Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback, has caused quite a stir and has angered most Americans with his refusal to stand for the National Anthem prior to 49ers’ football games. But Kaepernick isn’t the only villain in this story. Sharing equal billing with Kaepernick in the shameful behavior department is the NFL. The NFL, with its political correctness and lack of backbone, has shown itself to be racist in a unique sense. The NFL is racist in that it has the bigotry of low expectations for its African American players, of who make up approximately 68% of the league.
Check out the timid statement from the NFL right after Kaepernick pulled his sit-down:
Players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the National Anthem.
What?! Is this Roger Goodell’s NFL we’re talking about? Goodell, who likes to flex his muscle more than any other modern sports commissioner, basically takes a pass. Why not demand Kaepernick stand for the anthem, and if not he will have to sit during the game? At minimum the NFL could have told Kaepernick if he doesn’t want to stand for the anthem, he is to stay in the locker room until the anthem is over.
Ditto for the San Francisco ’49ers, who released the following which would be more appropriate for John Q. Public but not one of their employees:
The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose to participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.
Reading this statement one would think Kaepernick was a customer who bought a ticket to attend a game and not a 49er player who is paid to represent the organization. The 49ers’ statement glossed over the fact that Kaepernick’s odious political protest came not on his free time but game time, when the protest would get maximum media exposure. A normal employer would have told his employee if he ever pulled a stunt like that on the job again he would no longer be welcome.
So what is going on with the NFL? After all, with a weak players’ union, a commissioner who seems to enjoy displaying his power and leverage over the players at every turn, and ] a league that scripts out every detail of game presentation to a T, why has the NFL become such a pushover when it comes to Kaepernick? The truth of the matter is the NFL is terrified of the Black Lives Matter movement. Since Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri, the NFL has turned a willful blind eye to all sorts of on-field protests from a handful of the players, many of which have been highly insulting to the NFL’s paying customers, the fans.
I have written on this phenomenon previously, noting in particular the horrific judgment shown by Isaiah Crowell of the Cleveland Browns. The day before the Dallas Police shooting, which killed five officers, Crowell sent out an Instagram that displayed an image of a white police officer being graphically beheaded with a knife, along with the message, “They give police all types of weapons and they continually choose to kill us…#Weak.” Adding to the insult, the figure of the officer beheading which Crowell adopted from other posts was previously used by ISIS followers. Isaiah Crowell is projected to be on the Cleveland Browns opening day roster and received just the proverbial slap on the wrist from both the Browns and the NFL over this incident.
NFL leadership has so convinced themselves that their African American players are all hood and part gangsta, that if they put in place reasonable prohibitions against political protests while the players are in uniform it would lead to an ugly backlash from the players. Talk about an insulting stereotype! The reality is most NFL players made it to the top of the profession by hard work and perseverance and are no more disposed to hate America or the police than you and I.
By the NFL not taking a stand for decency it has created a vacuum and allowed the bad apples to dictate NFL’s game day agenda. As the Kaepernick protest grows with other players joining in, the NFL has set itself up for a season of discontent.
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