Kaepernick, Simply Put
the Barest of things by Brett Barest
Every day that former NFL quarterback remains unemployed, more headlines run blaming racism, collusion, and blackballing as the reason for the poor guy’s problems. I went back and looked at the timeline of his fall from grace as the darling of the NFL and came up with a pretty clear picture of why he cannot find a job. Let’s review…
* After missing much of the 2015 season due to injury, Colin Kaepernick began the 2016 in a QB competition with Blaine Gabbert, a guy who had no business being in a QB competition for any NFL team, even my beloved NY Jets. It was at this time that Kaepernick began sitting during the National Anthem, doing so for three whole preseason games before anyone noticed, showing how little people were noticing him at the time.
* When people finally saw Kaepernick sitting down, he explained that he was doing so because “”I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” Whether you agree or disagree with the validity of this statement, surely you can see how this might be a tough pill for the average American to swallow. For the vast majority of Americans – and it is the vast majority – that live in 2017 and harbor no ill will towards anyone solely because of their skin color, it does feel a bit insulting to be included in such blanket statement about our nation’s racial perspective. While there are plenty of areas that our culture stands to improve upon, the suggestion that the American flag and Nation Anthem are direct symbols of systematic racism and oppression seems to be a bit of stretch. It is America though, after all, so he is perfectly entitled to his opinion and expression of it hence forth, such is the degree to which he is oppressed.
* On August 30, 2016, Kaepernick donned a t-shirt celebrating Fidel Castro at a press conference in Miami, of all places. Not one single American born citizen alive today can begin to relate to the level of actual oppression Castro inflicted on his own people. Suddenly, questioning Kaepernick’s actual understanding of what oppression really is seemed perfectly reasonable.
* Back on the field, Kaepernick lost the QB battle with that Gabbert guy and started the season on the bench, thus giving him even more time to sit. When his number was finally called in Week 6, he put up decent numbers across inconsistent play and over 10 games led his team to one lonely victory.
* At the end of the season, Kaepernick opted out of his contract which would have paid him the oppressive sum of $16.5 million for 2017.
So, to recap, a professional athlete with a recent injury history, spotty play, and divisive political opinions expects to be paid more than $16.5 million per year to play football. On the field, that is a dicey proposition at best. Off the field, in an industry where profits come from ticket sales and television ratings, he expects to make more than $16.5 million as the face of a franchise while touting a world view that roughly half of the viewers find distasteful. That is questionable logic, at best.
This is not the result of racism or collusion, as so many people would love for us to believe. This is simply Economics 101.
If you work for any small business or corporation in America and you expect to be the highest paid person in the company while delivering mediocre performance and turning off half of your potential customers with your personal political beliefs, you will not be employed very long, regardless of your skin color. That being said, the San Francisco 49ers would have continued to employ him, once again, to the tune of $16.5 million for one year. It was Kaepernick himself that chose the unemployment line, not the other way around.
As an American, Colin Kaepernick is 100% entitled to his beliefs and his public expression of them. Provided his former employers were accepting of his expression of these beliefs at work (which obviously they were) he was 100% entitled to sit, kneel, or nap during the anthem. In the capitalist society that we live in, he was 100% entitled to opt out of his contract and seek greener pastures and greater fortunes elsewhere.
Likewise, the rest of America is afforded the same rights. NFL owners have the right not to hire an employee who intends to turn the field of play into a political pulpit. Fans have the right to turn off the television or stop buying tickets when politics infringe on the one part of our lives that is generally free of it all. Advertisers, then, have the right to reduce their investments in a product with reduced viewership.
None of these realities bodes well for a man looking for an eight figure salary in exchange for unpredictable play and guaranteed controversy. Black, white, brown, or purple, it is economics and his personal decision making, not racism, which is keeping Kaepernick on the sidelines.
Header photo is the property of CNN