Colin Kaepernick started it, and it should’ve ended with him.
A unique and novel silent protest that actually took weeks for the media to notice – Colin sitting down during the pre-NFL game American national anthem, which quickly evolved from a sit down to a more diluted knee down.
When the media eventually noticed it, it ignited, and ignited royally, where recent articles claim that studies and polls have revealed significant double-digit percentage drop offs of viewership of NFL games.
American football and the NFL have been my favourite sport and league for the past five years, and this year it has left a sour taste in my mouth. I have the least amount of anticipation and excitement for the start of this year’s NFL season that I can remember.
I love the NFL for its ferocity, for its intensity, its strategical Battleship game and carrier fleet similarities. The aircraft carrier is the coveted quarterback, its mine sweeping and protective submarines are its offensive linesmen.
The aircraft and pilots their wide receivers, and the wily and seasoned Admiral as its coach. I love the NFL for its fierce cast of characters who are amped.
I love the NFL for its drama, on and off the field, and essentially for it being the last remaining, truly gladiatorial football code and sport on the planet.
It is like Game of Thrones, almost antiquated due to its violent nature in this the most politically correct and anti-violent sensitive era in humanity. Yet the NFL has, like Game of Thrones, has flourished in recent years, until now.
Personally, I am absolutely sick and tired of these NFL protests, the national anthem sit-downs, and arms and fists raised in the air, or a knee to the ground. I am a lifelong 49ers fan and was thrown like everybody else when Kaepernick started his sit-down protests.
I personally was a little perplexed and disappointed, because I am very patriotic towards America which has been my home for the past 12 years. However, as an admirer and fan of Colin’s for many years, I respected the fact that he took a stand, and had the freedom of expression to do so.
As a once-off stand and protest, that should have been it, and rightly so.
Colin got the attention and visibility that the action warranted, as it had never been done before, and that’s where my respect came from. However, as it went on for weeks and weeks and months, it became a side show and a massive distraction to the game it preceded. I started to lose respect for the protest and for him.
I continued to tune in to watch my favourite sport of American football, and my favourite brand of American football, the NFL, and my favourite franchise, the 49ers, however I was done with Colin and his protest. To initiate such a protest once and get away with it, was intriguing, inspiring, clever and novel.
And now, a year on, he is in trouble as a result of his prolonged protest throughout last season, currently unemployed, and I am not surprised. I have very little sympathy, because as I have commentated on in the past, when you are a high profile athlete and you choose to deviate away from your sporting celebrity cocoon there will be consequences.
For example, if you date a high profile actor, or a celebrity like a Kardashian, you need to be cognoscente of the fact that you are opening yourself up (right or wrong) to the ultimate scrutiny, and heightened criticism, and the most extreme unforgiving reviews of your work on the field.
When you do what Colin did and keep it up every week, and it becomes a major focus of your work day on the field, you are then adding triple and quadruple the scrutiny and critique of your level and quality of playing.
When Colin’s level and quality of play did deteriorate, the ramifications of his actions were amplified and quadrupled; and there were consequences, in sync with those ramifications. Colin signed a $100-million contract a few years ago, and now is unemployed and a football and NFL pariah.
Even Michael Vick who went to jail for his dogfighting indiscretions, was an ex-convict, emerged from jail, and redeemed himself and secured, another $100-million contract. So, you know Colin’s predicament is a grave one.
Now you have politically correct crusaders like ESPN’s Max Kellerman, who I largely respect for his very progressive and open-minded perspective on sports and athletes, who is condemning white NFL players for not supporting Kaepernick.
Are you kidding me? And I say that because Colin was not protesting issues relating to the NFL, he was making a stand about the state of the union. If he was making a stand about an NFLPA / union issue, then yes Max you have every right to call out his fellow players.
However Colin is making a very general and broad stance about the social and economic injustices in America. And he suffered a very severe consequence, which is potentially the end of his career. His former teammates and other NFL compatriots have zero obligation to risk their contracts and livelihood, supporting Colin’s cavalier season long protest.
Max wants and expects other players, particularly white players, to come out and support him.
I wouldn’t advocate for any players coming out and supporting him, regardless of race.
This is not because I am demonising Colin Kaepernick, I think he is a deserved starter in a second or third tier NFL team.
This is not a matter that is related to an injustice to the NFL or the NFLPA, as most players in the NFL, in fact 70 per cent, are African American.
This league and the platforms it provides, is not a stage for voicing your personal and social opinions, religious beliefs, or any private biases and objections, and that is specifically stated in the very contracts that players have signed and live on, brokered by their union, the NFLPA.
Now we have Marshawn Lynch and other players doing the same before the 2017 season has even begun.
I am sick of it, and have no interest in their agenda, even if it is related to current events like the sad and tragic and disturbing racist clashes going on.
I care deeply about these clashes and the racial tensions, and they are inexcusable on the part of supremacists anyone supporting them.
These terrible and tragic events, along with terrorism, and the tragic and saddening daily events of the world are inescapable.
This is what I see, am shocked by, and look for updates on when I go to news sites and even when I check my social media. They are inescapable and overwhelming at every turn, and on every social media and news outlets worldwide.
They do not need any further promotion or heightened visibility to get my attention, my concern, my sympathy and empathy.
When I tune in to the big game, I do not need my attention to be corralled towards thinking about the day’s tragic events in this complicated and convoluted world when I tune in to watch a football game, or any other program for that matter.
This is why I feel so compelled to write this article. There are about 1,700 players in the NFL across 32 teams. Can you imagine hundreds of these players making a protest during the national anthem and venting issues such as racism, abortion, education, healthcare, and so on. What happened to the football?
I am sure that 90 per cent of these 1,700 players are passionate about some sort of injustice in our world and local communities. Why is the national anthem now a blank canvass to be desecrated with the personal issues and objections of professional athletes; who by the way, most ironically are exempt from the very protests they are voicing because of their stature of being football players.
In the same way that a Game of Thrones cast member would turn to the camera and voice their protest about a social issue (only to obviously be edited out and never see the light of day on a HBO broadcast), and exploit the power of the distribution avenues and visibility of their employers’ pipelines and their audience, this and these protests by NFL players should be ignored and not publicised.
Furthermore, the players in breach should be sanctioned. Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, threatened to fire any of his players who sat for the anthem, and quite rightly so.
These performers, be they actors, or professional football players, are highly paid lottery winners, and to do this on company time, aggravating large chunks of their audience, who pay to see them perform, versus hearing their gripes about issues, is an insult to everyone, including their bosses, and coworkers who may not agree with them or their timing or choice of platforms to express themselves.
As I said, these lottery winners have social media channels with millions of followers and should exploit and utilise those personal channels, rather than using company resources.