Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett claims that the National Football League is treating national anthem protester and former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick unfairly. Also known as the man-who-stood-up-for-his-principles-until-it-hurt-his-bank-account, Kaepernick has not been offered a contract during the NFL’s free agency period this year.
“Of course I think he’s been blackballed, obviously,” Bennett said during an event at Busboys and Poets in the hip U Street Corridor in the nation’s capital.
Blackballing implies NFL owners got together and agreed not to hire Kaepernick. Here’s a better explanation as to why Kaepernick is unemployed: (1) teams don’t want to alienate fans by hiring him and (2) teams don’t want to hire a lousy quarterback.
Although the politically correct NFL tried to deny it, independent surveys found that Kaepernick’s national anthem protest alienated fans. NFL television ratings dropped by 8 percent last season. One poll found that 32 percent of respondents were less likely to watch NFL games because of Kaepernick’s antics.
The NFL needs good TV ratings. That attracts advertisers, which means revenue for the league, which means that players like Bennett can get three-year, $31.5 million contracts. Kaepernick has shown that he is to attracting TV viewers what Hillary Clinton is to attracting working-class voters.
There is a dearth of quarterback talent in professional football right now. Thus, a team might take a chance on Kaepernick if he were even an average quarterback, since, obviously, winning games can attract viewers.
But over the last two seasons Kaepernick has had an average rank of 26, which puts him in the bottom quarter of quarterbacks. His record during that time is three wins and 16 losses. A quarterback who can’t win games and drives away fans just by being on a team’s roster? The decision to eschew Kaepernick only requires a bit of common sense on the part of each team, not an industry-wide conspiracy.
Bennett then goes on to complain that,
Maybe the players agree that there’s a place for politics in sports, but I don’t think the teams, or the organization, or even the fans believe there’s a place for politics in sports. I think people want you to do your job and shut up — score a touchdown, dunk a basketball, hit a home run and call it a day. We’ll buy your jersey, and that’s it….
I think a lot of people might be scared because they might not have a job when they speak up. Their jerseys won’t be bought anymore. If they speak up, they won’t be invited to certain things.
If Kaepernick and Bennett have the freedom to say whatever they like, consumers have the freedom to stop watching players like Kaepernick and Bennett for whatever reason they want, including politics. What athletes like Kaepernick and Bennett don’t seem to understand is that freedom is a two-way street, that they are not entitled to an audience, and that there is a cost to everything, including speech. Free speech protects you only from the government. It does not protect you from, say, losing your job. Just ask Curt Schilling.
Bennett, though, doesn’t understand that last point even after it jumped up and hit him in his face.
As PJMedia reports:
[Bennett] drew attention to himself in February when he opted out of an Israeli-government-sponsored trip to draw attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights and other organizations – along with African-American activists Angela Davis, Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover – lobbied players to decline the invitation from the Ministry for Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy, arguing the athletes would “help the Israeli government normalize and whitewash its ongoing denial of Palestinian rights.” Bennett and 10 other players turned down the trip.
Bennett stated in a letter that he wanted to be “in accord with” his own conscience. Like Kaepernick, Bennett sparked a public firestorm.
“To be honest, I didn’t know what my letter was going to do. I was just in the moment. It was what I wanted to say, what I wanted the world to hear. I didn’t know it was going to affect people the way it did,” Bennett said, noting that he spent “two days” in his room researching and also, admittedly, crying over the issue. He said he plans to visit Israel on his own time to form his own opinions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
After seeing the controversy Kaepernick caused, Bennett didn’t know that sticking his nose into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was going to get a big reaction?
Either he’s dishonest or dense. Take your pick.
The rest of Bennett’s remarks are typical left-wing claptrap clichés, such as “Once you’re awake, it’s hard to go back to sleep,” and that Kaepernick’s protest started a “national conversation.” The funniest of them is that Kaepernick is a “man of the people.”
Here’s a bit of advice to Bennett and all athletes: Just play the game. There will be plenty of time to comment on politics after you retire.
Crossposted at Bombthrowers.