Is Colin Kaepernick being black balled by teams in the NFL against signing the free agent quarterback because of his protests last year during the national anthem? The answer is yes and no.
Let me address the “No” first. In the most literal sense for Colin Kaepernick to be black balled would mean there was a direct and concerted effort by all the teams to have essentially come to a collective decision for no one to sign Kaepernick. While I have no actual proof one way or another, I think it is highly unlikely that all of the teams are collectively and uniformly colluding to not sign Kaepernick. There is too much evidence of dissension in their own ranks (i.e. the amount of times the Oakland Raiders have sued the NFL and remained outsiders) to suggest that some type of meeting or agenda on this particular individual was held and agreed upon to specifically keep him out of the NFL.
So what is the “Yes”? First off it is still too early to tell if Colin Kaepernick’s career in the NFL is over, because there is still too much time left and scenarios to be played out to determine if he will find a home in the NFL this year or ever again. The NFL season is still 5 months away, training camps, 3 plus months away. The NFL draft is not until April 27-29th. Until you have the all the other available free agent quarterbacks signed, can it be more definitively said that he was in any way “blackballed”.
So why am I writing about this now? Why when so many factors appear undetermined to define Kaepernick’s upcoming year or future. The not so simple answer, is that for many, the writing on the wall for Colin Kaepernick’s career seemed already in place last year when he sparked so much controversy ensued by his decision to protest social injustice and the shootings of unarmed People Of Color (POC) by the police throughout the United States. His decision to kneel during the national anthem was enduring national news, and despite other players following his example of protest, he was the lightening rod of controversy and vociferous contempt, that often bordered on flat out racism and included death threats.
More recently Donald Trump seemed to take some kind of joy/credit when an unnamed NFL General Manager stated that teams may be shying away from signing Kaepernick to not risk a reprimanding tweet from Trump. While that is probably giving too much credit to Trump, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.
4 years ago Colin Kaepernick was viewed as a rising superstar in the NFL. He had been the starting quarterback for a team that missed playing in the Superbowl two years in a row by one game. He was always in the debate of best young quarterbacks, often with many siding with him over Russell Wilson in debates over the subject. That has all changed. Coaching changes in San Francisco along with several injuries and subsequent inconsistent play, had Colin Kaepernick entering last season with uncertainty and a reserve role. He eventually started, but not before effectively restructuring the guarantees in his contract and his play was inconsistent at best for a woeful team.
The ineptitude of last year’s 49er’s was so great it is difficult to say that Kaepernick’s protests served as any type of detrimental distraction. No one believes that Colin Kaepernick is still an elite level quarterback. It is debatable but, he played well enough last year once healthy to still be seen as a NFL level quarterback with potential to start for many teams in the league. The NFL and sports in general have a high tolerance for looking past the indiscretions for star players. Average or fringe players are widely considered unneeded distractions. Kaepernick may be somewhere in the middle, he is no longer considered a star, but hard to argue that he is only a fringe level player. The potential distractions, in spite of his agents declaration upon his announcing his free agency that he would no longer protest the national anthem this year, are still undeniable.
So while the NFL owners may not have had an actual meeting to blackball Colin Kaepernick, no one really doubts the shared backgrounds and meeting of the minds that the almost universally wealth older Caucasian men (with Pakistani born and raised Jacksonville Jaguar owner Shaid Khan, being an exception) that own all of the NFL franchises. The actual political affiliations of the NFL owners is immaterial, but the mindset over the years seem to be the same. Though the league is predominately comprised of POC the good old boys network of owners seem to have a commonality when it comes to the plantation mentality of owning not only teams but controlling the actions of the personnel they employ. Anyone affecting their money is scorned and teaching lessons to out of line Negros is an unfortunate narrative that many see as part of the potential banning of players like Kaepernick who’s star status no longer outweighs the tolerant quotient for a group of potentially like minded NFL owners who see all of the league’s members at best as disposable assets.
So the jury is still out on whether Colin Kaepernick’s career in the NFL is over. Many see his not being immediately signed as an indication that he is being punished for his past protests. That is not an entirely true nor false statement. Should Kaepernick be signed by an NFL team in light of career backups and other less pedigreed quarterbacks being immediately signed including the 3 year 45 million dollar deal (with 19 million guaranteed) that Mike Glennon secured from the Chicago Bears? The answer appears to be definitively yes, but ultimately we shall see.
There are many who see a systemic pattern of rich POC being taught lessons by the White establishment for perceived protests. The indignation of the establishment to teach lessons to “ungrateful” minorities despite participating what is the most American of qualities; peaceful protest, have been in the stream of consciousness for many dating well before the sanctions and economic hardships that Muhammad Ali endured for standing up for his beliefs. Colin Kaepernick is not entitled to a job in the NFL. We shall see if the politicizing of his past protests will keep him from getting a second opportunity to prove his worthiness on the field.
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