Colin Kaepernick was supposed to be hosted by the Seattle Seahawks for a tryout according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. He has not played in the NFL since the 2016 season, and is best known for both his role in the 49er’s 2013 Super Bowl run and his decision to kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem before each game.
Many have vehemently defended Kaepernick and many more have vehemently opposed his decision to not stand for the anthem. As a quarterback, Kaepernick is not the best in the NFL by any measure, but has a strong enough past that his lack of a job is extremely questionable. Other players like Tom Brady have defended him saying, “’I’ve always watched him and admired him, the way that he’s played he was a great young quarterback. He came to our stadium and beat us and took his team to the Super Bowl. He accomplished a lot in the pros as a player, and he’s certainly qualified and I hope he gets a shot.”
Kaepernick’s protest during the National Anthem stems from the systematic mistreatment of African Americans and minorities in the United States, especially by police officers. His decision to kneel is not one of disrespect for the flag, the military, or veterans, as he, Eric Reid, and other players have repeatedly emphasized, but rather one of using his platform to stand against injustice.
After more than a year of being a free agent and multiple teams signing quarterbacks notoriously worse than him, he received his first tryout invitation from the Seahawks for the recently vacated backup QB spot. His tryout with the Seahawks was cancelled after he dismissed standing for the anthem and foregoing his protests. The most hypocritical point being that the Seahawks had a number of players kneel multiple times in the 2017 season. In all but 4 games, the Seahawks had 10 or more players sit or kneel during the National Anthem, with many more standing by their side in solidarity. Even more hypocritical, the entire Seahawks team did not leave the locker room for the National Anthem during their Week 3 matchup last season, putting out the following statement as well:
“As a team, we have decided we will not participate in the national anthem. We will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of color in this country. Out of love for our country and in honor of the sacrifices made on our behalf, we unite to oppose those that would deny our most basic freedoms. We remain committed in continuing to work towards equality and justice for all.”
Last June, the Seahawks’ head coach Pete Carrol said, “[Kaepernick’s] a starter in the league. … We have a starter. But he’s a starter in the league and I can’t imagine that someone won’t give him a chance to play.” The controversy surrounding Kaepernick is obviously a burden or at least something to consider, but the Seahawks are directly contradicting the entire team’s actions and a number of players’ actions last season.
Kaepernick is also currently suing the NFL and its owners for collusion, as he remains without a job despite his qualifications and experience. While many argue that he’s simply not good enough, the signings of players like Brandon Weeden, Robert Griffin III, and other far worse quarterbacks demonstrate that Kaepernick might be onto something. SB Nation posted the following video proving that while Kaep is no Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers, he’s quite deserving of a starting or backup position. The question of his signing does include the “baggage” of his social activism, his desired salary, and his desired playing time, but his ability to play the game is not an arguable point.
Other NFL players also expressed their blatant disgust from the Seahawks organization in retracting their tryout invitation. Chris Long, well known for his social activism in recent years, immediately took to Twitter following the news.
We know for a fact CK is being blackballed, but this lack of subtlety from an org like them would be shocking. 🤔
— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) April 12, 2018
By directly acknowledging or at least hinting the fact that Kaepernick’s being blackballed by the NFL and team owners, Long is arguing the exact same case as Kaepernick’s legal team.
Those who disagree with Kaepernick and his protests repeatedly use the “stick to sports” argument and agree with team owners in not signing the quarterback. Sports and politics are not mutually exclusive fields, regardless of how many times certain fans try to push such a narrative. Bill Walton notably said in a letter to Richard Nixon in 1973 published in the New York Times that, “Political statements and sports have always been a widely accepted duo by the media as long as they stress the ‘correct politics.’” When Tim Thomas refused to attend the White House due to political differences with Obama after the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup victory, republicans admired his courage. When others do so in recent years, they are instead ostracized as unreasonable and unnecessarily combining sports and politics.
So Kaepernick’s message, in the words of Bill Walton, is not “the correct politics.” Although undoubtedly controversial, Kaepernick is suffering from discrimination in this situation (not necessarily racial discrimination, but rather ideological discrimination). The Seahawks’ decision will continue to be criticized and condemned justifiably due to their ironic past contradicting their current agenda.