed to a team he will have high expectations to manage himself accordingly by the NFL’s standards on and off the field. With these high expectations in the public eye comes a battle that Kaepernick has to be ready for. Although he’s announced that he will be standing during the National Anthem from now on, it’s quite obvious that the damage has been done. A lot of people are mad at Colin Kaepernick from all angles. However, he’s still duking it out for justice among black people, and that makes me far happier than the upsets he made in Nevada or his successful run in the league. Something that should be common sense for all seems to be difficult for a lot of people, and if Colin Kaepernick has to take a knee for them to understand or show their true colors, that’s fine by me.
Something that should be common sense for all seems to be difficult for a lot of people, and if Colin Kaepernick has to take a knee for them to understand or show their true colors, that’s fine by me.
It’s also dope that he’s donating money and teaching kids about knowing their constitutional rights, why couldn’t he be nominated for the NFL Man of the Year? Outside of the protest, he could be seen as very productive dude off the field. Unfortunately, it’s not about what he’s doing, it’s more about who he’s doing it for and the NFL and half our country isn’t bangin’ with that, not these days. We’ll see what will happen as time passes, but days can turn to months, maybe years, and who we once thought was a great athlete may turn into a what if. However, whether Colin Kaepernick has a Vince Lombardi trophy in his hands or making moves to fight for justice for all, he will always be an underdog for his overall performance in the world of sports and social activism.
Vance Brinkley is a young writer based in Washington, DC. He loves playing lacrosse, watching indie films, and listening to music from Project Pat to Toro Y Moi. You can find him chillin' like a villain @VBRINKLEY513.