By now you know that NFL team owners have colluded to keep Colin Kaepernick off the field. In a sport that is allegedly “all about winning” there is really no plausible case that can be made as to why he wouldn’t at least be given a chance to compete for a quarterback position. A lot of these squads are fielding garbage at the position to intentionally overlook Kaepernick and more importantly send a message about “position”.
During the off-season a growing number of fans have organized into pro-Kaepernick communities and called for various levels of non-support and boycott against the league. Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity to which Colin (and I) belong sent an official letter in support to the NFL calling for action. The NAACP also weighed in on what appears to many to be an effort to blackball the quarterback.
And a group of Black pastors has launched #Black0utNFL with a video that has gained over 8-million views on Facebook.
The backstory from #Black0utNFL is that In 2016, then San Francisco 49er quarterback, Kaepernick, took a knee during the playing of the National Anthem at NFL games to bring awareness to the number of African-Americans that had been beaten or killed while unarmed by police agencies across the United States. Despite a 16 to 4 touchdown to interception ratio last year, he has been unable to find employment in the NFL.
The NFL has employed those convicted of sexual assault, domestic violence, animal abuse, drug abuse, and driving under the influence. A number of NFL owners have said the reason they will not employ him is because of negative fan reaction, or fear of offending various sponsors. A segment of their fan base has made it clear they will not patronize the NFL product if he is on the team.
Reed said in a Time interview when an NFL commercial comes on TV, she immediately flips the channel. The boycott is serious to her.
Thus far, team owners have capitulated, out of concern for backlash from a certain segment of the patrons, but they fear no such backlash from the Black community. The average television viewership for the 2016 NFL season dropped roughly 8% last year from 2015.
Yet the NFL and owners have a full expectation that African-Americans will continue to patronize their product even though they have made it a point to silence and make an example of Kaepernick to deter any future protests. Kaepernick thus far is paying a steep price because he stood up for those of us who are non-celebrities, who would not be recognized when pulled over by police. It’s time for us to stand up.
It should be noted that Kaepernick has not directly called fora boycott. He has been investing his time in his own “Know Your Rights Camp” and been highly engaged with youth and community activism on social media. His foundation has a mission “to fight oppression of all kinds globally. Through education and social activism.”
In my view it is refreshing to see athletes recognize that they do not live in a protective bubble in America. The unjust police killings of unarmed Black people, the systematic racism in the criminal justice system and the massive unemployment and under-employment of African Americans should be of concern to all of us.
The legacy of Black athletes speaking truth to power is one that should be embraced and continue to evolve. We’ll see how far the protest goes and if indeed the NFL owners collectively and individually will do the right thing.
What say you? Let me know in the comments.