Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick led the way and still fuels the fight against police brutality across the nation, as well as the debate over kneeling during the national anthem. The man himself, however, remains unemployed since the start of the NFL season in early September, despite more than enough athletic reasons to justify signing him. Apparently, too many teams decided his voice and leadership are a liability.
On Oct. 15, it became public that Kaepernick has decided to file a lawsuit against the NFL for the collusion of team owners agreeing to keep him unsigned. The measure shows not only that Kaepernick is not willing to give up his fight, but that the owners uncomfortable with his presence and scared of change better brace themselves, because he is going to shake the league up some more and will not settle for less than what he deserves.
Kaepernick’s argument is that NFL team owners came to a mutual agreement to not sign him, in hopes his hype would eventually fade off and not cause any more trouble. This misguided punishment shows that a black athlete is regarded as valuable only as long as he entertains us, but when he speaks up about his experiences and denounce injustice, his ability to keep his job is undermined.
The ridicule of boycotting Kaepernick – one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks last year and the 17th best-selling jersey in the league, according to NFL.com – shows cowardice reigns in a sport constantly exalted for its toughness.
A weekly updated statistical analysis by the Washington Post, named “The Colin Kaepernick tracker,” showed that as of NFL’s week six there were 13 quarterbacks worse than Kaepernick while five were about the same level, from the total of 32 players.
While many teams are willing to send players to butt heads week after week and even ignore the serious medical impacts that come as a result, they are fearful of a simple ideology and unable to embrace freedom of expression.
Regardless of each side people are on the issues of police brutality and the right to kneel, everyone should stand behind Kaepernick’s right to peacefully protest without having to pick between being vocal about issues important to him and being unemployed.
Concussions aside, NFL team owners have also shown that the numerous cases of sexual assault and domestic violence involving football players are not enough to expel someone out of the league and take away their right to earn millions of dollars, but protesting an issue that has been taking the lives of an indigestible number of black people in the United States is where they draw the line. For that they should be utterly ashamed.
Although the ranking of these owners’ priorities do not come as a surprise, as doesn’t the President of the United States placing an enormous pressure on boycotting Kaepernick by vocally and personally attacking him several times, the collusion case might be a break-through.
In a Oct. 18 interview to CNN’s Anderson Cooper on AC360, Kaepernick’s attorney Mark Geragos said he has a high degree of confidence in proving the collusion case and that they will have a smoking gun.
To the people who think they can scare off someone who was willing to risk his job and career for a cause he believes in, Kaepernick is making it loud and clear that you cannot. But you can always learn to appreciate in someone else the unshakable courage that you lack, and stand up for something greater than yourself.