Colin Kaepernick is a man of principle. You may not agree with his take on life in America for blacks. You might think he is misinformed or just believe he is some rich punk who should shut up and master a game he has been paid very well to play. None of that matters to some and yet for others, he serves as an example as to what happens when you are a person of color and you speak your mind.
Richard Sherman, another football player who is black and who is well paid, also speaks his mind. He is just one of many NFL players, most of whom are black, most of whom are well paid, who have been quite outspoken about why Colin Kaepernick should be playing. They continue to be employed and richly paid despite their outspokenness. In other words, you can be a black athlete in America and have opinions that run counter to those who run the league, you know, those mostly older, incredibly wealthy, and very white men.
Now there is a movement to start a boycott of all things NFL until Colin Kaepernick has a job. One thing most people of all races and income levels who are fans of pro football can agree on is Kaepernick is among the top 100 quarterbacks in the game today which makes him good enough to be a third stringer. Many place him in the top 60 which makes him worthy of second team honors and still some place him as being good enough to at least be a decent starting quarterback. All of this makes it unfair that he sits unemployed just because he is a person of color who went against the grain and said a few things that were unpopular and took a knee during the playing of the national anthem.
While I do believe Kaernick has been made an example of for his views and actions and there is no doubt color has also played a role in all of this, to boycott the NFL over it is a joke. There are more important matters to boycott America’s favorite game. For starters, I find it strange people would boycott the NFL all because a young man who has made millions of dollars is unable to land a job, especially when that man plays the games most important position and has his share of limitations to playing it. It’s not as if he played left guard.
A millionaire out of a job is not something to be upset over, even if it is all about race or politics. Millions of Americans of all races, religions, and political views are either unemployed or grossly underemployed. They have long ago lost hope for a shot to do what they set out to do in life while the very wealthy left them behind for cheaper labor in other nations. You do not dare speak out against your employer today if you are a regular Joe without knowing you will be tossed to the curb.
I have no problem with anyone who wants to boycott the NFL, just do so over something more important than Colin Kaepernick. Go ahead and refuse to watch games until teams are forced to rid themselves of all the players with criminal records. Where are the boycotts over players with rap sheets that include numerous domestic violence, gun, drug, and parole issues? How many fans know whether or not their favorite teams were quietly fined by the league for employing an excessive number of players with criminal and league violations?
Where are the protestors who insist the NFL be made to make its game safer? Oh, that’s right, we tell ourselves it is an occupational hazard. So is driving in NASCAR, but they at least go to great lengths to protect drivers who crash at 200 mile and hour. A new helmet for a young man with violent tendencies and a general disdain for what few safety rules the NFL has is not making the game safer. What about the brain damage that afflicts most anyone who ever played the game, even if it was just high school football?
Then there is my favorite: October. The NFL loves this month long affair with the color pink and their supposed desire to rid the world of breast cancer. They could care less about it. October is just the ultimate marketing perversion of a league that will do anything to make money. All those pink team jerseys and team gear fans eat up for a cause does next to nothing for fighting a horrid disease when just ten percent of the funds from sales actually makes it to research. Yep, it’s just another way to fatten the wallets of greedy men like Jerry Jones who for some reason was enshrined in the Hall of Fame recently. His bust, and the bust of Roger Goodell and countless others belong in a Hall of Shame.
Anyone who has the fortitude to stand in the middle of an oncoming pass rush and not crap himself in front of 65,000 rabid fans has the fortitude to stand up to the owners of the NFL and take the financial hit Colin Kaepernick is taking. He has had the privilege to be richly paid to play a game and develop a large enough fan base and platform to speak his mind.
However, I would not suggest you do the same if you are employed and struggling to pay all your bills each month. Employers really do not need or want the headaches that come from employing a pain in the ass and if Colin Kaepernick has proven anything, we live in a nation where there are scores of people lined up and willing to shut up if it means getting a better job with better pay and better benefits. That, more the Kaepernick having to stay home on Sundays this fall, should really have America up in arms. You see, you do not have to be a person of color to be screwed out of a job. You just have to be a person with a freely outspoken perspective about the nation we live in.
Top photo of Colin Kaepernick by Claudia Gestro
Jim is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is also the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching. Jim considers himself an equal opportunity pain in the ass to any political party, group, or individual who looks to profit off of hypocrisy. When he is not pointing out the conflicting words and actions of our leaders, the NFL commissioner, or humans in general, he can be found riding his bike for hours on end while pondering his next article. Jim recently moved to Camarillo, CA after being convinced to join the witness protection program.