Should Colin Kaepernick..."Just Say No" to the NFL?
The NFL has never had a very good poker face when it comes to controversy in the league and the saga of Colin Kaepernick continues to be an awful bluff. Commissioner Goodell has insisted that Kap's inability to find a team is football related and has nothing to do with politics yet; John Mara CEO and Co-Owner of the New York Giants had other things to say more recently. Mara told the MMQB that the fans are pretty emotional when it comes to Colin's National Anthem protest and even though Colin wasn't on their radar if they signed him it would lead to an emotional backlash.
“All my years being in the league, 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 than any other issue I’ve run into.” - John Mara
Really John? The New York Giants signed kicker Josh Brown to a new contract AFTER he was arrested for domestic violence and even kept him on the team AFTER he was suspended for said charge. Yet the fans emotional response over a black man kneeling in silent protest is more of an emotional issue than your kicker attacking his wife? This is also a league that has seen Riley Cooper receive a contract extension after saying and I quote, "I will jump back in and fight every nigger in here." Let's also not forget Greg Hardy who signed a one-year, $11.3 million dollar contract with the Cowboys, despite the fact he was found guilty of assaulting an ex-girlfriend and sentenced to 18-months probation. His 10 game suspension was reduced to 4 games by the NFL and that was only to prevent legal action from Hardy. If these men were allowed a reprieve after acts of domestic violence and racism surely Colin Kaepernick should also be allowed to use his platform to highlight the unfair treatment of black men and women by the police? The answer is twofold. Colin did what any American is constitutionally allowed to do, organize in peaceful protest. He also didn't violate any league policy by doing so because he was neither fined nor suspended by the league. He also performed exceptionally well on an underachieving team despite the lack of talent around him. Although the teams overall record isn't an indication of that his individual numbers are better than more than half of the backup quarterbacks in the league last season.
It wasn't until recently he received his first invitation to visit the Seattle Seahawks about their backup position behind Russell Wilson. That was after the fact 19 mediocre free agents were signed at the same position. Now although I believe Colin will be on an NFL roster this season I think maybe it's time he should just say no the National Football League, here's why:
1. The NFL is Out of Touch
The National Football League, as much as we all love it, has dropped the ball several times when it comes to players health, fun, off the field issues, drug policies, discipline and overall lack the ability of transparency. Colin has done so much in so little time that if he silences himself just to play in the league again it can leave a bad taste in the mouths of the people who support him.
2. Race Relations
Although the NFL players are majority Black, the NFL has done a poor job of hiring Black Head Coaches. Not to mention the league owners are majority white and so are its fans. There is no wonder why the backlash against Kaepernick is so pronounced. Should Colin wish to return to this stage he would have to swath through a ton of racial tension that he did not create.
What is the end result of this journey? Kaepernick's legacy has already been solidified when the Smithsonian decided to put his items on display in the next coming years. No matter what erasure the NFL is attempting he has already cemented his name for years and the years to come. His name has also been placed next to Ali, Jack Johnson, Jim Brown, and other iconic political athletes so what else is left to prove? He is doing more work outside of football and will continue to do so whether or not he plays another game.
Colin Kaepernick isn't broke. Although he's no longer earning the 7 year $126 million dollar contract he initially received, he still earned about $25.9 million of it. The money he could potentially earn with book deals, appearances and speaking engagements could help his philanthropy even more. Colin wanting to play in the league again isn't for financial reasons. Especially if signed he may not get more than the veteran's minimum. He loves the game of football and still has at least 5 more years of high-level ball to play. I won't pretend I know his expenses but he hasn't cried broke yet.
If Colin wants to play for the NFL again, and I believe he will, he should. It is well within his right as an athlete to continue his professional playing career. However if he were to change his mind and choose not to play in a league where kneeling is a more of an "emotional issue" than domestic violence, then fuck it. He was better off anyway.